Trustworthy. Morally straight.
Most Boy Scouts promise weekly that they will abide by these two character traits. Trustworthy is the first point in the Scout Law and morally straight is the last point in the Scout Oath.
Scout leaders swear along with them during the opening and closing flag ceremonies. After 14,500 pages of files chronicling sexual abuse cases of adult leaders molesting children were posted earlier this month, it’s obvious that as an organization, the Boy Scouts of America have not been living up to their own code.
Due to this lack of transparency by adult leaders from Los Angeles to the Adirondacks, the reputation of Scouting will be forever tainted. However, the ideals of Scouting that were established by Robert Baden-Powell in 1910 are still wholesome and applicable to this day.
As an Eagle Scout from Troop 787, located in Mission Viejo, some of the fondest memories of my childhood involved Scouting. I remember camping with my friends, rock climbing, shotgun shooting, backpacking and going to summer camp on Catalina Island. I rafted the Kern rapids and even canoed from the Hoover Dam down the Colorado River.
Scouting gave me experience of leading a group of around 40 boys on camping trips and in weekly meetings. It taught me everything from learning how to clean a rifle to basic finance management. After traveling a week on the east coast and camping at Ft. A.P. Hill in Virginia for 10 days at the age of 14, I was completely comfortable away from home.
The organization helped me make friends and find confidence and provided opportunity to do things that few kids can claim they did in their childhood.
My interaction with the adults of my troop was always managed carefully. Adult leaders were only allowed to interact with Scouts if there were at least two leaders present and all adult leaders were required to go through Youth Protection Training, courses that outlined how adults can appropriately interact with Scouts and report any incidents of sexual abuse. During my time with Troop 787, we experienced no such incidents.
After hearing the news that thousands of scandals were covered up by Scout leaders and other officials throughout the nation, I feel ashamed of my affiliation with the organization.
Since I passed my board of review for the rank of Eagle Scout in December 2008, I’ve carried with me a laminated card that has the Scout Oath and Law and Eagle Scout Promise with me daily in my wallet. While I can still recite all three of these passages by memory to this day, I periodically read it in order to remind myself of the obligations that I hold to myself and to my community.
Trustworthy comes to mind first in this situation. The Boy Scouts must not only be trustworthy toward the members of its organization, but also to the Scouts and public it serves. All incidents should be transparent to the public and offenders should be punished by their community law enforcement agencies.
Attempts to cover up incidents by leaders is immoral. Boy Scouts serve their communities around the nation and because of the positive reputation that the organization has held in the past, most community members trust the organization and its leaders. While the lewd acts by leaders in troops across the nation is horrifying, the lack of forthcomingness by bystanders in the organization is even more despicable.
The abuses themselves will be far less damaging to the Boy Scouts than the subsequent cover-ups.
The spirit of the Scouting movement will always be valuable, however. Applying the 12 points of the Scout law to my life on a daily basis has made me a happier and more successful person. The camping, hiking and fishing I enjoyed throughout my youth have given me a wonderful outlook on the world and nature and I still keep in contact with many of the friends that I met in Scouting.
If the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America can learn to be more transparent and proactive in preventing future incidents of sexual abuse, I might be able to take pride again in my earned rank of Eagle Scout.