Commissioner’s Blog #2

Commissioner’s Blog #2

John Hovanesian, M.D.

Reposted May 9, 2013

Regardless of Controversy, Scouting Must Go On

Fellow parents, volunteers, and supporters of Scouting:

It’s no secret that Scouting is now facing one of the most challenging times in its 100+ year history. Our movement is facing a membership standards controversy where factions on either side have agendas that offer no room for compromise.

As a symbol of what America believes in, Scouting–an organization that aims simply to prepare young people to make a lifetime of ethical and moral choices by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law—needs to cast a vote in our country’s own evolving struggle over what is right and what is fair.

Just two weeks from now at the National Annual Meeting of the BSA will open the next chapter in our history, as about 900 delegates from around the country decide whether or not to change Scouting’s membership standards. Regardless of the outcome, Scouting is now more vulnerable than it has ever been. Hundreds of churches and civic groups have vowed no longer to sponsor Scout troops or Cub packs if the vote does not go their way. Long-time donors on both sides have drawn lines in the sand, predicating their future support on the outcome of the ballot. And, most sadly, hundreds of volunteers have already left the movement, and thousands more, perceiving themselves as the losers in the struggle, may do so after the vote.

But whatever happens at the Boy Scout National Annual Meeting, we who truly love this great movement need to recognize that Scouting must go on. However deeply divided some are, we all share a commitment to growing young people into capable leaders. Doing that effectively requires our commitment, unencumbered by the distraction of issues of the day.

Two years ago, the father of an 8 year old boy in my den died of a brain tumor after a heroic, two month battle. At his dad’s funeral, young, tearful Duke asked, “Who is going to take me camping now?”

Another leader I know was asked by the mother of a fatherless boy to teach him how to shave.

And how many parents have told you, seasoned leaders, that Scouting made their son a better student, boosted his confidence, or prepared him to save a life.

Like these stories, countless future kids are absolutely depending on us to see past our differences and love a program that, like a child of our own, is not always exactly what we want it to be. Doing so, we give our world a treasure and create a legacy that, for most of us, will far exceed the impact of our professional careers.

So whether we give our money, our institution’s sponsorship of a unit, or our personal time to Scouting, now more than ever is the time to put our personal feelings aside and focus on the aims that brought us here in the first place