Ferguson or Scouting?

photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

photo courtesy of nbcnews.com

I believe it was Will Rogers that said, “The only problem with the Boy Scouts…There’s not enough of them.”  Most of us in the Scouting community know this quote and have seen it around for some years now.  I think it is true.
In our never ending quest to gain members in Scouting a recurring theme continues to haunt those of us that care very much about Scouting and are not afraid to promote it.  The theme of being relevant in our time.  Of course Scouting is relevant in our time.  Those that argue against Scoutings relevance obviously have not watched the evening news, read a local newspaper, spent 10 minutes on Facebook, stood in a mall.  Look around, the world needs Scouting.
No matter what your religious beliefs are, no matter your ethnic background, no matter what side of the political spectrum you fall… Scouting is relevant.
Our values in Scouting are a key message missing in the world today.  Over the last couple of days we have been bombarded by the news of Ferguson, MO.  I will not get into the particulars of the court case or the actions that led us to this embarrassment of humanity.  I think we all can agree that had this young man been a Scout, we would not be hearing about Ferguson, MO.  Heck, no one knew it was a dot on the map until recently.
The thugs that are now looting and destroying the town of Ferguson.  Do you think they would do so had they knew the Scout Oath and Law and lived them.
Do you think the Parents of those people, that cared enough to take their sons to Scouts would allow this to happen.  Do you think that the young men that were required to understand what citizenship in their community meant, visit a public official, sit in a town hall meeting or session of court… do you think they would understand this process a bit better and would participate as a citizen, not a thug.  Scouting relevant?  Wake up.
In the last week, the week leading up to our special day of Thanksgiving, we have seen the worst in people.  What will they be celebrating on Thursday?  That they stole a new TV, broke windows, and destroyed their homes?  Is that something to be thankful for?  On the other hand, what if they had been Scouts?  What if they bowed their head on Thursday and gave thanks to their parents for loving them and caring about how they grew up?  What if they gave thanks for the hard work that is realized in this bounty on the table?  What if they looked across the table and said thank you for life and all of its blessings?
You live in a dream world Jerry… Yep.
But you know, on Monday night at our Troop meeting as I gave my Scoutmaster minute, I gave thanks.  Thanks to the parents in the back of the room that care enough to bring their sons.  Thanks to the young men that sat and listened to me, that they are growing life skills and living the Scout Oath and Law.  I will not see these men on the news burning a car and stealing from a store.  I don’t have to worry about them bringing a gun to school and shooting their classmates.  I don’t have to lose sleep at night wondering if they are going to end up in jail.
Scouting relevant.  You are absolutely right it is relevant.  As uncool as it may seem Scouting is relevant.
In 1907 when Baden Powell started Scouting, one of his goals was to establish a world wide program for boys that would promote peace.  Powell had served in the Boar wars and had seen enough of the worst in people.  He knew that if.. IF.. men could embrace a common set of values that we could have peace.  This dream has not been realized, not because of Scouting, but because there are not enough Scouts.  If our politicians had these values, if our community leaders had these values, they would be compelled to think about their decisions in the light of them.  They would let their values guide their actions instead of greed and self interest.  They would be leaders that have the heart of a servant, not a despot seeking control and fame.  The dream of Baden Powell can be found in over 200 countries in Scouts and their leaders.  But their are not enough.  Scouting is relevant.
Will Rogers said it best when he said that now famous quote,   I know you all agree.
The BSA should capitalize on this moment in time.  Show the people of America that we have a choice to make..

Ferguson or Scouting?

Have a Great Scouting Day!


  1. This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for McFarlane Duncan, the BSA district executive in the St Louis area who has been trying to reestablish a scout troop in Ferguson, MO — a challenge that most of us can not even begin to imagine.

    I’m grateful to Troop 772 in Fort Pierce, FL which faces similar challenges but has offered to help McFarlane and other scout leaders in Missouri to get a Ferguson troop back up and running. 772 leaders traveled from Florida to last month to meet and talk about the possibilities with scouters in St. Louis. A news article about Troop 772’s efforts is below.

    In addition to counting my blessings this week, I’m also trying to keep the Scout Law in mind, especially the Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind part, and the way that Troop 772 is walking the talk.

    So the question isn’t Ferguson or Scouting. It’s Ferguson PLUS Scouting — and of course much much more. Scouting alone can’t begin to address all of the economic and social hurdles that folks in Ferguson face. But it’s a small start.

    I spoke with McFarlane today to try to spitball some ideas about how other units across the US could pitch in and help in Ferguson. I’ll try to get back to this blog with some ideas once I get a better picture of what might be helpful.

    Here’s the article, excerpted:

    From: Stuart News/Port St. Lucie News (Stuart, Florida)
    September 26, 2014 Friday

    The Boy Scouts organization has had problems establishing troops in such settings. A former Scout troop for Ferguson’s disadvantaged disbanded.

    Through word-of-mouth with the Boy Scouts of America, a Scout executive in the Ferguson region heard about Fort Pierce Troop 772’s success in establishing a troop in a low-income, crime-ridden area and keeping it intact through community involvement, volunteers and donations. The Boy Scouts of America has recognized Troop 772 as a model for how to establish troops in urban areas.

    McFarlane Duncan, a Scout district executive with the Boy Scouts of America’s Greater St. Louis Council, contacted troop leaders in Fort Pierce.

    “We face the same issues,” Duncan said.

    He said he wants to give youths from troubled neighborhoods in Ferguson a chance to be involved in organized activities and field trips, all under adult supervision.

    It’s a similar motive to what Fort Pierce leaders had in mind when Troop 772 started last December.
    Back then, the adults wanted to steer middle school boys away from the enticement of gangs and violence in a rough area and offer them opportunities. Many of the boys had behavioral problems and struggled academically in school.

    “My goal is to find a creative way of introducing the program in the black urban communities,” Duncan said.

    Fort Pierce philanthropist and businessman Scott Van Duzer, who founded Troop 772, said the message he will spread in Missouri is what was key to Troop 772’s unique success: its use of community volunteers to fill a leadership void.

    Normally, Scout troops are run by parents, but in the northwest Fort Pierce area parents didn’t have the time or money to help out.

    So St. Lucie County firefighter William “Rusty” Hines, of Port St. Lucie, became the Scoutmaster, along with others whose children are not in the troop.

    “It is not rocket science,” Van Duzer said. “It is a form of mentoring.”

    You just have to find the right volunteers, while reaching out to the community for financial support or use of facilities, he said.

    In Fort Pierce, the St. Lucie County School District allowed the troop to meet at Dan McCarty Middle School during the spring semester and provided bus transportation. Now the troop meets in donated space at a police substation on Avenue D. About 17 Scouts have remained active in the group.

    On Wednesday, those Scouts received more than 40 badges including Citizenship in the Nation. Work on that badge included a trip to Washington, D.C., where the Scouts were in the Congressional visitors gallery as Rep. Patrick Murphy, who represents St. Lucie County, spoke on the floor about them.

    Keeping the troop alive also requires strong commitment, said Van Duzer. Adult leaders devote many hours a week to running the troop. [end of excerpt]


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