On Dec. 7, 2017, I completed a 12-year journey when I earned the rank of Eagle Scout. This is the highest rank a Boy Scout can reach. It was a monumental day. My Scoutmasters used to tell me from the time I was little that only three in 100 scouts complete their journey. From the start of my journey to now, much about scouting has changed. Recently, I awoke to the cover of the Wall Street Journal stating that the National Council was filing for bankruptcy to protect the assets of local councils from lawsuits alleging sexual abuse amid declining enrollment rates. But despite the challenges it faces, I believe that there is a strong future for scouting.
I owe so much to the scouting movement. It gave me many lifelong friends and useful skills such as orienteering. It instills a sense of purpose into young men by allowing them to be a part of something larger than themselves. It gave me an opportunity to be a part of a unit. That is why I find this news troubling. If Boy Scouts become an endangered species, then many will be left without the opportunity to develop as people. The scout oath instills a strong sense of duty toward God, country, community and self. The scout law reminds us of the qualities needed to fulfill our oath. From a young age, I was taught about respect for authority and what was possible when we all worked together.
I understand that in the age of technology we might find it more important to teach our children programming rather than a sense of outdoor adventurism combined with personal development, but the world would be worse off. If you look up famous Eagle Scouts, you will find titans of industry, politicians, astronauts and professional athletes. And if you were to ask any one of them, “what helped you achieve your success?” nine-times-out-of-ten being an Eagle Scout would be the first thing they mentioned aside from maybe their family. That is because scouting creates the perfect outlet for the development of leadership and respect through outdoor activities.
I do believe that there is a future for scouting, but it must never lose sight of its mission. Despite the many lawsuits you are probably going to hear about in the coming years about the horrific sexual abuse scandal, Boy Scouts of America remains an excellent organization for the development of youths like myself. Many of the uncovered cases are not recent and are only able to be brought up due to changes in New York and California law that temporarily remove the statute of limitations on sexual assault. That is no excuse for them happening, and I remain confident that the national council will meet all of their financial and moral obligations. All scout leaders attend training and many precautions are put in place to protect young people. I have no doubt that we have not seen the last of scouting.