The changing face of the Boy Scouts

"BE PREPARED" is the Boy Scout motto. It means "Always being ready to do what is necessary to help others." But does that include welcoming your kid sister into the troop? Our Cover Story is reported by Tony Dokoupil: Last Sunday in Portland, Oregon, a new group of Boy Scouts marched off in search of adventure. Time was being a called a "girl" in the Boy Scouts was an insult. Not anymore. As of three weeks ago, the Boy Scouts of America are admitting girls as Cub Scouts. And what do boys think of all this? "I already have to deal with my sister all day, every day," said Calvin Hickey. "And this is, like, the only time I get away from her really. So …" Calvin's sister, Mackenzie, was the first girl in the Pacific Northwest to sign up. He said, "Just be nice to the girls and don't be mean. Or else you won't get picked on a lot." Eight-year-old Jordanna Garcia had been coming to scouting for years, tagging along with her brother, Daniel. "Sometimes he would do, like, carving and other stuff. I just had to sit in the car, just do my notebook and start doing whatever I did," Jordanna said. Daniel noted, "I could hear inside her mind that she was really jealous about that." "You read my mind, bro," she smiled. A couple of days ago, they did Pinewood Derby. "I did a watermelon car," she said. "And he did a –" "Ferrari," Daniel noted. To be sure, it's still a work in progress, but something had to be done. Since the early 1970s the Boy Scouts have lost two-thirds of their annual membership -- some four million boys. And that's a tradition they want to change while still preserving almost everything else. With the light fading in the mountains of Utah, Boy Scout Troop 1262 out of Salt Lake City hustles to pack and stack an old-fashioned defense against the elements: an igloo. "If you're too cold, let's build a fire," said one Scout leader. Building campfires and igloos is the kind of outdoor adventure that's defined the Boy Scouts of America for more Continue Reading

Minnesota kids react to the Boy Scouts’ new gender-inclusive policy

The Boy Scouts of America sent shock waves across the country last week when it announced it would open its program to girls for the first time in its nearly 100-year history. Although girls long participated in Boy Scout events, they weren’t eligible to earn ranks. Now they’ll be able to join at the Cub Scout level and work their way up to the prestigious Eagle Scout rank. The organization said this new inclusionary policy, which goes into effect in 2018, is an effort to shore up declining membership. The decision was hailed, but also drew ire from Girl Scouts of the USA leadership, which also has had to grapple with sinking membership. We asked local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts what they thought about the announcement, what scouting has meant to them, and whether this move will affect their scouting futures. Aubrey Blumers 14, Girl Scout Cadette, Pine Island, Minn. What do you like about being a Girl Scout? “Being a Girl Scout has been the time of my life. I’ve learned independence, I’ve learned how to build a campfire, I’ve learned how to survive in the wilderness, I’ve learned financial responsibility, first aid and leadership.” What do you think about Boy Scouts allowing girls in? “Personally, I don’t agree with it. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have had a separate place in society for upwards of 100 years, and to me, combining two similar yet different organizations, I don’t think it’s going to work.” Shelby Carter 8, Girl Scout Brownie, Annandale, Minn. What do you think of the Boy Scouts letting girls join? “I feel super-excited and happy, because I get to hang out with my dad [ a Boy Scouts district chair] more often now.” After you join Boy Scouts, will you quit Girl Scouts? “I will stay in Girl Scouts, because they’re both fun things to do. And Girl Scouts will never quit.” Oliver Jurek 9, Cub Scout, Plymouth What do you like about Boy Scouts? “I Continue Reading

Can you be good without God? Boy Scouts face the question

In 2013, the Boy Scouts of America rescinded its ban on gay members. Two years later, it voted to allow gay adults in leadership. By 2017, the scouts announced that transgender boys would be allowed to join. And in October, the scouts announced that girls can become members. The one group still excluded by the Boy Scouts? People who don’t believe in God. “That was a cornerstone to growing developmentally as youth do, that they need to have a belief in a higher power,” said Brian Nastase, scout executive for the area Quivira Council. “And a belief in God means we are open to all faiths. We have Jewish scouts, we have Muslim scouts, Christian scouts, Buddhist scouts. It’s probably the most diverse organization in the city of Wichita, maybe even the country.” For Jerusha Lofland, that still excluded her son, who is now 14. Several years ago the organization came to her son’s school and invited him to a community event, which he attended. He was curious about scouting, Lofland said, but she had to have a discussion with him. “As we were becoming less religious at the time I realized it wasn’t going to be a good fit for him,” she said. “It does bother me that they’re trying to convince boys that they need a higher power, belief in a deity, that they are somehow superior to those who can’t believe that way.” Some say the exclusion of atheists boils down to a simple question: Whether you can be good without God. In some ways, the Boy Scouts are a microcosm of wider changes in society. As society became more accepting of LGBT individuals, so did the scouts. Now, the number of people who believe you can, in fact, be good without God is also on the rise. Good without God The number of adults who say you don’t need to believe in God to be moral is currently at 56 percent, compared to 49 percent in 2011, according to a study released by Pew Research Center in October. Part of that Continue Reading

President Monson an avid supporter of Boy Scout program, a ‘builder of boys’

1 of 14 View 14 Items Tom Smart, Deseret News President Thomas S. Monson at the Fourteenth Annual Great Salt Lake Council Boy Scouts of America Breakfast for Champions at the South Towne Exposition Center on April 13, 2002. Related Links Death of LDS President Thomas S. Monson sparks flood of tender tributes on social media President Monson's funeral scheduled for Friday, Jan. 12 25 literary favorites President Thomas S. Monson quoted in talks, devotionals How the LDS Church chooses its new president See photos from the life of President Thomas S. Monson On a bright and clear day in 1982, Elder Thomas S. Monson and his wife, Frances, visited London's Westminster Abbey and paused before the marble memorial of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. "I pondered the thought, 'How many boys have had their lives blessed — even saved — by the Scout movement begun by Baden-Powell?'" he said in his October 1982 general conference remarks. "Unlike others memorialized within the walls of Westminster Abbey, Baden-Powell had neither sailed the stormy seas of glory, conquered in conflict the armies of men, nor founded empires of worldly wealth. Rather, he was a builder of boys, one who taught them well how to run and win the race of life." When it comes to building boys into men, Baden-Powell and President Monson are kindred spirits. For most of his life, Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was an avid supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. He attended meetings of the National Executive Board of BSA, national and international jamborees, conventions and Eagle Scout courts of honor; he spoke to large Boy Scout gatherings, served as a merit badge counselor and championed the benefits of Scouting, as chronicled in his biography, "To the Rescue," by Heidi S. Swinton. "His enthusiasm for Scouting has never been about tying knots; it has been about touching lives," Continue Reading

Letter: Concerns over new Boy Scouts policy

Deseret News Letter to the Editor To everyone who has an opinion on Boy Scouts of America’s decision to let girls join the program, I thank you for your insight and respect for everyone’s point of view. And while BSA intends to start a program that will begin to integrate girls into BSA by having “Girls Only Troops,” it still does not change the core argument that BSA is changing the dynamic of Boy Scouts. This is the first step to the inevitable merger of male and female troops. While co-ed troops do exist and are successful in other countries, we only hear of the upsides of these troops because no one wants to talk about the downsides. I have no doubt that there are problems that never reach the public. I agree with those who have stated that the Boy Scout program would benefit girls in many ways; there are girls who want to learn the outdoor skills and codes of conduct taught by the Boy Scouts. I have no problem with that aspect of this proposal. But wouldn’t it serve girls better if the Girl Scout Program was updated, instead of throwing 107 years of Boy Scout history and tradition out the window? My concern is the continuing erosion of traditional programs for boys just because they do not include girls or other groups within our society. Why is it OK for girls to have a girls-only organization but not OK for boys to be exclusive? There are ways to stop this, though. Many petitions, have sprung up from Scouts and their families. I encourage you to add your name to show BSA that a group of administrators can’t change a program for millions of boys. Rik Bhattacharyya State College, Pennsylvania Enter your email here to subscribe to the daily Morning edition newsletter Sign up Continue Reading

Florida Boy Scout Leader Arrested For Child Porn Possession

A Florida Boy Scouts leader was arrested Tuesday on charges of possessing child pornography, WFTV-9 an ABC affiliate in Orlando reported. Michael Douglas Hanen, 67, was arrested at his Umatilla, Florida, home on possession of 38 images of children under the age of 18 on a “digital device,” according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Some of the pictures featuring boys and girls were as young as 2 years old. “Today was just the initial charges and there could be additional charges coming if we uncover digital evidence,” said Danny Banks, special agent in charge of FDLE’s Orlando region, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Boy Scout leader arrested on charges of child pornography, agents say — WFTV Eyewitness News (@WFTV) December 19, 2017 According to the report, FLDE agents started their investigation of Hanen after receiving a tip. This led to them searching the device that contained all of those images and the subsequent arrest. Since Hanen’s work with the Lake County Boy Scouts gave him extensive access to young children, the FLDE asked anyone with information on his behavior to call and report it. Hanen told police he was "very actively involved in Boy Scouts and has been for the past several decades," according to an affidavit.  Troop leaders' involvement in child pornography or other sex crimes has been a problem for the Boy Scouts for decades. In 2015, the Los Angeles Times tracked thousands of cases between 1947 and 2005. On Friday, a Louisiana scout leader was found guilty on two counts of oral sexual battery, molestation of a juvenile and 54 counts of pornography involving juveniles. In April, a former New Jersey scout leader was convicted on 11 child pornography charges. Continue Reading

First came acceptance of gay and transgender Scouts. Now girls can be Boy Scouts

The Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday that it will admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and establish a new program for teenage girls, a move that marks a historic shift for the organization founded for young men more than a century ago.Citing years of research and feedback from Scouts nationwide, officials from the group said that Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, which are larger and include a number of dens, will have the option to welcome both genders if they choose. The group’s board of directors voted unanimously in favor of the changes.“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement.“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best — developing character and leadership for young people — to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders,” he said.The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.For decades, the Boy Scouts’ Explorer program has allowed limited participation by girls, but Wednesday’s announcement expands their involvement. Since 1971, the group has offered coed programs in exploring and venturing.The shift by the Boy Scouts comes as the group has found itself embroiled in larger national debates about gender roles and sexual orientation. These debates, in turn, have led the Boy Scouts — which has about 2.3 million members — to examine Continue Reading

Boy Scouts Reaffirm Discrimination Against Gays

This morning came the unfortunate news that after a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America has emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding both gay youth and gay troop leaders. The Boy Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, defended the policy, contending that most Scout families support the policy: “The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” Mazzuca told ABC. “We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.” Since at least 2000, the Boy Scouts have been targeted with numerous protest campaigns and run afoul of several local nondiscrimination laws because of its long-standing membership policy, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000 in a 5-4 decision and has remained hotly contested ever since. One of the most well-known protest campaigns highlighted the discrimination faced by Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mother of a 7-year-old Cub Scout who was unceremoniously ousted as a Scout den mother because of her sexual preference. In an eloquent petition letter, Tyrrell detailed her work as a den mother and called for an end to blatant discrimination in an organization that has an enormous influence on the lives of many children, especially those living outside of major urban areas. Join more than 300,000 fellow concerned citizens who have added their name to Tyrrell’s call. The petition is meant to be delivered to the Scouts’ national headquarters in Irving, Texas, this week, so don’t delay. After you’ve weighed in, share this post with tour friends, family and Facebook and Twitter communities. Continue Reading

Girl Scouts: There’s no need to let girls into Boy Scouts

It has been over a month since the Boy Scouts of America announced it would accept girls into its core programs, but many Girl Scout participants and their parents remain skeptical of the change and its purported usefulness to young women.For over a century, scouting has been largely single gender. Although the Boy Scouts has co-ed programs such as its Venturing program, it never before welcomed girls into its Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs.  And many Girl Scouts don’t see why they should start now.“Our experiences are created for and with girls,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the Girl Scouts’ Chief Girl and Family Engagement Officer. “I think that’s important when we consider what appeals to them and what benefits them most.”The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. has been vocal in its opposition to the Boy Scouts' decision, with its president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan writing to the organization in August, asking the board to refrain from recruiting girls.Such a decision would “result in fundamentally undercutting Girl Scouts of the USA,” she wrote. More: Boy Scouts to allow young girls into Cub Scouts, parallel program for older girls More: Girls are stars in Girl Scouts. They'd be supporting players in Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts has long touted the unique benefits it provides girls, citing its long history of serving young women through programs built around the way girls learn and interact with each other.Mackenzie Kelly, a 17-year-old Girl Scout in Boston, Mass., said having a girls-only space has been very important to her.  “We have gotten really close and helped each other along the way,” she said of her troop. “I don’t think that tight-knit atmosphere would have been the same if there had been boys too.”“The majority of a girl’s life is in a co-ed environment,” said Archibald. “But this is a special place where Continue Reading

Best of the Rest: Renee Zellweger looking for a Boy Scout

If you want to promise your heart to Renee Zellweger, be prepared to give your Scout's honor. The actress dished to June's Glamour mag that she's looking for a guy who embodies an "encyclopedia and a dictionary... [and] a bit of the Boy Scouts handbook." But hold on, guys, Renee isn't sure she wants to give up the single life just yet. If she does, she says, "[my mate had] better be good—because I'm having fun!" Um, Dan Abrams, this may be news to you? www.glamour.comMove over, Hugh Jackman — Ryan Reynolds is the newest franchise in town. Reynolds, who plays Deadpool in the new "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," will get his very own spin-off film in which he plays the now-famous "indestructible semi-sane antihero." But don't worry, Hugh fans — a "Wolverine" sequel is already in the works, too. Jennifer Aniston would be happy to get together with her old "Friends" — but only if they "hurry up." The actress admits that a movie inspired by the hit TV show is unlikely, but says she'd only participate if it's done soon. Says the star: "[I wouldn't] want it to be like when the 'Brady Bunch' had a reunion and they were old." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading