First girls on LI are joining the Boy Scouts

In her own words, Jasmin Fields-Robinson is making history. She is among the first girls on Long Island to join the Cub Scouts following a decision last fall by the Boy Scouts of America to open up scouting to both genders. “I actually feel very proud of myself for being one of the few girls that enrolled in Cub Scouts . . . (for) just making history,” the 10-year-old said. Cub Scout Pack 371 in Brentwood is the first on Long Island to take advantage of a pilot program that is bringing girls into the Boy Scouts. The new den has had eight girls officially join the Cub Scouts — a phase of scouting typically reserved for boys age 10 and younger. “These girls have been the silent witnesses to scouting for so long,” Cubmaster Jason Klosowicz said. “They’ve been kind of waiting in the wings to make their entrance into scouting . . . They’re all here because they believe in the values we have.” In October 2017, the Boy Scouts of America board of directors unanimously approved plans to welcome girls into the Cub Scout program, and to offer an option for older girls that will allow them to earn the high rank of Eagle Scout. The national organization started the process with the Cub Scouts, which will be available to girls nationwide in August, officials said. Several other Cub Scout packs in Suffolk and Nassau counties are also starting pilot programs and holding open houses to welcome girls into the fold. Officials said that the decision followed years of requests from girls and their families, and was informed by research and input from current members and leaders within the institution. “What we have noticed for the last several years is that most of the families that participate in our Cub program already do it as a family,” said Lauren Vlachos, chief operating officer for the Suffolk County Council, Boy Scouts of America. “The little sisters are tagging along . . . yet they aren’t able Continue Reading

How this teen earned all the Boy Scout merit badges

DALLAS — Jeffrey Nebeker, 18, of Frisco, Texas, has earned all the merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America, completing the requirements just weeks before his 18th birthday.Bugling was the final badge for Nebeker to earn, and it took seven years to finally complete."It was a bitter end with that bugling," said his mother, Marisa Nebeker, with a laugh.Jeff, a member of Troop 187, sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, earned his Eagle Scout status — which requires 21 badges — in 2013. And he just kept going."If you have an interest in anything, there's a merit badge for it," said Jeff's father, Ryan Nebeker.Some badges were harder than others, Jeff said. The cycling badge required a 50-mile ride.  “I didn’t realize how long 50 miles actually was until I biked it,” Nebeker told the Frisco Enterprise. More: Girl Scouts: There's no need to let girls into Boy Scouts More: Boy Scouts chief after Trump speech: We regret that ‘politics were inserted’ Each badge took sacrifice and not just on Jeff's part. Achieving his goal took up many Saturdays. That gave a father quality time with his son."Pretty much he was the one who drove me to finish everything," said Jeff.According to the Boy Scouts of America website, there are "more than 135 merit badges." A boy in Pennsylvania reportedly earned 139 badges last year, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Zach Rotzal told the newspaper he also devoted weekends to the Scouting challenge, while surviving a lightning strike, a tornado and two floods.Zach and Jeff are in rare company. Only about 367 people have earned every badge, and that's since the beginning of the Scouts in 1910. A website called keeps an unofficial tab of those racking up the badges. On its registry, at least seven boys have earned 142 merit badges.According to the Continue Reading

Local Scout has earned the Boy Scout’s highest rank advancement

Staff report Published 3:12 pm, Monday, January 15, 2018 Photo: Courtesy Photo Image 1of/1 CaptionClose Image 1 of 1 Eric Morris of Oak Forest has earned the Boy Scouts of America's highest advancement award, the Eagle Scout Award. Eric Morris of Oak Forest has earned the Boy Scouts of America's highest advancement award, the Eagle Scout Award. Photo: Courtesy Photo Local Scout has earned the Boy Scout's highest rank advancement 1 / 1 Back to Gallery Oak Forest resident Eric Morris has earned the Boy Scouts of America's highest advancement award, the Eagle Scout Award. Morris will be recognized in ceremonies on Jan. 20. A member of Troop 20, chartered by St. Matthew's United Methodist Church, Morris is one of only approximately 6 percent of all Boy Scouts who attain the Eagle rank. Each candidate must earn 21 merit badges and successfully complete a community, church or synagogue-related service project to earn his Eagle. Morris' Sunnyside Canopy Project aimed to provide much needed shade for the volunteer gardeners in Urban Harvest's two community gardens in Sunnyside. Sunnyside is one of Houston's largest food deserts and these gardens provide nutritious fruits and vegetables for the community. Over two Saturdays, volunteers from Troop 20 and a local church youth group set posts, installed shade canopies, and restored the garden beds that had been overgrown with weeds due to Hurricane Harvey. "I could not be more grateful for all of their hard work and dedication and the amount of effort they showed towards the project," said Morris. "Knowing that what we were doing was going to make a huge impact in Sunnyside was the most exuberating feeling one can possibly have." Morris, now 18, is a senior at St. Pius X High School, where he ran cross country and currently plays on the varsity tennis Continue Reading

Readers sound off on Puerto Rico, the Boy Scouts and Al Sharpton

Trump throws in towel on decency Woodside: President Trump tweeted Thursday that we can’t keep helping Puerto Rico. We have spent $4.2 trillion dollars on Afghanistan. We do not have a lot to show. There is something wrong with abandoning Americans. This guy doesn’t get it. Richard TobiassenRay HackinsonShaun Reen Gaia’s revenge Flushing: As raging wildfires engulf a large portion of Northern California, one must ponder the events of the past few months. It has been a crazy and chaotic time filled with natural disasters that have been striking our beleaguered nation with astounding regularity. Three hurricanes have had devastating effects on large parts of the South and U.S. territories in the Caribbean. Hellacious wildfires have scorched earth in the North and West, cremating everything in their path. Add to that the deadly earthquakes to neighbors across our southern borders, and you must begin to question if our Earth, a living organism, is trying to tell us something. Perhaps Mother Nature is trying to send a message that the recent assault on every environmental act enacted in the last decade must be stopped. Liz Nacinovich Chopped liver? Brooklyn: The Boy Scouts of America will allow girls to join. I see this as a slap in the face to the Girl Scouts. Why do some people view the Girl Scouts as a group offering less opportunity? It has wonderful programs. And they have had far fewer scandals. I am a proud Girl Scout alum. Ellen Levitt It’s not about Trump Kew Gardens: To Voicer Harvey Beyer: The truth is NFL players started taking a knee in protest of race, inequality and in solidarity in 2016. So despite your claim, yes, they did “pull this” when Barack Obama was President. And you have absolutely no way of knowing if they would be doing it if Hillary Clinton were President. As to whether they all hate Trump, who knows. But if you think that is the message they are trying to send, you need to pay Continue Reading

Mormon church pulls support from the Boy Scouts, denies decision is about gay policies

The Mormon church, the biggest sponsor of Boy Scout troops in the United States, announced Thursday it is pulling as many as 185,000 older youngsters from the organization as part of an effort to start its own scouting-like program. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said the move wasn’t triggered by the Boy Scouts of America’s decision in 2015 to allow gay troop leaders, since Mormon-sponsored troops have remained free to operate according to their religious teachings. Instead, the church said it wanted a new, simplified program more closely tailored to Mormon teenagers. Boys ages 14 to 18 will no longer participate in Boy Scouts starting next year, according to the church. The Boy Scouts said the decision will affect 130,000 teens; the church put the number at 185,000. About 280,000 Mormon boys ages 8 to 13 will remain in the Scouts while the church continues to develop its own program, the Mormons said. The Boy Scouts put the number at 330,000. The loss is only a fraction of the 2.3 million youths in the Boy Scouts of America, but the organization has been grappling with declining membership for years and has enjoyed an unusually close bond with the Mormon church for more than a century. Joining the Boy Scouts is practically automatic among Mormon boys, with the church covering the cost of troops for congregations and strongly encouraging participation. Boy Scouts of America spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos said the organization is saddened by the decision but understands the church’s desire to customize a program. For years, the church has been working to create a scouting-like program it could use around the world, since more than half of its nearly 16 million members are outside the United States. Scouting is available only in the U.S. and Canada. The church did not provide a timeline for the rollout of the program for younger age groups. Like Continue Reading

President Trump’s speech at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree versus Obama’s in 2010

Merit America Great Again. President Trump's full-throttled, self-congratulatory speech punctuated by jingoism that he delivered at the National Scout Jamboree Monday brought about a rapid response from angry members online as well as the Boy Scouts of America itself, the group stating afterwards that it's "wholly non-partisan and does not promote any one position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy." As a whole, his performance has been noted for the way in which it harshly broke with tradition, with no President in the past eight decades ever using the opportunity to tell thousands of scouts and their families how his political opponent took Michigan for granted. To get a better understanding of just how bizarre the address was, here's a look at how his speech stacks up against President Obama's pre-recorded remarks in 2010. Length They say brevity is the soul of wit, but nothing is as important as telling teens about a story involving a guy named William Levitt who "went personally bankrupt, and he was now much older. And I saw him at a cocktail party, and it was very sad because the hottest people in New York were at this party." For 38 minutes, Trump trotted out his greatest hits, bringing up everything from "the fake news" and the Electoral College to people not saying "Merry Christmas" anymore when they do their holiday shopping, not to mention a random anecdote seemingly having little to do with anything. In contrast, Obama's videotaped speech was 1 minute and 34 seconds. Message Acknowledging the Boy Scouts' 100th anniversary, the former Illinois senator weaved together the history of the organization and what he hopes for the future of the individual members. "For a century, scouts just like you have served your communities in ways big and small," said Obama, a former member. "During World War II, scouts played a vital role at home by Continue Reading

Voicers sound off on Russia, Ethel Rosenberg and the Boy Scouts

Obama proved he could hack it Bronx: Outgoing President Barack Obama is a deliberate and cautious man who does not rush to judgment. He did the right thing by expelling Russian diplomats from our country because of the role Vladimir Putin played in our election (“Obama boots 35 Russian spies, sanctions intelligence agencies over hacking scandal,” Dec. 29). Obama acted deliberately and forcefully to deter one of the biggest enemies to our country. His critics never gave him credit for all the great things that he has accomplished despite all the opposition. History will give him his accolades in due time. J. Crestwell Munnings Henderson, Nev.: Wow! Not a single shred of evidence has yet been proffered that the Russian government was involved in influencing the U.S. election. Yet President Obama is desperate to make Russia a scapegoat for the failures of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. What chutzpah! Michael Pravica Something’s fishy San Francisco: One certainly has to wonder why Donald Trump is continuing to deny Russian hacking. Our intelligence agencies seem to be in agreement, but he continues to disagree. So the questions become: Where is he getting his information from? And why is he defending Putin so vigorously? It seems pretty fishy to me. Jimmy Layton Blame the Dems Brooklyn: Russia hacked exposed emails that were written by Democrats. Russia did not write the emails and only revealed the truth. The Democrats can only blame themselves. William Thurlow No need for another Cold War Flushing: One of Donald Trump’s campaign promises was to “put America first.” Now that we are in contention with Russia, I hope that he will remember that promise. Would treating Russia as an evil adversary and engaging in a perpetual Cold War benefit our nation? I don’t believe that it would. Would kowtowing to Russia’s every whim and trying to appease its leaders at any cost be beneficial to our nation? I Continue Reading

Madonna is GLAAD to honor Anderson Cooper and calls out the Boy Scouts to end gay ban

It was a gay (and lesbian) old time at the 24th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards, where Madonna called for revolution, and NFL players, newscasters, “Jersey Shore” stars and Honey Boo Boo joined in the chant for civil rights. Dressed in a faux Cub Scouts uniform bearing the number 13, Madonna stole the show in an 11-minute speech before urging the Boy Scouts of America “to change their stupid rules” of banning gay members. She compared discrimination against homosexuals to white supremacists lynching black people in the Deep South and said, “I don’t know about you, but I can’t take this s— anymore. That’s why I want to start a revolution. Are you with me? It’s 2013. We live in America — the land of the free and home of the brave? That’s a question, not a statement.” After being introduced by Madonna, Anderson Cooper took the stage to receive the Vito Russo Award for promoting equality. There, the Material Girl gave him a big hug, grabbed his butt, then tattooed him with big messy kisses that left the CNN anchorman wiping red lipstick from his mouth. “I’ve had so many blessings in my life and being gay is certainly one of the greatest blessings,” said Cooper, thanking his boyfriend, Benjamin Maisani. “It has allowed me to love and to be loved.” Up to that point, the best-received comment of the night came when Honey Boo Boo, who was featured in a video montage, said, “Ain’t nothing wrong with being gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” Though Honey Boo Boo wasn’t there, her mother, Mama June Shannon tells [email protected] that staying active on the set of “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” helped her shed 100 pounds. “If I lose more weight, I lose more weight,” she said nonchalantly. “I’m happy with who I am and I’ve always taught my kids Continue Reading

California mulls bill that would take away tax breaks from the Boy Scouts of America due to its gay ban

SAN FRANCISCO — California lawmakers are considering taking some tax exemptions away from youth groups that do not accept gay, transgender or atheist members — a move intended to pressure the Boy Scouts of America to lift its ban on gay Scouts and troop leaders. Some cities have withdrawn free rent and other subsidies from the Boy Scouts over the years, but legislation introduced by state Sen. Ricardo Lara would make California the first state to target the Scouts for its anti-gay policy. The Long Beach Democrat's bill, SB 323, is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Wednesday. "Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians," Lara said. "SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups." The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed the Texas-based organization's ban on openly gay members last summer then announced in January that it was revisiting the decision. In February, the group said it would submit a resolution on rescinding the policy to the 1,400 members of Scouting's National Council in May. Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the organization was aware of Lara's bill and would provide feedback on it to the Senate Governance and Finance Committee before Wednesday's hearing. "Beyond that, and our previous statements on membership standards, we don't have anything to add at this time," Smith said. The legislation, also known as the Youth Equality Act, would deny tax-exempt status to nonprofit youth groups that discriminate on the basis of gender identity, race, sexual orientation, nationality, religion or religious affiliation. As a result, it would require those organizations to pay corporate taxes on donations, membership dues, camp fees and Continue Reading

The Boy Scouts respond after President Trump’s speech: We are ‘wholly non-partisan’

After President Trump gave a fiery political speech before a huge crowd of Boy Scouts, the Boy Scouts of America insisted that it doesn't promote politics.Here's the full statement: The Boy Scouts of America is wholly non-partisan and does not promote anyone position, product, service, political candidate or philosophy. The invitation for the sitting U.S. president to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies. The sitting U.S. president serves as the BSA's honorary president. It is our long-standing custom to invite the U.S. president to the National Jamboree.Boy Scout policy does indeed specify that scouts in uniform should not appear in places where people "could construe their presence as an endorsement of symbol or support."The president's speech, which included lashing out at his predecessor and complaining of his political opponents, has drawn much backlash.  Continue Reading