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Guest column | Richard A. Howard

America needs Boy Scouts more than ever

The Boy Scouts of America celebrated its 100th anniversary on Feb. 8. It was founded in 1910. How many volunteer organizations have enjoyed 100 years of service?

I write this to recognize the youth and the leaders who pursue honorable lives in dishonorable times. But, rather than spend a lot of time on the rich history of the past century, I'd like to inform readers of the expanding relevancy of the Scouting movement for the next 100 years.

Over the next several weeks there will likely be publicity about the national government and business leaders whom have shared the Scouting experience. Presidents and astronauts are the most notable Scouts, but are by no means the most important.

Boy Scouting is all about leadership. Training the youth to recognize the responsibilities of adulthood, accept those principles, provide service to the community. The Scouting program serves both young men and women.

Too many people who have no contact with Scouting likely have outdated ideas about who we are and what we do. Having enjoyed the Scouting life from the 1960s to today, I can tell you without contradiction that Scouting has never been more relevant. Scouting has evolved and grown without changing its core values. The phrases: reverence of God, love of country, service to others, personal responsibility are just the tip of the relevancy iceberg that defines the future of Scouting.

The popular media has concocted and perpetuates the image of a Boy Scout as some nerdy kid tying knots in the woods. Look to the faces of the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, standing guard in Korea, delivering supplies in Haiti and you will see the real faces of Scouting. Every month I receive the Eagle Newsletter with the photographs of adult Eagle Scouts serving our country in far-off, dangerous lands. And those are just the Eagles!

There are approximately 120 merit badges that boys can earn representing examples of real world challenges. While everyone knows that subjects like camping, cooking, first aid and swimming are listed, you may not know that subjects like American business, computers, disabilities awareness, engineering and environmental and nuclear sciences are also available. I dare anyone to compare that list to the average middle or high school curriculum.

For the last 100 years, the following truths sustained Scouts.

The Scout Law reads, "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent."

The Scout Oath states, "On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight."

It's much harder to be a Scout now then when I was a youth. Too many distractions, too many temptations, too few role models. But, imagine the difference in our lives and our country if we all followed those principles.

America needs to return to the values that Scouting has never left.

Fifth Judicial Circuit Judge Richard A. Howard of Inverness earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 1968.

America needs Boy Scouts more than ever 02/11/10 [Last modified: Thursday, February 11, 2010 7:15pm]
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