B.S.A. is a representative democracy that considers a diversity of opinions invaluable.
It seems that Free Speech is unwelcome in Boy Scouts -whatever the topic.
Even defending the stated values of Scouting can get you thrown out of B.S.A. as "Red Dog" Maynard has found out in SW Florida.
"Red Dog" Maynard, is a retired Colonel who's been active in Scouting for 34 years. His story and the larger issue - the proposed sale of Camp Flying Eagle can be found at: http://www.savecfe.org/
But BSA and its leadership (national and local) seem to be more concerned with money. Trust funds are a far more valuable asset than Camps and Scout reservations. But if you dare to speak out - or take real action in opposing BSA on this issue - you're in trouble.
You think BSA would be looking to hold onto its facilities. They've been getting challenged in court regularly over their use of public land and facilities - and losing the preferential treatment they'd been granted - back to that "discrimination issue." BSA wants things both ways - to get favorable treatment from government but preserving its status as a "private organization" that can do as it wishes. But Courts have been taking a more limiting point of view lately. So - common sense would say, "Don't count on using public facilities - hold onto the places you own."
Now Scouting is something of a "take it or leave it" thing for most people. Honestly, a lot of the volunteer leaders tolerate some of the more idyosynchratic "issues" inherent in BSA because they really don't have a viable alternative. BSA has a monoploy on Scouting - thanks to a Congressional Charter.
Still, many - myself included - found it a worthwhile part of growing up and think our kids can also benefit from the experience. Most adolescent males are pyromaniacs - Scouting teaches proper firemaking, a "controlled" outlet. I've actually used the myriad knots I learned and personally enjoy the outdoors. As I get older I prefer ending a day of hiking in a bed and breakfast or lodge somewhere but my kids still think tent camping is great.
Scouting made adolescence easier for me. My Jewish best friend from Kindergarten loved bacon cooked to charcoal. I preferred cooking a nice steak for dinner and french toast for breakfast. I learned I could hike 20 miles with a full pack - in the rain - in mud - going uphill - despite blisters. A strange sense of masochistic misery and accomplishment marked my most memorable hikes. But we went to some pretty great places and saw some things we never would've seen otherwise. Climbing Mount Marcy was a big thing for a 15 year old.
Scouting was also the only group where you could find pretty much any type of kid involved (even a few that turned out gay and a couple that - worse - turned out to be liberal lawyers). My tentmate was one of THOSE - probably even an ACLU member. BSA seems to be trying all it can to stop that from happening now though. You had jocks, smart kids, a few stoners, pretty much anyone could be involved. And most kids seemed to go through a "I don't believe in God" phase - seems to be part of growing up. The gay thing.... well some kids were "different" - no big deal. We were more offended by the heterosexual "perverts" who clearly knew NOTHING about sex but wanted to talk about it all the time. Seriously, you weren't going to learn anything about sex in our Troop and if our Scoutmaster heard you discussing the topic, you got fined - same as if you cursed. "Not appropriate."
NO other group in High School and Junior High was as inclusive. It was kind of like a far more benign Marine Corps - we were all "green" - this was before the changeover to tan uniforms (you think someone with a sense of history might have raised a red flag there - National Jamboree this year was was like a poorly run Nuremberg Rally.... Cindy Sheehan wasn't the only person Bush kept waiting in the heat last summer). BSA hasn't run all the non-republican non-conservatives out yet - at least not in NY.
We did kick-ass hikes, covered a good part of the Appalachian Trail and learned a pretty good dose of self-reliance. Never did know why our Scoutmaster did it - never thanked him properly either. But that's the ignorance of a kid - you learn as you grow up. Most of us found out we could do more than we ever thought we could.
But Scouting HAS changed. It has lost its focus on service to youth and lost its tolerance for any form of "disagreement."
Mr. Maynard is one of those "local legends" in Scouting - one of those at the core of the program in his community. Something of a character I suppose - most of these guys are - but full of stories and a memory filled with Scouting. He's one of those people that really make Scouting worthwhile for kids. He's dedicated to serving youth and has spent decades devoted to Scouting. You think BSA would view such a person as a priceless resource and reward him for his dedication. Nope..... BSA isn't particularly "Loyal" to its volunteers.
Mr. Maynard had the audacity to take action when his Council leadership tried to get Camp property re-zoned - to allow it to be sold. Seeing that a WHOLE lot of people are opposed to this sale, you think this would be one of those times when that "representative democracy" thing would kick in. Nope..... And forget "diverse opinions."
Mr. Maynard was rightfully upset with BSA breaking its word and had the gall to use the court system to fight back. He wanted this property preserved - it was a rarity in an area seeing explosive growth, an asset worth preserving. Now seeing as this property was deeded to BSA with the understanding that it would be preserved for the use of Scouts, this seems like an honorable and noble stance.
Frankly, BSA should be ashamed to even be thinking about selling this land under the circumstances. But $$ takes precedence to pretty much anything else in BSA now. BSA Inc is being run by businessmen - not Scouts (but frankly they're doing a horrid job - finances and membership have been tanking..... but none of the overpaid executives running things ever get fired - that's another story).
"Red Dog" been thrown out of Scouting - not for being gay or an athiest, not for being a threat to boys or committing some illegal or immoral act. He's been thrown out of Boy Scouts for being a Scout.
He was "Brave" and spoke out for what he believed in despite the risk of puishment or ridicule.
How ironic that BSA is the one punishing him - but they don't like their own hypocrisy pointed out.
This link provides an overview of media coverage thus far:
Reprinted the following articles from the Bradenton Herald:
(Originally published on March 25, 2006)
Scouts seek camp master's resignation
Herald Staff Writer
B.J. Maynard, a camp master known to hundreds of Boy Scouts as "Red Dog," may have helped young people earn merit badges for the last time in a dispute over the fiture of Camp Flying Eagle.
On Friday morning, Maynard, 75, received a phone call that may have ended his long relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. Scout executives at the Southwest Florida Council in Fort Myers asked for his resignation, citing a conflict of interest with him.
Maynard said he was told that his actions cost the council money in litigation fees and caused embarrassment to professional scouts.
"Scouting is a passion with me," Maynard said. "This has torn me up."
Gary Hampton, the council's executive director, acknowledged that Maynard was asked to resign for a conflict of interest...........
Conflict of interest?!?! He's doing what his Council Leadership should be doing. He's holding BSA to their own stated values.
On Tuesday, Maynard addressed county commissioners as the president of the development association, an organization that filed suit against the Southwest Florida Council in September to prevent the Boy Scouts from selling the camp to developers.
The Boys Development Association, Maynard said, handled ownership of the camp over to the Boy Scouts in 1991, after allowing them to use the property since 1929.
"In 1991, the camp was an outright gift to the Boy Scouts," Maynard said. "Legally they transferred the property but morally they were gifting the property to the youth of Manatee County."...............
Maynard told the commissioners that Camp Flying Eagle is one of the community's amenities and should be protected from future development...............
"I don't feel like the Boy Scouts are kicking me out; they love me," Maynard said. "I fully expected it knowing the character of our scout executives. Gary Hampton has a history of dismissing people that disagree with him."
Carlos Mendez, scoutmaster of Troop 8 for the past three years, could not believe the news. Mendez said the move was an unfair act of vengeance.
"It gets me very angry that (Southwest Florida Council of Boy Scouts) would sabotage scouting in this county," Mendex said. "They're always crying for more volunteers, and Red Dog is pivotal for scouting in our county. The boys love him."
Mr. Maynard still believes in "Boy Scouts" - he doesn't see that his local Scout Executive is a direct reflection of the model set by the uppermost levels of BSA. They don't care about boys or Scouting anymore. BSA has its own Nomenklatura running things - benefitting personally from a "noble cause." They hide behind "ideals" - Character and values, country and God in this case. But it's all rhetoric. They don't really believe. It's all a way to fund a very comfortable career. It is all about money.
How many true believers in Communism went marching off into the Gulag thinking "It was all a mistake that if Stalin knew, he's make things right?" when it was always about money and power for a select few.
This is the type of thing that sparks revolts and revolutions. SW Florida's membership is pretty po'd right now.
You've already had a whole Council revolt in Chicago over the sale of one of BSA's oldest camps. They voted their leadership out - a near impossibility under the Stalininst rules of Democracy imposed by BSA on Councils. But their leadership refuses to leave. The battle continues in court but it seems that the volunteers have won the Zoning battle there. Owasippe looks like it may be around fo a while - despite BSA's best efforts to get rid of it.
I hope the revolt spreads..... BSA needs a coup d'etat. Scouts need to take back control of BSA......
And Penn and Teller got it wrong..... the religious right has a disproportionate amount of influence, yes , but that's only because the paid guys running things are desperate to keep membership from tanking even more.... BSA is really a corporate scandal with overpaid executives presiding over a failing organization looting it for all its worth. They're using the support of religious conservatives to provide a core base of support and make things look better than they are - and to provide some "moral" cover for some pretty unethical behavior.
Sound familiar? Co-opt a basically good organization, use it for your own purposes, loot away, hide behind rhetoric about character and values - and blame gays and the ACLU whenever you're caught doing something "questionable." I think the current Administration really IS a bunch of Boy Scouts.....
Again, I concede that this is a topic of limited interest but DK does provide an increased level of visibility. "Red Dog" could use the visibility.