Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Boy Scouts and water guns.

A few weeks ago the Boy Scouts put out a blog post clarifying their position on water guns. They say that it is only permissible to shoot water guns at targets, and not people. News sites and social media have gone crazy about it. (It's been pointed out already, but this has been their policy for several years.)

So why am I writing about this? Because for 27 of the 38 years I've been on this planet, I've been an active member of the Boy Scouts of America.  I've seen some awful comments written as a result of the recent news regarding this old policy.  Just look at the comments section of the original blog post. People have said they won't be involved in scouts and won't permit their sons to be in either.  I've seen comments calling Scouts 'sissies' and worse.

The policy on the surface does appear to be silly.  I get that.  But, it doesn't matter.  In the 27 years that I've been in scouts I can't remember a single activity that involved water guns.  None.  I've gone camping, hiking, and backpacking.  I've gone swimming, canoeing, and whitewater rafting.  I've gone caving, climbing, and repelling.  I've done archery, rifle, and shotgun shooting.  I could go on, but I won't.  There are plenty of fun and even dangerous activities to do in scouts.  Water guns are a non-issue.  They aren't part of the program.
Rock climbing at Philmont.
COPE course at Camp Powhatan.
Backpacking on the Appalachian trail.

It's easy to be an armchair critic. It's easy to sit in an air conditioned room behind a computer screen and complain about a policy that is only seen in a headline.  That's easy to do when you don't know much of anything about the organization that you're criticizing.  I'd like to see a lot of these people come out and see what Boy Scouts do.  What?  They don't know how to put up a tent?  They don't know how to start a fire?  They don't know how to cook without electricity?  They can't navigate with a map and compass?  That's OK, I know 11 & 12-year-olds that can help them with all of that.

I know that there are adults out there that can do those things even though they've never been in scouts.  And I know that there are troops that don't do a lot of camping.  Those are the units that need leaders to volunteer to provide those activities.  Instead we have people criticizing the BSA in blog comments and yanking their kids out of scouts because they aren't allowed to shoot water guns at each other.  Doing nothing is easy.  Stepping up, setting an example, and providing opportunities to young men, that's hard.  Maybe that's why more people aren't doing it. 

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