Back in the Lanier’s El Nopal newspaper, there was an Apt to Succeed column and I was one of the featured students. My quote was “I’m proud to be a scoutmaster’. I was 19 years old, and I had spent two years being a scoutmaster while I was in school. I was already in the Army Reserves and spending every Tuesday for drills at Ft. Sam Houston and that’s when I was working after school as a delivery boy.
The troop was at Wesley Community Center. I was raised in that area along with several Lanierites. We played softball and basketball on the grounds covered with gravel. On one of my visits as an older teenager, the director had asked me to be a scoutmaster for a troop they were organizing. I accepted the challenge.
The kids who wanted to be scouts came from the area around the community center. Some were able to get their scout uniform and others had misfits of uniforms. I was able to fashion them into one patrol with a young man in charge. For two years I met with them and plan camping activities and going on competive camporees with other troops. We didn’t win much but the experience helps each boy with their growing up.
One of the problems was advancing to the next rank. It was easy going to the first two rank from tenderfoot to second class. However, first class, you had to get some merit badges. The problem was they had to contact a professional in those areas to work toward the merit badge. There weren’t any professionals in the area around us that I knew of.
I still believe in the program because it offers a young boy a series of challenges. Yes, it does build character. The program shows how to survive in the outside world. Not only in the woods but learning to be a leader and how to discipline themselves through everyday problems. The Scout Oath is not taken lightly. Ask some of our U.S. presidents who were scouts.
Look at today’s scout program. There is the basic membership in a troop where boys ages 11-14 learn to grow up and work as a team. Then there’s the14-20 year old’s programs like the Explorer program where older boys ages can learn a career path like law enforcement. There’s the Venturing program where older teens learn about organizing and planning for outdoor activities. There’s the Sea Scouts where young men learn about naval experiences and be on a ship. The last one is called Stem scouting. This is where older teens learn about the world through science, technology, and lab work.
The scouting program now includes girls. This is controversial but the girls readily entered the program and have become adapt to the challenges and some of them have worked all the way to the rank of Eagle, the highest rank that can be earned. They also have recruited women to be scoutmasters which was a man’s position before the sexual abuse scandal which is still in the courts.
As of this date settlements have been offered and I’m not sure that this is over. However, the programs will keep on going. Looking back as a former scoutmaster and a former employee as a District executive in the Boy Scout of America Corporate (BSA), I believe that the agencies who provide the leaders for the BSA should do a background check on the men or women who will guide the boys and girls in the scouting program which hadn’t been done before. The agency owns the unit whether it be a troop, cub scouts or others. Not the other way around. The BSA would never circumvent the authority of the agency of whom to pick to lead the scouting program. However, the BSA trains those men and women for their respective position and maintains contact with them as to their progress.
The scouting program is still a character-building program. Many men and women can attest to it. It is built on the Scout Oath and the Scout Laws. To this day I still remember the laws just as I remember my Army serial number. It stays with you and keeps you “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight”.