Reflections of a National Jamboree Chaplain

Star. Life. And Eagle.

Car. Wife. And Beagle.

One always believes life used to be simpler in the good old days. And, there is nothing more wholesome than the image of a Boy Scout helping a ‘little old lady” across the street. Squeaky clean. Straight arrow. A sacred image in childhood for the good kids and those that were “Prepared” and honored God and Country. There is nothing like a National Jamboree. It’s in a secure remote location, a private reserve in West Virginia.

I was an Eagle Scout and a so-called “good” kid. You needed 21 merit badges, I got 31. Later I would serve on the National Protestant Committee on Scouting and serve in 1981 as a National Jamboree Chaplain at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia (photo).

I attended a Boy Scout World Jamboree in Idaho in 1967, an extremely selective process and loved meeting Scouts from all over the world including the widow of Scouting’s Founder, Lady Olave Baden-Powell. Years later, we had tea together in Hampton Court Palace.

I attended national conclaves of the Order of the Arrow, a Scouting leadership society, and held the Scout Oath, Scout Law as cherished goals.

I want my comments to be positive.

I support Scouts for Equality, an organization that is working for more inclusion and diversity in the Boy Scouts of America. SFE is at the National Jamboree in a booth with the United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalists. Each day there is a Facebook Live podcast from West Virginia recapping the high points of the day.

Last night, SFE hosted an alternative meeting for Scouts who did not wish to go to the President’s speech. This alternative site was a safe place to go for those whose views are different from those of the President.

Today, SFE urged many Scouts not to leave Scouting but remain even though the comments of fellow Scouts last night made them feel unwelcome and an organization they wanted no part of. Some parents are coming to pick up their children from an event that should not have been politicized and encouraged disrespect contrary to Scout Law.

For those who were unhappy with the President’s message last night, I urge you to support Scouts for Equality. Their policy was the President should be invited to address the Jamboree, but not encourage behavior by children contrary to the Scout Law.

Scouts for Equality should be supported because they were prepared to host a safe place for Scouts and Scouters as an alternative to the President’s visit and speech.

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