Monthly Archives: July 2010

Well that’s what he says. The real story is a lot different.

As for today, well . . .

“FORT A.P. HILL, Va. — Her crown glinting in the morning sun, Miss America was telling 45,000 Boy Scouts and their leaders the other day how thrilled she was to be here at the National Scout Jamboree, to be among “the most amazing young women …”
Whoops! The scouts, ever courteous and kind, could nonetheless barely stifle a collective groan. Some covered their faces in embarrassment. Miss America — Caressa Cameron, the former Miss Virginia — quickly recovered, apologized and explained that she usually speaks to groups of young women.
The slip was an inadvertent reminder of a host of issues, including whether to admit girls, that the Boy Scouts of America faces this year as it celebrates its 100th anniversary.
The organization, long an icon of wholesomeness in a simpler America, has seen its membership plunge by 42 percent since its peak year of 1973, when there were 4.8 million scouts. In the last decade alone, membership has dropped by more than 16 percent, to 2.8 million.
The declines reflect the difficulties of keeping up with changing times and shifting demographics, as well as of battling a perception that the organization is exclusionary because it bars gay people and atheists, not to mention girls under 13.
An even bigger challenge emerged this year as a jury ordered the Scouts to pay $18.5 million in damages to a man who had been abused by a scout leader as a boy. The trial focused renewed attention on the secret files that the Scouts’ national office in Texas has kept for more than 70 years of claims of sexual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers.”

Ahem!

“Jurors in Portland, Oregon, awarded a former Boy Scout $1.4 million after finding Tuesday that the organization was negligent in allowing a Scout leader who was a sex offender to have contact with him.
The three-week trial ended with Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge John A. Wittmayer polling the jurors, who confirmed they had found the negligence contributed to damage to the plaintiff as claimed.
The jury ruled that the plaintiff is also entitled to punitive damages. That’s to be determined beginning Tuesday in the trial’s second phase.
How the Scouts handled the case of the former Scout leader, Timur Dykes, was at the center of the explosive lawsuit.
Attorney Kelly Clark, who has been representing six men suing the Scouts, would not discuss the case until after the punitive phase. Before the trial, he alleged that when his clients were boys during the 1980s, the organization knew that at least one of them had been abused by Dykes.
He also alleged that though Dykes was removed as a Scout leader, he was allowed to stay on as a volunteer and the abuse continued. CNN was not able to reach Dykes.
Clark produced documents that he said were part of an archive of previously secret Boy Scout files that chronicled decades of abuse of boys.
The Scouts’ lawyers said the organization had not known about Dykes’ record nor had it known about an outstanding warrant at the time.
Once the Scouts did learn about it, the organization acted immediately and cooperated with police, the Scouts’ lawyers said.
A Boy Scouts spokesman has acknowledged the organization does have confidential files, but said they are made confidential in order to protect people who are ineligible to be Scout leaders but who may not have done anything illegal.
A Scouts spokesman said that, in recent years, the organization has taken extensive measures to keep abusers out.
In a written statement, the Scouts said the organization intends to appeal.
“We are gravely disappointed with the verdict,” it said. “We believe that the allegations made against our youth protection efforts are not valid.”
It added, “We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America.
“The safety of the young people currently in the Scouting program has never been in question during these legal proceedings. The case focused on a discussion about what society and the BSA knew about child abuse approximately three decades ago.
“This is a long-standing societal issue that every youth-serving organization must address Based on the standard of care of that time, the BSA believes it acted responsibly and that the evidence presented during the trial does not justify the verdict.”
Once the Scouts did learn about it, the organization acted immediately and cooperated with police, the Scouts’ lawyers said.
A Boy Scouts spokesman has acknowledged the organization does have confidential files, but said they are made confidential in order to protect people who are ineligible to be Scout leaders but who may not have done anything illegal.
A Scouts spokesman said that, in recent years, the organization has taken extensive measures to keep abusers out.
In a written statement, the Scouts said the organization intends to appeal.
“We are gravely disappointed with the verdict,” it said. “We believe that the allegations made against our youth protection efforts are not valid.”
It added, “We are saddened by what happened to the plaintiff. The actions of the man who committed these crimes do not represent the values and ideals of the Boy Scouts of America.
“The safety of the young people currently in the Scouting program has never been in question during these legal proceedings. The case focused on a discussion about what society and the BSA knew about child abuse approximately three decades ago.
“This is a long-standing societal issue that every youth-serving organization must address. Based on the standard of care of that time, the BSA believes it acted responsibly and that the evidence presented during the trial does not justify the verdict.”

You wish, Mormon trash!

“Now, as the organization tries to rebuild its image and its membership, it has been forced to make a priority of addressing that problem, with a plan that it calls “youth protection.”
Under Robert Mazzuca, who took the helm of the Scouts three years ago as chief executive, the group has taken several steps to try to reassure parents that their children are safe. These include hiring a full-time youth protection director, Michael Johnson, a former police detective who is an expert on child abuse investigation and prevention. “

Nothing beats a good male Role Model.

“Mr. Mazzuca said in an interview that scouting remained grounded in the core values of the Boy Scout Law (trustworthy, loyal, helpful) but that the organization needed better ways to communicate its relevance.”

Cause there’s no excuse for getting’ dry-gulched

“We have allowed ourselves to be defined by others for a long period of time, and it’s time for us to be in charge of our own definition,” he said.
“Anything 100 years old has earned the right to a little arthritis,” he said, but added that this organization had become “stodgy and bureaucratic.”
“We need to be more nimble,” he said. “Scouts still have a wonderful story to tell.”
The jamboree here is a testament to the many ways in which the Scouts have adapted. Spread across hundreds of acres of this dusty military base, the scout encampment still offers boys the chance to partake in the activities that their fathers and grandfathers enjoyed — fly-fishing, reading a compass, rustling up a meal. Many boys devote hours to the low-tech pursuit of swapping scout patches with the same fervor of Wall Street traders.

“But this is not your father’s jamboree. Among the sprawling areas here is a technology center with robotics and a tent where boys can have their mouths swiped to take a sample of their DNA. Some boys sport lime-green hair to match the T-shirts of their non-dress uniforms, and most wear loose-fitting knee-length shorts, some surfer-dude cool with bright swirls.”

A welcome change for THIS.

scouts

Hey, why not Go Galliano?

“Scouts also wear “smart bracelets” that allow them to go cashless as they buy soda and memorabilia. An inflatable mosque provides a place for Muslim scouts to worship.”

Does Newt Gingrich know about this?

“There are stations where scouts can recharge their cellphones as well as those offering free calls and time online. Despite these innovations, there has been less advancement on other fronts. The tens of thousands of scouts here were largely a homogenous group of white boys. A Scout study from a few years ago on “tapping into diverse markets” said that parents of African-Americans, Hispanics and Asians had “no emotional connection to scouting.” A documentary to be broadcast in August on PBS explores this concept as it follows black and Hispanic scouts from Harlem.
Mr. Mazzuca is trying to change that, with the Scouts making a major push among Hispanics, the largest-growing ethnic group in the country. “We used to just translate our material into Spanish words,” he said, “not linking them to things that are meaningful to Hispanics.” He said that focus groups showed that Hispanics viewed the Boy Scouts as “elite and unattainable.” And in setting up pilot programs, he said, he had to overcome concern that some potential scouts might be from illegal immigrant families.”

Does Jan Brewer know about this?

In a pilot program in Fresno, Calif., Mr. Mazzuca said, the Scouts had doubled their Hispanic membership in nine weeks, though it is not clear yet how many will stay.
But the demographic group that seems to have drawn the most attention is young girls. When they turn 13 and have completed eighth grade, they can join the Boy Scouts’ Venturing program, where many of the leaders are women. But many are pushing for access for preteen girls.
Katrell Cooper, a 16-year-old venturer from Utah, who works at the BMX center here, turned up her nose at the Girl Scouts.
“I don’t want to sit around and make quilts and sell cookies,” she said after she expertly glided down a mountain-boarding course on which a few boys had tumbled. “I want to do stuff.”

Girls just wanna have fun.

The debate rages on scout Web sites over the perceived advantages and disadvantages of allowing younger girls. Would they be too much of a distraction? Or would their presence better prepare boys for the real world?
Several 15-year-old boys here said they would welcome girls into the Boy Scouts. “It would be more cool with them,” said Shane West from Jupiter, Fla. Why? “They’re girls.”
Rocky Spiker, from Utah, said girls would “keep us in line.” Ben Rosenbaum, also from Utah, said, “Women deserve the same stuff as men do.”

And vice versa.

“The boys were practicing at a shooting range, where their instructor, Kelli Walters, 18, from Pennsylvania, who is certified by the National Rifle Association and is part of the Venturing program, had longed to join the Boy Scouts, a family tradition. She was bored with Girl Scouts.”

I’m sure we all know the type.

“Mr. Mazzuca said he wanted the Scouts to stay true to the organization’s roots of helping boys, especially at younger ages, to become good men, but he was open to discussions.
For now, he is focused on the jamboree, which holds its centennial celebration Saturday. The anniversary will be marked across the country, including in Times Square, where a display will offer canoe rides in an artificial river on Broadway.
Then for the Scouts, it will be back to finding a way out of the woods.”

Unless those woods are The Ramble.

Sing us out Tom!