Yesterday was our annual Scouting for Food drive. Scouts from all over our Council hit the neighborhoods with enthusiasm and the knowledge that for two hours of service they will help feed many people in our community that are in need.
Now, we won’t debate here why they are in need, the organizations that profit from their need at times, or social injustice.. we are talking about Scouts doing a good turn.
Our Troop not only collects food from our neighbors, but also work the better part of the day at the St. Vincent dePaul Food Pantry collecting, sorting, and boxing food to be distributed over the course of the next few weeks.
As Packs, Troops, and Crews collect the food items, they bring it to the Church to be weighed, sorted, and given. So over the morning I get an opportunity to talk with Scouts and Scouters and thank them for what they are doing to make our community just a tad bit better.
A group of Scouts came in and started unloading their pick up trucks full of food. The Scoutmaster of the Troop and I exchanged greetings and he remarked about how rude some people are.. kind of blowing off the comment I said, yeah you see that everywhere now a days.. he said no.. today when they were collecting food in their neighborhood a lot of people went out of their way to be rude when a simple, no thank you or sorry we are not donating would do.
He even went on to say that many of his Scouts were yelled at for “Begging” for food. A real sad story.
I let that soak in a bit and then let it go.
An hour later, a group of Scouts and I were standing outside waiting for more units to bring in food items. A man walking by stopped and crossed the street. I smiled and said hello. He asked what we were doing. I told him today is our annual Scouting for Food campaign and we were collecting food for the pantry. He asked why the Scouts were doing it. I replied that this is a good opportunity for the Scouts to do their good deed for the day and also a way of giving back to our community. It was then that the discussion went South and in a hurry. The man said that “these boys should not be our here begging for food”.. I thought back to the conversation I had with my friend the Scoutmaster. I wonder if this is the same guy?
I smiled and assured him that we were not begging.. just simply helping collect food for the St. Vincent dePaul pantry.
He seemed to be getting very upset. I asked him if there was something I could do for him, offered him a cup of coffee and a place to get out of the cold. He did not want any coffee and asked again why were out here. I again explained the Scouting for Food campaign and thought we were through.. and then he said it.. “It is a shame what you are doing to these boys” Excuse me I asked. “Brainwashing them into a bunch of robots” What? Are you familiar with Scouting I asked? He said sure.. I know all about how you are grooming these young kids to go into the military. I said to him that while I know of Scouts that do enter the military, Scouting is not a military organization nor does it “Feed” the military with new recruits. “Then why the uniforms, badges, and saluting?”
Scouting is like a team I tried to explain, we wear a uniform just like a sports team wears a uniform, it gives us a sense of team and pride in belonging together. It is a great equalizer, we are all the same, no matter where we come from, what economic status, religion, or race. We are all just Scouts. The badges and saluting, well, they are to show achievement, teaching the Scouts that when you work hard you get rewarded. So far as saluting, we only Salute our Country’s flag. That is just our way of showing respect to the country that we live in.
He kept on.. well you are a “Ultra Right wing radical group”.. At that I had to laugh. I told him that I was not exactly sure what he meant by that.. he said we were all radicals and want war. At that it was time to have a little fun.
Sir, you don’t know a lot about Scouting do you? I know plenty he said.. You said we all want war.. I suppose you are right.. we wage war against poverty, we want to kill hunger, we want to remove intolerance, we fight against our Scouts using drugs and battle against lack of character. In 1918 after World War 1, Baden Powell moved Scouting’s goal to be a movement for peace… and that is what it has been for over 100 years. Scouts from all over the world fight for peace in their own way every day.
Do we seem to be very conservative, sure.. it can be said that we have conservative values, you know all those terrible things like being loyal and friendly, Trustworthy and kind, Brave and clean, Helpful and Courteous. We value hard work and earning our way in the world. We teach our Scouts how to be people with Character, good Citizens, and young people that are fit.
No Sir, we do not brainwash or indoctrinate our youngsters into the military or force them to vote republican when they grow up. We teach them to be good people that are self reliant, we do not want them to be a burden, rather people that take away the burden of their neighbor.
And that is why we are here today.. to help our community and those that are in need.
He made some weird sound, snorted, and turned to walk away. I had to get one last shot in. I said to him that I hope he has a better view of Scouts and Scouting now and that he is always welcome to come pay us a visit. I said “Sir, we are just trying to do our part to make things better”. He smiled and walked away.
Maybe Scouting for food was different this year. Giving was down and the mood was strange, it has been a long weird year. I hope that my exchange with that man yesterday was helpful. He was Scouting for Food.. the food that is knowledge. I am sure he was looking for an argument, but found Scouting and a group of young men that showed him at our finest. He found Scouts and a Scouter that have passion for what our organization does and believes.
After Scouting for Food, we went to a Cross over Ceremony for Webelos Scouts moving to Boy Scout Troops. Our Troop received one of the four that crossed. As I watched our ceremonies team tell the story of the Scout Oath and Law and the trail that these new young men were stepping off on.. I reflected on my conversation of that morning. Smiled and knew that we did well today.
Have a Great Scouting Day!