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Glenn K. Currie: The last Boy Scouts

  • Boy Scouts wash up at the Valley Forge Jamboree in Pennsylvania on July 23, 1964. AP file



For the Monitor
Thursday, May 17, 2018

I have been watching the slow but steady demise of the Boy Scouts of America and as an Eagle Scout of this former organization, I have decided to write a sad goodbye to an institution that played a major role in helping me grow up.

The new organization, the Scouts of America, no longer caters exclusively to boys and their change of approach marks the last of the major organizations that worked strictly with boys and young teens in their formative years. (Yes, I am aware that Explorers and Sea Scouts have been coed for years but they cater to an older group of Scouts).

There are many coed organizations that provide wonderful services to children and teens, and I commend them on the great work that they do. And there are many organizations that still work strictly with girls and young women. But I think we are leaving many young boys to fend for themselves in the difficult task of learning how to be functioning young men in our society. What they learn on the streets or filtered through a coed screen, will not necessarily completely serve them in adult life.

The Boy Scouts was a life-changing organization for me. They provided me and many others with scholarships to attend a camp where we learned about teamwork, living in the outdoors, swimming, life saving and many other skills. I learned from counselors and cabin mates, and was able to talk frankly with others about the very confusing aspects of the transition to adulthood.

I am saddened to see that the Boy Scouts of America no longer exists. Generations of young men grew up learning about the need to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind and many other positive traits. New generations will be taught other things by a nation that seems to no longer value these qualities. For years Hollywood has been denigrating what it means to be caring and honest, using the term “boy scout” to tag someone as clueless and impotent. Well, it has finally taken hold. We have trashed them out of existence.

Even though I am sure the new coed organization will do its best to help develop good citizens, its role will be very different. The pendulum has swung in recent years to dismissing men’s and boy’s organizations as unnecessary to our culture. Somehow young men are expected to have all the answers just by the act of growing up. Fortunately, girls and young women still have numerous organizations to help them travel the rocky road to adulthood. I sincerely hope the trend doesn’t continue to the point that the many of these organizations also disappear. Adolescents of both sexes often need time and space to figure things out.

We need to pay attention to the special needs of boys who are facing a very confusing period as to their role in society. Losing the Boy Scouts as an organization has added a significant gap in the opportunities for this development. Learning on the street and from video games or Hollywood films will not serve our young men or our society well.

I am including a poem from my book In the Cat’s Eye (Snap Screen Press 2009) called Boy Scout Camp as a short reminiscence of what will be missed. I finish with a thank you to BSA for all you did for me. May you rest in peace.

Boy Scout Camp

Rain pounded

The cabin roof.

Drum beats on snares

That Shrouded

Rabbits trapped.

It was scary at first,

Then soothing,

As we fell asleep

To natural rhythms.

.

It was us

Against the world.

Capture the flag,

Or clean latrines.

Learn nature’s secrets

Or bleed in its barbed wire.

We played games of life

In pastures

Where children grew.

.

We lay on battlefields

Of crushed grass,

Reading secret messages

Sent to us by a million stars.

And we found our way

Through dark forests,

To the sanctuary

Of friendly campfires.

.

In the end

We learned about life.

Trappers

Taught us

To survive the snares.

And to see

The world

Outside

The rabbit hole.

(Glenn K. Currie lives in Concord.)