Remembering the glory days of Boy ScoutsBy CLARK HICKS,
The Boy Scouts of America organization is exploring the option of bankruptcy. Unbelievable. Shocking. Disgraceful. These are a few of the words which come to mind.
The reason for the financial trouble? Lawsuits are one culprit, filed by victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by a few morally unfit Scoutmasters.
But another cause is declining membership, as society and culture are in constant change.
Children are pressured more to participate in year-round organized sports, which involves repeated travel and money.
The explosion of the video gaming industry is sucking away valuable juvenile time.
The outdoors is being pushed away by technology, with boys choosing computers over camping.
My goodness, how times have changed.
Scouting was in its heyday during my teenage years of the late 1970s.
Thanks to Boy Scouts, I learned leadership, character, courage, and yes, to be prepared.
For over 100 years, generations of boys like me became adept at skills such as knot tying and woodworking.
I learned outdoor abilities, such as how to canoe, archery, and wilderness survival. Scouting offered me exposure to basic first aid knowledge.
I worked hard to become a member of the prestigious Order of the Arrow, an organization within scouts committed to achieving the spirit of the scout oath and law in our daily lives.
My earliest understanding of and respect for Native Americans is directly traced to my local scout club, Troop 124 in McComb, Mississippi.
Each summer, my troop trekked to Camp Kickapoo near Jackson where we romped, swam in the lake, and participated in a variety of nature based activities.
The troops competed in tug of war, hiked through the forest, and we slept in tents under the stars. I learned conservation, minimizing the human footprint, how to start a fire without a match, and proper use of a compass.
Today, Boy Scouts has changed, in the spirit of becoming more inclusive.
The national organization recruits gays and girls. The girl part, in particular, seems odd to me.
With girls, I never would have learned the art of skinny dipping in a creek or wrestling in a mud pit!
Plus, I’m not sure the Girl Scouts of America wants boys as members. It’s all confounding and confusing to me, as one purpose of Boy Scouts is to provide boys with character building for manhood.
My hope is that Boy Scouts will persevere through these evolving times and continue to positively impact boys in the United States.
There really is no equivalent to scouting. Many of our nations’ leaders, men and women, were scouts. From Condoleezza Rice to Bill Clinton, the list of scouts is long and impressive.
So, as I write this article at 52 years of age, I renew the scout oath known to me by heart: 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.
Clark Hicks is a lawyer who lives in Hattiesburg. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.