The Boy Scouts


By Jae-Ha Kim
October 5, 2013

According to the Boy Scouts of America, the organization’s mission is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”

Every year, when the Boy Scouts sold tickets for pancake breakfasts or other fundraisers, we purchased whatever they were selling. It was our way of supporting our community.

Here’s another one of our experiences with our local Boy Scout troop this past summer.  As my son — who was not yet in kindergarten — and I left our local pool, a line of rowdy Boy Scouts was queued up, waiting to get in. As we walked past them, a trio of blond Scouts made racist remarks to us. They lacked the moral compass to know that it wasn’t right to make fun of others for the way they looked, or that picking on children half their size was cruel, or that saying such things to an adult was unacceptable.

When I calmly told them that they weren’t being kind and were being poor role models for the younger Scouts in their group, they just laughed it off. And, after we had left, a friend told me she witnessed them doing the same thing to another little girl who dared to look different than them.

According to reports from other parents there that evening, that same Boy Scout troop — which was there on a Scout-sanctioned outing with supposed adult supervision — ran rampant at the pool all night, taking children’s goggles and bullying toddlers. They were so obnoxious and rude that some of the parents left early with their children, because they no longer felt safe.

This wasn’t a case of boys being boys. It was a case of Boy Scouts running wild and their adult chaperones talking amongst themselves and not doing their jobs.

I was discussing this with a friend, and another mom who we didn’t know very well asked what we were talking about. As I filled her in, I saw her eyes glaze over and I could tell she had stopped listening. She couldn’t relate to any of this, because it had never happened to her (I know this because she told me) and she couldn’t imagine what it must be like to watch a group of “role models” taunt a child for looking unlike them.

The reaction I received from the men in my neighborhood was decidedly different. One wanted to stand guard at the entrance, ID the boys and let everyone know what kind of kids they were. That was actually the mildest response.

As a non-white person living in America, I’ve experienced things like this often enough to know that it will happen again. And as upset as I was, I wanted to forget about it and just let it drop. It wasn’t so bad, I told my husband. Worse things had happened.

But he said no. It wasn’t acceptable for me to let these kids off the hook, or for them to not learn the difference between right and wrong — that if their parents and the Boy Scouts weren’t teaching them how to grow up to be caring and responsible young men, then it was society’s job to step up and show them what it meant to be a good person.

My husband’s one and only encounter with a bully was when one of his not-so-bright classmates tried to intimidate him in kindergarten. He was almost always the tallest student in his class and shoved the bully into a coat closet and left for recess. And, that was the end of that.

He dealt with the Boy Scouts organization for several months. And in the end, he got this pat answer: “We tried to find out who was involved but didn’t have any luck.” As expected, none of the boys confessed to what they had done. One boy said he saw a little of what happened, but he wouldn’t give up his troopmates. And, as far as we know, the troop wasn’t punished for failing to follow the Scout Oath of doing their best.

The troop leader basically threw his hands up in the air. “What can we do? Tsk tsk.”

Here’s what you could’ve done. When the offending Scouts failed to admit their actions, the rest of the troop should’ve been told that covering up for their friends wasn’t beneficial to anyone. And, when the pals refused to give the other boys up, the entire troop should’ve been made to apologize to the community and done community service. The boys could’ve learned a lesson that would’ve served them well — that there are repercussions to their actions; and that sometimes, the worst action is in pretending that a wrong never happened.

© 2013 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

Comments (21)

  1. Natasha N says:

    Good article Jae. I agree with your solution & I’m happy you offered one. Tsk Tsk to this local troop. Dislike button needed!

  2. Jan Owens says:

    I have to say our local troop would have dealt with that situation much differently. Oddly enough, there are several women involved with the group, and the “mom factor” kicks in and the boys are usually pretty well controlled, and very well-behaved.
    Sorry to hear that your local troop doesn’t take more responsibility for the boys.

  3. Lois Maurice says:

    This whole scenario is just sad. And it’s pathetic that the Boy Scouts of America chose to look the other way and weren’t effective leaders. These boys need role models and a swift kick in the butt. SMH.

  4. Jimin says:

  5. Tracy says:

    I wish the leaders of the scout troop would’ve done what that HS football coach in Utah did recently when he found out some of his players were bullying, suspend the whole team!

    • Richard Lee says:

      I was just going to post this link about that coach. I like what he said about why he suspended all the kids on the team: “The lack of character we are showing off the field is outshining what we are achieving on the field. We want student-athletes that are humble to learn and grow through adversity and success on and off the field.” The Boy Scouts failed to teach these boys a powerful lesson.

  6. erick vallely says:

    ive dealt with the boy scouts myself, and they are not very nice people. i would just compare them to thugs in uniform. i think some of the characteristics that they have are- violent, incompassionate, racist, intolerant, narrow minded, reactionary.

  7. Jae-Ha Kim says:

    By now, you’ve probably heard about President Trump’s speech at the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree. Do you think he behaved appropriately?

    via the Washington Post:

    For 80 years, American presidents have been speaking to the National Scout Jamboree, a gathering of tens of thousands of youngsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy.

    In keeping with the scouts’ traditions, all eight presidents and surrogates who have represented them have stayed far, far away from partisan politics.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt used the occasion to talk about good citizenship. Harry S. Truman extolled fellowship: “When you work and live together, and exchange ideas around the campfire, you get to know what the other fellow is like,” he said.

    President Dwight D. Eisenhower invoked the “bonds of common purpose and common ideals.” And President George H.W. Bush spoke of “serving others.”
    For a brief moment at this year’s jamboree in West Virgina, President Donald Trump indicated that he would follow that tradition — sort of.

    “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?” he said.

    Then, standing before all 40,000 of them, he bragged about the “record” crowd size, bashed President Barack Obama, criticized the “fake media” and trashed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. In the lengthy 35-minute speech, the president threatened to fire his Health and Human Services Secretary if he couldn’t convince members of Congress to vote for the Republican health-care bill.


  8. Stan says:

    I’m not surprised at how you and your son were treated at the pool and I’m not surprised that the Boy Scouts cheered for this inane speech. There is no integrity in being a Boy Scout anymore. I will not let my son join. I can teach him how to grow up to be a strong young man without learning how to be a racist shithead.

  9. Anthony says:

    The fact that the Boy Scouts invited Trump and gave him carte blanche to spew his rhetoric says all I need to know about the organization. It’s not what it used to be.

  10. Pat says:

    He was completely inappropriate and the Boy Scouts who hooted and hollered were little turds, too.

  11. Yoon says:

    This embarrassment of a President had to bring up his election…at a Boy Scouts rally. What the hell. What adult actually thinks this is appropriate to bring up to kids? He said: “Do you remember that famous night on television, November 8th where they said, these dishonest people, where they said, there is no path to victory for Donald Trump. They forgot about the forgotten people. By the way, they’re not forgetting about the forgotten people anymore. They’re going crazy trying to figure it out, but I told them, far too late; it’s far too late. But you remember that incredible night with the maps, and the Republicans are red and the Democrats are blue, and that map was so red it was unbelievable. And they didn’t know what to say. And you know, we have a tremendous disadvantage in the Electoral College. Popular vote is much easier. We have — because New York, California, Illinois, you have to practically run the East Coast. And we did. We won Florida. We won South Carolina. We won North Carolina. We won Pennsylvania.”

  12. Art says:

    President Obama WAS a boy scout. Trump wasn’t. President Obama didn’t attend a Jamboree in person, but he gave a beautiful speech via video. I seriously wonder about Trump’s mental faculties. To give this kind of speech in front of children.

  13. Melissa Ann says:

    The Boy Scout organization is going to hell in a hand basket. It will be interesting to see what they say in the aftermath of this. For shame.

  14. Judy says:

    I didn’t know but had a suspicion when I saw Pete Souza’s IG feed throwing shade.

    • Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

      I have absolute love for Pete Souza’s IG feed. He throws shade like a pro with class. =)

  15. TomInIll says:

    As the father of an Eagle Scout, I can honestly say that it all depends on the adult leadership. Many troops have excellent leaders and watch over their scouts. Many troops do not. However, don’t believe that this is a new phenomenon. My first troop, when I was young, was horrible. Hazing, terrorizing other troops, etc. My second troop was a great troop where the leader built comradary and respect for others.

    When it came time, I wasn’t sure that I wanted my son in Scouts. His troop turned out to be much like my second troop.the boys worked together and had a blast. Rude behavior was not tolerated by the adults, and therefore not by the older scouts either. Of course there is always the fact that you cannot get 30 boys together, in ages ranging from 11 to 18, and not get some goofy behavior, like campfires designed to be visible from the ISS, but it is completely dependent on the adults as to whether or not the troop is good.

    As for my son, he grew in confidence and learned to manage projects and other people. I do not have the same resources to teach him all that he learned through scouts without making it into a drudgery. Thanks for a great article.

  16. Kathy Hewett Tsudama says:

    He is an absolute embarrassment. To America, to the people of America, to our global allies. Anyone who still supports this unhinged idiot deserves him as their president. But those of us who see him for what he actually is do not. Has anyone else notice that Pence is NO WHERE to be seen lately?

  17. Renee Schneidewind says:

    He’s a narcissistic, egotistical and mentally disturbed person! Nothing surprises me with this president anymore😳🙀

  18. Marsha West says:

    The Trump Youth rally.

  19. Belinda Osorio Polgar says:

    He’s disgusting. The BSA Leaders should have led the kids out.

Join the Discussion

Psssst! Your E-mail address will not be published.

Name *

E-mail *