It’s football season and “experts” abound. “Coaching” in the stands would be comical if it weren’t so annoying. Often the loudest critics know so little about the game. Many neither wore a jersey or drew a play. The same goes for many barking about the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow girls. Many weren’t Scouts, never raised Scouts and never supported Scouts. Having much to learn doesn’t keep them from yelling for all to hear. As a former Scout, a father of an Eagle Scout and as a 12-year Boy Scout volunteer and donor, allow me to “coach” a bit.
I didn’t go past Webelos as a youth; but, when I became a father, I knew Scouting was something that I wanted to be a part of my son’s childhood. I began as his Tiger Cub den leader and have remained one of his leaders even until now. I wouldn’t trade the time we have spent together in Scouting for anything, nor would I trade the experiences he has had in Scouting. He was awarded the Arrow of Light and on December 7, 2016, became an Eagle Scout. He accompanied me to camp a couple of months ago, when I went through my Vigil for Order of the Arrow. I am currently his troop’s Charter Organization Representative and Troop Committee Chairman. I also serve as the Council Commissioner for the West Tennessee Area Council. I will remain with Scouting for as long as they’ll let me. It is my wish that my son will one day become a Scout volunteer as well.
First, let’s revisit the membership changes which allowed homosexuals and transgenders. Critics crucified Boy Scouts of America over this. Many said BSA caved, lost its identity, etc. I opposed the change, but fact is, BSA had no choice. If they hadn’t changed, same-sex marriage legalization and other new laws taking effect would’ve litigated BSA out of existence. Several suits were in the pipeline, but were dropped after the policy change. You can bet none of BSA’s critics were donating to their legal defense fund.
As for the girls, their presence in Boy Scouting is nothing new. Really. Of the five BSA programs, three are coed. The first was Exploring, which admitted girls 40 years ago. Sea Scouts and Venturing followed suit. Girls have been in Cub Scouts for years, too, just not officially.
Cub Scouting is family Scouting. When Cubs camp, the family camps — even girls. It’s heartwarming to see girls enjoy Scouting activities alongside their brothers, but heartbreaking to know they’re barred from participating officially or see them feel “not good enough” solely because they’re female. Fortunately, this is all about to change.
Girls will now be allowed into Cub Scout packs. The pack subdivisions (“dens”) will not be coed. Sponsoring organizations will have the power to decide if their packs will be all-girl, all-boy or coed. Girls are not joining the all-boy troops. In 2019 however, a separate program will be developed which will allow them to pursue the Eagle rank.
Women were once barred from civic clubs, certain schools, professions and voting. Their only “sin” was being female. Some still want such discrimination molding our boys today. Scouting is about training youth to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent leaders. They’re to have honor; do their best; have duties to God and country; help other people at all times; obey the Scout law; keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight. Why in the world would anyone want to limit this to boys? Don’t we want our boys to grow into men who marry women with these virtues?
If you don’t like the plays the BSA is running, learn the game before you start “coaching.” Study a playbook. Talk to coaches. Get to know some players and their families. Aspire to be more than a fan from afar. If not, at least pipe down so the rest of us can enjoy the game.
This article was originally written as an op-ed for The Jackson Son.