May 31, 2005

Memorial Day camping, part i.

Sometimes, when I tell someone I meet in an academic setting that I am a registered Assistant Scoutmaster in the troop that I belonged to as a youngin, they get confused. You know, we "bookish" people are supposed to be liberal and are supposed to shun organizations like the Boy Scouts of America who exclude people. It is concluded that I must be homophobic to still associate with the BSA, given the nation-wide ban on homosexual leaders. Well, dear readers, you already know that the opposite is true of me, so I won't try to convince you that homophobic describes me as well as shell-fish does. True, the BSA can be a little...backward sometimes. But while a Scout's three duties are to God, country and other people, one can earn the coveted religious medal in a number of religions that do not require belief in God per se these days, and one can find Scout leaders who are atheists, agnostics or whacko Transcendentalists (ding ding ding). While I do find the BSA's position that homosexuals are "morally unclean" and therefore bad role models for young boys (who, I suppose, haven't chosen their sexual orientation yet, right?) to be one of the largest dumps of bullshit I've ever heard, I still choose to remain connected with the organization. As anyone involved in Scouting would tell you, the whole movement is only as good as its individual local troops. More specifically, one's Scouting experience is determined entirely by one's troop. I supposed my own troop has an unspoken code about the homosexual ban that is similar to the one adopted a few years ago by the Boston area council. Scouting leaders have no damned business talking about their sex lives with young boys, whether such adventures be with women, men or kangaroos. That's that. It's not just "dont' ask, don't tell." It's "what difference does it make?" I would never talk to 11-17 year old youngins about my own sexual conquests, even though the BSA would seem to think that's cool, since I'm married to a woman. That's just inappropriate. I could get some people into trouble, but I know of a troop with a very excellent Scoutmaster who was lucky enough to have a man in his early 30s offer his help as an adult leader. Some church members phoned this Scoutmaster and swore that that this fella was gay and that it's weird for him to not be married or otherwise attached to a woman at his age, etc. The Scoutmaster in question said he didn't "give a shit" and that the man was great with the kids; they loved him; he got them to want to learn; and go to hell, nosey people. This is more or less the spirit in my own troop. Our troop never defined itself or the Scouts by who we excluded, but by whom and what we embraced. This is why I am still involved in Scouting and in my old troop. More than the schools I've gone too, my experience in Scouting has made me what I am today and has made me think the way I think. Are we a liberal troop? Hell no. There are only two Assistant Scoutmasters who have never served in the military, and I'm the only one who would identify himself as a "liberal." We have a retired Air Force transportation manager, a retired Army Property Book officer and Vietnam veteran, a carpenter and a PhD student in philosophy. We're a good mix. But you're probably tired of reading now, so I'll tell you what's so awesome about my troop and how it manifested itself greatly this past weekend in the next post.

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