Born: 1910 Died: June 2000 Cause of death: Christian Dogma First, some other news items: Philadelphia, June 2003-Gregory Lattera, a Boy Scout and camp counselor for the previous seven yeas, was informed that he is banned from scouting because he admitted publicly that he is gay. Upon reading the letter, Lattera said, "It broke my heart. Port Orchard, Washington, June, 2002-Eagle Scout Darrell Lambert, who had provided more than 1,000 hours of community service as a Scout, was informed by the regional Boy Scouts of America executive that he had one week to declare his belief in a supreme being or quit the scouts. Washington, D.C., June 2000-The U.S. Supreme court, in a 5-to-4 vote, backed the BSAs right to exclude homosexuals. Justice William Rehnquist explained that gays violate the Scout directive to be clean and morally straight. Dallas, Texas, January 2003- Following a raid of the local Boy Scout office by federal agents, a grand jury began investigating whether the Dallas BSA franchise fraudulently inflated its membership to boost donations from non-profits. Im a Scout -Im 46, but youre always a Scout, like youre always Mr. President,though it's really "always an Eagle," something I didn't have a chance for... Hudson Valley Council, Troop 134, Order of the Arrow, Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, camp staff member, Scoutmasters son, Scoutmaster, and former Cub Scout and Webelo. I had a subscription to Boys Life for ten years, and I still remember Morse Code. I learned how to use a compass, start a fire, wrap a tourniquet, lash a log, shoot a gun and bow and arrow, paddle a canoe, sail, pitch a tent, tie flies and swim while carrying a panicked drowning victim. Steenking Badges? I had em all: sash with 23 merit badges, Scout shirts, Scout pants, Scout socks, Scout hats, Scout neckerchiefs out the wazoo. Be prepared. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, etcetera (I absolutely still know it by heart). Philmont. Baden Powell-words and names that only Scouting survivors would know. When I became a Scout in Peekskill, N.Y., Nixon had just become President. I didnt know what marijuana was, or what homosexuals were. Troop 134 was sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, just a little ways from St. Columbanus Catholic Church and School. There was an American flag on St. Columbanuss altar, just as there was at my fathers Episcopal church. Because I went to the public school, I was one of the few Scouts who did not attend St. Columbanus, and, with the exception of my father- an Episcopal priest-the Scoutmasters were all Knights. And, with the later short exception of my brother, I was the only non-white scout-though no one ever did anything but make me feel welcome. Although the KC Hall was practically on the same property as the church and the school, it had a full bar upstairs. Downstairs was where Troop 134 met every Tuesday night. The meeting always started with everyone lined up in military drill, while the scoutmasters strutted back and forth making announcements. There was one year when a young, crew-cutted National Guard member served as an assistant scoutmaster. He had the scouts marchin, salutin and about-facin up a storm for months. He inspected the troops like a drill sergeant, busting chops for shirttails, blue jeans, and uncombed hair or missing badges. We made fun of him behind his back, until he went to Viet Nam, never to return. Otherwise I remember Scouting was mostly all our dads best efforts at creating a Man Apprenticeship for their young sons. And it was a reason besides huntin and fishin for everybody to go out and play in the woods. I remember the really fun stuff like the time Michael Peck-who time would prove to be more than a little crazy- brought three bottles of gasoline to light campfires with, or the time that herpetologist Bill Haas came from Florida, with several cobras to show us! Or the time my best friend Michael Van den Berg and I were in a canoe and almost got sucked into the intake at Kensico Dam, and the time we put salt into the coffee at the KC dinner. In fact, it was a lot like Jackass, only better.:lol: When I went to boarding school, I had to pretty much give up scouting, and I found new diversions, but the Scout life had undeniable impact on my socialization. So I was a little taken aback one day when my boarding school chess coach, as we drove past a Boy Scout car wash, muttered something about brownshirts. Its true-a pack of Boy Scouts in uniform bears no small resemblance to the old newsreels of Hitler Youth congregations. We didnt go around smashing windows and assaulting Jews, but I certainly knew that a major intention of Scouting had always been to promote the military virtues of loyalty, obedience, and patriotism. I realized that, to my chess coach-and German teacher, a sophisticated Kennedy Democrat and barely former leftist hippie-the BSA was part of the conservative establishment. It would have been inconceivable for a kid in the KC hall to cop to being a homosexual or an atheist, but, in 1974, American culture as a whole was over the crest of a wave of change that went from free speech and civil rights to hippies, and Watergate. Back in Peekskill, I never thought of the Scouts as a fundamentalist Christian boys club or a junior ROTC. I expected the BSA would grow and mature with America, but it seems to be losing touch-I suspect there arent very many Hip Hop troops in the hood these days-though I met Scouts from what was the equivalent back then. It will be a sad day if the Scouts prove my chess coach right and become a dull, thuggish cadre of brown shirts. America in the 21st century deserves better. America deserves volunteer based youth groups that work in an atmosphere of tolerance and diversity, not a private club devoted to enforcing rigid, suburban conformity. We now live in a time where many children are neglected on a Dickensian scale: While the grownups argue over the principles of Christianity and capitalism, many kids go without food, care, tutoring, mentoring or love. I was happy to be a Scoutmaster for my son, angered and saddened by what scouting had become, and relieved when he said he was no longer interested in Scouting, and would rather just go camping and hunting with me and my friends; it was he who got me back into hunting, after I had given it up since the death of my father . I am not alone in my outrage. A cursory search on the net reveals Scouting for All, an organization composed of ex-Scouts like myself and devoted to reforming the Boy Scouts. Scouting for All has an impressive website and several regional headquarters. The BSAs funding from government and non-profit sources is now under legal attack, based upon the principles of the First amendment and nondiscrimination policies. Ironically, Baden-Powell- a real military scout in the Boer War, founded the Scouts when he found boys were reading the military manual he had written. He thought he was creating peace scouts. Meanwhile, I still have my Order of the Arrow badge, as well as a few others, and I still get flashbacks when I spot old scout uniforms in thrift stores. And I laughed my butt off when I saw that episode on South Park-a show I normally despise- about the gay Scoutmaster.