Note: After the president’s controversial speech, the BSA National office released the following statement

“The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one political position, candidate or philosophy.

The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition dating back to President Franklin Roosevelt in 1937. Since then, an invitation to speak has been extended to every U.S. President that has had a Scout Jamboree occur during his term. This 80-year-old custom of inviting Presidents to speak to Scouts is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. Rather, the speaking invitation is based on our “Duty to Country” from the Scout Oath and out of respect for the Office of the President of the United States.

As one of America’s largest youth-serving organizations, the Boy Scouts of America reflects a number of cultures and beliefs. We will continue to be respectful of the wide variety of viewpoints in this country.”

In the interest of maintaining Scouting’s non-partisan stance, this article focuses on the portions of the speech that were about Scouting’s contributions to the nation, leaving out political rhetoric.

Tonight at the Summit Bechtel Reserve, President Donald J. Trump became the eighth president of the United States to visit the National Scout Jamboree. He spoke to a crowd of over 40,000 Scouts, staff, and volunteers who had begun filing through security into the area five hours prior to his arrival. The lines to enter the arena snaked toward the stadium from every part of the huge camp. Getting that many Scouts to one location and providing food and water for them must have been quite the logistical feat, but by the time the president arrived, Scouts were arranged in neat, color-coordinated sections.

President Trump’s speech included comments on his presidential campaign, healthcare, U.S. energy production, Christmas, and the media, but kept coming back to the value of Scouting for young people. He told the crowd, “There are many great honors that come with the job of being president of the United States. But looking out at this incredible gathering of mostly young patriots—mostly young—I’m especially proud to speak to you as the honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America. You are the young people of character and integrity who will serve as leaders in our communities and uphold the sacred values of our nation.”

POTUS Donald Trump
Scouts in line to see the president

He thanked BSA leaders, parents, and volunteers who have made Scouting possible, explaining that “When you volunteer for the Boy Scouts, you are not only shaping young lives; you are shaping the future of America. The United States has no better citizens than its Boy Scouts.”

He went on to explain how Scouting affects his work as president: “I’ll tell you, the reason I love this, and the reason I really wanted to be here, is because as president, I rely on former Boy Scouts every single day. And so do the American people. It’s amazing how many Boy Scouts we have at the highest level of our great government. Many of my top advisors in the White House were Scouts. Ten members of my cabinet were Scouts. Can you believe that? Ten.” These cabinet members include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (former BSA national president) and Vice President Mike Pence. Trump brought three other Scout cabinet members along with him: Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Secretary of Energy Rich Perry, and Secretary of Health Tom Price.

After extolling the efforts of these leaders, President Trump used their success to inspire the Scouts: “Each of these leaders will tell you that their road to American success . . . was paved with the patriotic American values and traditions they learned in the Boy Scouts. And some day, many years from now, as you look back on all the adventures in your lives, you will be able to say the same: I got my start as a Scout.”

The president also praised the efforts of these young people to serve others, saying, “Last year you gave more than 15 million hours of service to helping people in your communities. That’s an incredible statement.  All of you here tonight will contribute more than 100,000 hours of service by the end of this Jamboree. 100,000. When natural disaster strikes, when people face hardships, when the beauty and glory of our outdoor spaces must be restored and taken care of, America turns to the Boy Scouts, because we know that the Boy Scouts never ever ever let us down.”

President Trump told stories of his own experiences, clapped along to chants of “USA! USA!”, and began the Scout Law, then let the crowd finish it, joined in by advisors who raised their arms to the square. He told Scouts, “Let your Scouting Oath guide your path from this day forward. Remember your duty, honor your history, take care of the people God put into your life. And love and cherish your great country. You are very special people. You are special in the lives of America. You are special to me. But if you do what we say, I promise you that you will live Scouting’s adventure every single day of your life and you will win, win, win and help people in doing so.”

He closed by saying, “God bless you, God bless the Boy Scouts, God bless the United States of America. Go out, have a great time in life, compete, and go out and show me that there is nobody, nobody like a Boy Scout.”

39 comments

  1. Jay Kunze says:

    I would like to judge for myself just how “terribly pollitical” the speech was. A colleague in attendance reported back that it was a great speech, with only one statement that might be considered “political.” Is there a place where we can view the entire talk?

  2. Brett Williams says:

    Start, Stop, Continue. I would like to start standing up for what it right. Not because it’s popular or easy or will win me more friends. I want to stand up for what’s right becaus it’s right to do. I am going to STOP supporting scouting if the voice of scouting does not stand up for the values of scouting. I’m a Woodbadge trainner and have been active in scouting of the past 16 years. I know the values of scouting and what Trump presented was not scouting values. No one can control what he has to say, but I choose to stand up and say it was wrong. That’s part of my value of being honest. I have to say the truth even when it’s not popular. This year when it comes to supporting Friend of Scouting, I am neither going to contribute nor will I participate in any fund raising. I will continue to pray for the scouting organization and participate with the boy, but I will not support an organization that is not living by their own values.

  3. George Weight says:

    Another sad day for the Boy Scouts of America–yielding to the pressure to censor speech. Did the President’s remarks contain insensitive political rhetoric? Most likely. But that’s his responsibility, not the Jamboree’s.
    Time was when we could take our children aside and tutor them on what we agreed with and what we didn’t, encouraging them to search out pros and cons of any argument and come to their own conclusions. No more! We’ve got to have censorship, redaction, political correctness.
    I for one am offended that the Boy Scouts edited out the political remarks. I can think for myself, and I can teach the youth to do the same.
    We’re carrying way too many controversial chips on our shoulders. If the BSA wants to maintain diversity, they’ve got to find the way to lay out all sides of the issues, and let the chips fall where they may.

  4. Irritated Scout Parent/Volunteer says:

    I was not happy to see Trump’s face in “The Voice of Scouting” email a full week after the BSA finally came out with a weak apology regarding Trump’s very political rant. I had finally put it out of my mind, but had to be reminded of the unfortunate incident once again. To write an article about it and not talk about the way that his comments injected partisan politics into a BSA event is an irresponsible whitewashing of what took place. You can’t cherry pick certain comments and talk about them as if they have any value at all when so much of what he said was completely inappropriate. BSA leadership needs to quit while they are ahead and not be sending this out in emails.

  5. Eric Nelson says:

    Our Crew is considering leaving BSA not because of what Trump said, but because of how the national leadership has responded or not responded, really.

  6. Thomas A. Russell says:

    There is absolutely no need to apologize, explain or otherwise grovel to those who flyspecked the President’s speech to find something to criticize. The words were his and his alone, at least he, unlike the previous president, accepted the invitation. Be strong, Scouts!

    Thomas A. Russell
    Eagle Scout
    Father of an Eagle Scout
    Former District Chairman and Board member

  7. Carol Nichols says:

    This was such a disjointed, unimpressive, negative and inappropriate speech! I am mostly VERY disappointed that President Trump didn’t seem to take this event seriously and take the time to have staff craft a positive and meaningful speech for the Scouts and adults in attendance. This is not an over reaction, I would expect our PRESIDENT to use this opportunity to send an important, inspiring and audience appropriate message. I took the time to also read a transcript of the speech (and would encourage everyone to do this) to clarify for myself what was said. It is amazing to read……shameful really.
    I was also disappointed that many in the audience booed a former President which was not what I would hope we would want our Scouts to do.

  8. Kameron Kennemer says:

    DJT rocked the house and everyone loved it. The whining of the cry baby liberals who voted for Hillary Clinton is deafening.

  9. Joe Q Citizen says:

    With all due respect, I am wondering how many of the Tar-and-feather-the-bsa-leaders crowd here in this comment section actually listened to the entire speech or read the entire transcript. Were there some inappropriate partisan political remarks? Yes, absolutely. His off script comments were political, but his scripted comments were very praiseworthy. They were inspiring for scouts, extolled the virtues of scouting and praised the scouts for their contributions to American society. The scouts were also introduced to some high level gov officials who are Eagle Scouts, showing the scouts that earning the top rank can help benefit them in their career paths.

    The loud cheers and chants tell me that the scouts were excited and enjoying themselves. I doubt that the political talk really even registered with most of them. That is, until they got home and their parents told them how horrible, wrong and insulting it really was. Off with the BSA leaders heads!

  10. Dustin Schott says:

    Mr. Waldron’s comments are perfect as written. I’m astonished that the Jamboree committee asked a man, president or not, who is blatantly and overtly disobedient to every tenet of the Scout Law to address the BSA. The national organization continues to make it difficult to sell Scouting to the country’s youth. I feel less proud to be an Eagle Scout and to be associated with the BSA today.

  11. Eric P says:

    Wow get over it for those Trump haters. I was there and I can from first hand tell you that this was a highlight for all over our 36 scouts. Even for those scouts that are not from Republican families and honestly didn’t want to go, said they loved it and it was a great speech. When he mentioned that we are again allowed to say, “Merry Christmas” you should have heard the crowd. Even though I might personally not like all that Trump says or acts, it’s refreshing to have someone that isn’t afraid to speck up and worry about being PC all the time.

    PS Since scouting is supposed to be bipartisan and thus why a lot of you are whining about Trump speech, strange that I am not hearing all you lashing out about having BSA have Ex-Ambassadors get up and give a political speech about LGBT and supporting them!

  12. Pat Rathmann says:

    I too am in agreement with Matt Waldron’s statement. As a mother of an Eagle Scout, the wife of a former Scout Master, the past treasurer of a local Troop Committee and a registered member of the GSA for the past 72 years, I am appalled by Trump’s address and the response by the BSA. My husband and I contribute financially to two different BS Councils and will certainly have second thoughts about continuing our support at the same level until the BSA releases a must stronger criticism of Trump’s presentation. How our Muslim members must feel when praise is given to this individual who has publicly stated that they don’t belong in this country.

  13. Cindy Looper says:

    I did indeed listen to the entire speech. it was obvious to me at the beginning that the President had been asked to leave politics out of the speech. When he followed the speech it was very good. Unfortunately this President cannot be counted on to maintain a professional demeanor. I don’t think that anyone should be fired over this speech. It gives us the opportunity to talk to the scouts about acceptable and unacceptable behavior in Scouting. I do however feel that he should not be invited back for the next Jamboree!

  14. Don Peterson says:

    I agree that Scouting should be a non-political entity, just as it should be non-religious. By this, I mean that any individual in Scouting should be free to engage a political position or a religious position, or have none of either. Freedom is both freedom of and freedom from.

    I have no complaint that Scouting invited this, and previous, Presidents to speak to them. That is not a partisan act. Prior to this time, our cultural norms of public behavior could be expected to guide a President’s words in speaking to a gathering of young boys. In hindsight, it should be no surprise that this President is not bounds by the long-standing norms of public decency. Should this known characteristic of the President have kept the BSA from inviting him to speak? Perhaps not. But we have to agree that his words were in direct conflict with many of the time-honored tenets of Scouting. It would be correct for BSA to NOT omit the President’s words, and play like they never happened. I would expect the BSA leaders to speak out specifically against the statements that are contrary to the worthy standards of Scouting. To not do so is to endorse them with silence.

    If an adult came into a Troop meeting and presented similar statements to an official gathering, what would be the appropriate response by the Troop leaders? Would they remain silent, thereby hinting that what had just been said should be embraced by the boys? I don’t think so.

    Our primary duty is to the boys, and their upbringing. We must always speak out against statements and behaviors contrary to the character-building standards of Scouting. It is not a political act to decry foulness and corrupt behavior.

    1. Eric Nelson says:

      Your comment was exactly how I think the BSA should respond. Instead the Scout Exec took no position other than to apologize for the rhetoric. I was more concerned about the immature and even crude parts of the speech. Wholly inappropriate for any speaker.

  15. David Gunnells says:

    I am really surprised at the over-reaction to this whole event. The media has certainly over-exaggerated the speech with headlines describing it as a “Nazi Youth Rally”, “Disgusting”, “Toxic”, “Cringeworthy”, etc. I see some of the same sentiments echoed above. I guess we should all quit the Scouts, dis-band and go home. Here are my thoughts. The Boy Scouts have a long-standing tradition of inviting the President of the United States to speak. Respect for the office, maybe not the man. So, they continued this tradition even though many people do not like the current President. The BSA does not control the speech or write it for him. The statement by the head of the BSA was, in my opinion, completely appropriate. If you were offended – sorry! The BSA is non-partisan and will remain that way. Sounds OK to me.

    With regards to the speech itself, did any of you who commented read the transcript or listen to the speech? All 48 minutes of it? The “political rhetoric” was maybe a dozen sentences in 48 minutes of talking. Most of the comments, such as the reference to loyalty, were vague and probably not understood by the age 14-18 year old Scouts at the Jamboree. The majority of the speech dealt with comments about the Scouts, success, the merits of Scouting, etc. The boys cheered often, mainly for comments about Scouting. They chanted “USA, USA” several times. Shocking…

    For the boys in attendance, this truly was a once-in-a-lifetime event in a lot of ways. They were excited and it showed in their cheering. It seems like some of the parents, other adults, CNN, the Washington Post and company had problems with the speech. Is our President a likeable guy? Not really. Best role model – not really. Point out someone in Washington who is… Was it a great speech – not really. Was it disgusting – no, not even close. But, he is the President of the United States. Elected by the people. This is how democracy works. Check out Citizenship in the Nation merit badge if you have questions on that.

    Full disclosure: Eagle Scout, current Asst Scoutmaster, proud parent of a Boy Scout

    1. Eric Nelson says:

      Even ONE immature or politically motivated sentence is too much. Trumps self aggrandizing and inappropriately sexual innuendo was absolutely against our Law and Oath. If I make a poor choice of words in front of my Scouts or in a Committee meeting I expect my Crew to call me on it.

    2. Wm Gee says:

      Agree. Thank you for a well-balanced response. No resignations. Respect for the positions, and respect for each other. A Scout is friendly, not just to those who are friendly to him.

    3. WEAJD says:

      Someone should have stepped in and cut off the president. Kill the mike maybe when he started going political. We all know his behavior and speeches now. The scout leaders should have been prepared for it. There was a pastor in a church that cutoff Trump and warned him that his church was not a place for political rhetoric. Clearly Trump is not the adult in the room. Someone else has to step up.

      1. Eric P says:

        Wow WEAJD what a great example for censorship and not free speech. My scouts are smart enough to judge what they hear and come to their own opinion. It amazes me how liberal people always want to censor conservative speech, but are totally fine with scouting promoting and not worrying to censor liberal speech, such as ex-ambassadors talk that was given to the scouts at the same Jamboree. Scouting is about citizenship, thus three required MBs on this topic and one of the greatest freedoms we have as a country is free of speech. Too bad people like you want to rid us of this freedom!!

  16. Adam cox says:

    First, this version is indeed a whitewashing of the whole appearance. The President was way out of line. Granted he did heap praise on the BSA.

    That being said no one should loose any of their positions

  17. #RESIST says:

    I agree with everything Mr. Waldron said. AND to say the least it was chilling. Brainwashing, radicalizing, sowing seeds of hate….what a great event for impressionable young men. Yep, History will repeat itself.

  18. Steve Denney says:

    Trump’s partisan remarks were entirely inappropriate for this event. The BSA is not as branch of the Republican party!!

  19. Michael Hartford says:

    This was a blatantly partisan and mean-spirited speech, not in keeping with the values of Scouting at all, and it did a great disservice to the youth and adults who dedicate so much time and energy to this movement. It makes my job as Scoutmaster harder when things like this happen; and it sets a terrible example for Scouts, who see bullying, lying, and pettiness rewarded, and it tarnishes the reputation of Scouting, making us seem like a backward and insular organization just at a time when we need to be forward-thinking and welcoming.

    I tell my Scouts when they mess up that I don’t care how it happened, I care that they make it right and prevent it from happening again. That’s the case here as well; the statements I’ve seen so far from National Council about this travesty have been weak at best. Damage was done and must be repaired.

    Michael Hartford
    Eagle Scout, 1984; former Cubmaster, Pack 120; current Scoutmaster, Troop 1

  20. Tom Fay says:

    What Matt Waldron said. Verbatim.

    Tom Fay
    2 years & current Chartered Organization Representative, Laguna Presbyterian Church
    9 years, Cubmaster, Pack 35
    4 years, Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 35

  21. Madison Austin
    Madison Austin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Politics aside, it is always a memorable experience to see a sitting president. What a great experience for so many young boys. I am sure they will remember this forever. Thanks Jamboree!

  22. Darryl Alder
    Darryl Alder ( User Karma: 8 ) says:

    Well he is the Honorary President of the Boy Scouts by nature of his position. Most youth were polite and cheered for him; his message may not have affected them as much as it seems to be affecting us as adults. For many it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

  23. Maloree Anderson
    Maloree Anderson ( User Karma: 1 ) says:

    It was exciting to have the President of the United States come to Jamboree. What a great opportunity for these Scouts to get to hear directly from the President. He had nothing but praise for the Scouting organization. Not many Americans can say they got to meet the president, but these Scouts got to and they were enthusiatastic about his presence.

  24. Matt Waldron says:

    Members of the BSA National Executive Board:

    As a Boy Scout parent and former Cub Scout leader, I am dismayed at the BSA’s inclusion of President Donald Trump in the 2017 National Scout Jamboree. He is demonstrably the antithesis of one who adheres to core principles of Scouting. It is disappointing that the BSA engaged him to speak at the National Jamboree, disappointment made still worse by the content of his speech.

    It is appropriate at this time for National President Randall L. Stephenson and National Commissioner Charles W. Dahlquist II to each tender their resignations from their volunteer positions with the Boy Scouts of America. Additionally, any other members of the National Executive Committee who were affirmatively involved in arranging for President Trump to speak at the 2017 National Scout Jamboree should also resign.

    President Trump’s historically unapologetic bad behavior and commentary both disqualified him from inclusion in a BSA event and made his unacceptable comments at the Jamboree easily predictable. An effective and responsible leadership team would have been proactive in shielding our Scouts from this corrupting influence, and definitely wouldn’t have endorsed it.

    The motivation for this communication is not political, but moral. President Trump has, through his own public actions, policies, and commentary, empirically violated nearly every tenet of the Scout Oath, Scout Law, and Outdoor Code. Unfortunately, the BSA leadership’s judgement has been corrupted by the star power and influence of the presidency which leaves many of us to wonder about its commitment to the organization’s guiding principles as outlined below.

    The Scout Oath
    “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

    The Scout Law (with explanations of each quality from meritbadge.org)
    “A Scout is Trustworthy
    -A Scout tells the truth. He keeps his promises. Honesty is part of his code of conduct. People can depend on him.
    A Scout is Loyal
    -A Scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.
    A Scout is Helpful
    -A Scout is concerned about other people. He does things willingly for others without pay or reward.
    A Scout is Friendly
    -A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He seeks to understand others. He respects those with ideas and customs other than his own.
    A Scout is Courteous
    -A Scout is polite to everyone regardless of -age or position. He knows good manners make it easier for people to get along together.
    A Scout is Kind
    -A Scout understands there is strength in being gentle. He treats others as he wants to be treated. He does not hurt or kill harmless things without reason.
    A Scout is Obedient
    -A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobey them.
    A Scout is Cheerful
    -A Scout looks for the bright side of things. He cheerfully does tasks that come his way. He tries to make others happy.
    A Scout is Thrifty
    -A Scout works to pay his way and to help others. He saves for unforeseen needs. He protects and conserves natural resources. He carefully uses time and property.
    A Scout is Brave
    -A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.
    A Scout is Clean
    -A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean. He goes around with those who believe in living by these same ideals. He helps keep his home and community clean.
    A Scout is Reverent
    -A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.”

    The Boy Scout Outdoor Code
    “As an American, I will do my best to—
    Be clean in my outdoor manners
    Be careful with fire
    Be considerate in the outdoors
    Be conservation-minded”

    Again, I call at this time for the immediate resignations of both National President Stephenson and National Commissioner Dahlquist, as well as resignations of any other members of the National Executive Board who played an affirming role in engaging President Trump’s participation in the event. Your past service is appreciated, but it is time for new leadership.

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