I earned my Eagle Scout ranking, the highest rank achieved in the Boy Scouts, in 2001. It was a source of pride for me when I finished, although it took me a little longer to get it than my parents would have wanted since I finished it about two weeks before I turned 18 (the cutoff age). However it is something I look back on happily and I am glad I achieved something that only about 2.5 million other boys have done, including my father, uncle, and cousins.
One of the best things I got to do during my time with the Boy Scouts was attend the 1997 National Boy Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia. One of the highlights of the week was getting to hear a speech by then President Bill Clinton. President Clinton spent the bulk of his speech focused on Scouts adhering to the Boy Scout Slogan, “Do a good turn daily” and doing community service:
“If every young person in America would give back to their community in the way you do, just imagine what we could do,” he said. “Imagine how many fewer problems we could have. So many times I have wished that every young person in America had the chance to be a part of Scouting. And tonight I see why, more clearly than ever. So I hope you’ll go home and help others to serve and learn the joy that you share by the service you do.”
It has been a tradition for the sitting President or a surrogate to speak at the Jamboree since Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke at the first one in 1937. All of the speakers stayed far, far away from partisan politics.
Not once during the speech did President Clinton talk about government policies or politics. Which of course was the exact opposite of what happened when President Donald Trump spoke at the National Boy Scout Jamboree yesterday in West Virginia.
President Trump (never a Scout himself) tried at adhere to that tradition. Starting the speech by saying,“Tonight we put aside all of the policy fights in Washington, D.C., you’ve been hearing about with the fake news. “Who the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
However, the speech he gave sounded more like one from one if his campaign rallies. He bashed President Barack Obama (who only sent a video message in 2010), criticized the “fake media,” trashed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and threatened to fire his health and human services secretary if he couldn’t persuade members of Congress to vote for the Republican health-care bill.
One thing was all try to learn as we grow up is there is a time and place for everything when you are trying to get your point across. It is something President Trump seems to not understand.
Sure the Boy Scouts are not perfect, they have had issues in the past with sexual assault cases and not allowing homosexuals. The Boy Scouts has always been a very conservative organization, but it has evolved over time.
With President Trump treating the Boy Scout Jamboree like one of his campaign rallies it does a disservice to an organization that prides itself on good values and serving the community.
I think the funniest thing about all of this is the fact that the vast majority of the 40,000 people in attendance are too young to vote.
Hopefully President Trump can do a better job at reading the room going forward.