The Failed Mission of the Boy Scouts of America

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America 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 Law.

The denigration of Eagle Scout

No where in the mission is Eagle Scout.  No where in the mission is project management.  But those are the two pinnacles that all of the Boy Scouts of America is predicated on.

My family has worked in and with the Boy Scouts of America for more than 50 years.  Over time, the BSA moved from ethical and moral leadership toward status and symbols of achievement rather than actual achievement.

Eagle Scout projects can include planting 5 flowers in a bed and removing weeds.

That is “service to community” which is the objective of the Eagle Scout project.

It’s also a less than worthy effort, one that is “easy to do” and today, when Scouts come to committees talking about their Eagle Scout projects, every single Scout is advised to “have a back up” and “pick something easy.”

If the mission of the Boy Scouts of America is ethical and moral choices, taking short cuts, while not in opposition, is certainly not in support of the hard choices you might have to make.  Scouts are trained to do easy things just to do the easy thing and get a badge.

They are not trained to excel. They are not trained to be exceptional.  When a Scout has to learn a knot, once you test them, you can never ask them again, it’s considered done.

This may have prevented bullying in the past and preventing Scouts from advancing.  But it also has the byproduct of Eagle Scouts who cannot tell you that parts of a boat, cannot remember basic First Aid, cannot orient a map and have no idea what Safe Swim Defense is.  They forget everything BEFORE they even get Eagle Scout. Because you cannot ask.

In 2020, the Boy Scouts of America extolled the highest number of Eagle Scouts ever.  At a time that their membership dropped in half.  This continues to illustrate the point that the Rank is being greatly diminished. A 13 year old has little grasp on citizenship or Family Life when they have not finished puberty but are in possession of Eagle Scout.

This phenomena is more in the last 10-15 years than anything else – a focus on checking lists, getting things done, and not learning anything along the way.  This is incompatible with the mission we shared with the BSA – help youth make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes.

In fact, Eagle Scout does not even address the actual mission of the BSA.  It addresses your ability to check off lists.

The Laws Have All Been Broken

The Scout Law, once an iconic symbol of American virtue, have all been broken by the Boy Scouts of America.  Through half truths and outright lies, poor leadership, manipulative policies, indifference to social issues and a sense of being a superior authority on raising families and youth, the BSA has utterly failed.  And they have been failing for a long time.

How Can the Boy Scouts Move Forward?

The answer is they cannot.  In 2017 when they announced they were looking at female troops, the national council visited local councils to take everyone’s temperature.  Frankly, there is nothing in the program a girl cannot do that a boy can do.  The national council told us it was a pilot program and nothing was decided.  Which was false.  The program was running, the books were already being produced and every single girl in Venturing who wanted Eagle Scout could get it.  So in 2020, when there was a rush of Eagle Scouts – it was driven by the addition of girls into Scouts and having them double count work in one program for another.

But the biggest reason the Boy Scouts cannot move forward is because the Boy Scouts of America killed it.  In order to avoid being sued by the Girl Scouts of America, which still happened, the Boy Scouts of America renamed the flagship program ScoutsBSA.

Boy Scouts, are officially over.

And they never said a word about it during their tours because they knew every single male adult would have said no.  So they did it anyway.  A gender neutral name for Scouting.

And thousands of units, including ours, never adopted ScoutsBSA.

Where will the Boy Scouts of America Go Next?

My belief is that the financial destruction of the organization is all but set.  In today’s litigious society, the BSA has no chance of surviving.  After the BSA settles the abuse scandal, they are already facing NEW sexual abuse allegations that occurred AFTER the filing was submitted.  And given court precedence, the financial costs will exceed $10MM per Scout and the BSA will be uninsurable, and bled dry of cash.

But the program could live.  The single greatest asset of the BSA is not their campgrounds, it’s their handbook.  If the BSA socialized the BSA handbook across the country and the rich content it contains, they could restore program participation and rise again.  But that is not how they operate.

As for Troop 759, we are taking the content, reworking the laws and building from scratch a program that will help the unique needs our youth in our community.

Scroll to Top