More Changes Ahead for the Boy Scouts

Boy Scout Jamboree
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Earlier this month, when Mike Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts, unveiled the group’s new “Scout Me In” marketing campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness he said, “As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible.”

Who knew “every way” included sex and alcohol?

Leadership of the Boy Scouts has mandated that condoms be “readily and easily accessible” for next year’s 24th World Scout Jamboree, which is scheduled to be held in the mountains of West Virginia from July 21 to Aug. 1, 2019.

A subsection on page 10 of the scout’s 2016 handbook reads, “The Host [Organization] must ensure that condoms are readily and easily accessible for all participants and [International Service Team] at a number of locations on the site.”

The directive adds, “When making this information available onsite, consideration shall be given to the various cultures and beliefs present.”

That’s not the only change planned for the Jamboree, which will also include scouting groups from Mexico and Canada. The World Jamboree Guideline also allows and provides instructions for the consumption of alcohol in “confined areas” at the 12-day camping event.

Section 7.3 of the guidelines reads:

“The use of alcohol shall not be permitted on the Jamboree site. Some exceptions might be made for adults in confined areas, in accordance with the host country’s habits. Alcohol consumption may not affect the ability of any adult to carry out their assigned role. Adults may not interact with Participants when affected by alcohol.”

The changes to the Jamboree come on the heels of the BSA changing its membership policy earlier this month to allow girls to fully participate in local Boy Scout Troop programs and their official name change to remove the word “boy” to transform into the new genderless “Scouts BSA.”

And its equally controversial decision in 2015 to lift a ban on openly gay adult scout leaders and employees.

What hasn’t changed is criticism from pro-family groups. Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger, who also serves as chairman of the board for Trail Life USA, said in a statement:

“In light of the mandatory condom policy, it is not clear how far down the rabbit hole the Boy Scouts will continue to fall. With the addition of condoms and alcohol, the World Jamboree is starting to sound more like a 1960s Woodstock festival rather than a campout that parents would want to send their children to! All of this should be deeply disturbing to the churches that are chartering Boy Scout Troops. These policies present a clear youth protection problem that the BSA absolutely refuses to recognize. The fact that they are requiring that condoms be ‘readily accessible’ and are communicating this to everyone—including youth participants—shows that the BSA is both anticipating and facilitating sexual conduct between minors at this event. These policies are both outrageous and completely irresponsible.”

Following the BSA’s move to become a genderless organization, the Mormon Church announced it would end their participation in scouting in 2020. There are around 425,000 Mormon scouts making up 18.5 percent of the BSA’s total membership.

Boy Scouts of America claims almost 2.3 million members, down from 2.6 million five years ago and considerably lower than the more than 4 million participants it enjoyed in its peak years.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.

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