Last week’s appearance by President Trump at the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree and his trademark non-scripted remarks caused Scouting’s boo-birds to come out in full strength on social media. You could find on Twitter and Facebook countless souls using his remarks to paint the Jamboree as a “Hitler Youth Rally.”
Never mind that Presidents have long been invited to speak at Jamborees and Trump is known to meander off message, no matter the audience or guidelines before him. The biggest naysayers chose to ignore that because they already had a vendetta against the organization, one that saw them over the past few years paint the BSA as being too traditional in their ways or not being inclusive enough.
It’s a topsy-turvy world when you see how many people would love Scouting to go the way of the dinosaur. I really can’t understand how some people could feel threatened by a youth organization that transforms boys into excellent husbands, fathers, citizens, and leaders. God knows this world needs more men to be better at those responsibilities.
The Scouting program is an excellent supplement to good parenting and good schooling and when either of those is lacking, Scouting fills the void and becomes something greater.
It gives boys the male guidance that might be missing from a broken home, it develops the confidence they need to overcome their perceived weaknesses and fears, and it shows them the paths of careers and service they may not have been exposed to in the home or classroom.
That’s a pretty spectacular impact.
What if the naysayers’ wishes came true?
What if there never was a Boy Scouts of America as we know it?
Here’s how our world might be different:
There might not have been artificial hearts: Doctor William DeVries was instrumental in developing artificial hearts and it was with his skilled surgical hands that the new technology was first tested on animals and then put into a human. He paved the way for saved lives and longer lives. It just so happens DeVries is an Eagle Scout. Scouting gave him the drive needed to work through high school to help his mother and grandmother raise his sixteen siblings and then tackle some of the most rigorous medical theories in universities.
Hank Aaron might not have broken Babe Ruth’s record: Hank Aaron’s assault on the most sacred of sports records – the all-time home run record – would never have happened were a weaker man (physically or mentally) in his baseball cleats. Aaron received thousands of racist, hateful letters as he approached Babe Ruth’s total, and many of them were death threats against him and his family. He weathered that incredible stress and disgusting hatred by rising above it thanks to the life lessons and confidence he gleaned from being a Boy Scout.
There might not have been an Indiana Jones, Jaws or ET: Some of the most iconic films of all time were developed by Steven Spielberg who was an Eagle Scout. He likely would have gone on to an entirely different career path without the BSA’s impact. In a 2010 interview with Scouting magazine he said: “When I went for a Photography merit badge, I made a little 8mm movie. And the Boy Scouts in my troop liked the movie, made a lot of noise, laughed, clapped, and all that. I got that great virus of ‘I’ve got to do this the rest of my life.’”
There might not be a Wal-Mart: Sam Walton founded the world’s largest and most impactful department store chain in 1962 after years in sales and retail. His loyalty to the customer, emphasis on thrift and value, focus on sound business practices and tireless work ethic allowed the business to grow dramatically and he became one of America’s great entrepreneurial stories of the twentieth century. Those life skills and business traits were ideologies honed in the Boy Scout program. Walton was a Life Scout – almost an Eagle.
There might not be a Microsoft: Another Life Scout, Bill Gates, become a multi-billionaire by founding Microsoft, a company that is part of our everyday lives, one that has made work and computation so easy. He then devoted his earnings and life to philanthropy through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which impacts millions of lives the world over. That attention to community service was developed in his Boy Scout career, as was his interest in computing. One of his former scout leaders liked to recount the tale of one event where all the boys focused on outdoor skills while Bill gave a presentation on computers which were only in their embryonic stage at that time.
Other scouts you might be familiar with are Eagles like Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford, Ross Perot, Mike Rowe, and William Sessions.
That’s an impeccable list of men who accomplished much…men who changed the world because they were changed by Scouting.
It’s pretty tough to imagine where we would be without Boy Scouts.
From the 31 July 2017 Greater Niagara Newspapers