About: Scout Executives Updates
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Scouting Cultivates Patriotism and the Best in our Youth and Adults
From NYC Scouter December 2016 - December 2017
We teach boys and young adults to “cultivate courage, loyalty, patriotism, brotherliness, self-control, courtesy, kindness to animals, usefulness, cheerfulness, cleanliness, thrift, purity and honor.” It says so in the preface to the Scout Handbook.
If you are like me then you just love that about Scouting.
We also cultivate a certain type of citizenship that speaks to the best of mankind. No matter the political persuasion or appetite for politics, we in Scouting and Exploring mandate an earnest, honest respect for the office. We strive to instill this in our Scouts and Explorers, and for the most part, live that as adults.
It is also interesting that Boy Scouts of America doesn’t endorse any political party. You could say that rather than being pro-left or pro-right, the Boy Scouts of America is pro-America.
The same applies to your pack, troop, team, post, ship or crew. You and your Scouts should Do Your Duty to Country but not by endorsing any one candidate.
During election years, especially contentious ones like this one, the line between patriotism and political favoritism becomes thin, making it important to reinforce our official policy on Scout participation in political rallies.
The fact is it’s perfectly fine for our members to provide a color guard flag ceremony, in uniform, at political events. It’s just that a unit serving as color guard must then immediately depart the stage and the premises. Think of it this way: they provide a patriotic service and depart before things get political.
With some help from ‘Bryan on Scouting’, here’s some frequently asked Q&A:
Q: Could a pack, troop, team or crew provide a color guard flag ceremony for a candidate’s public speaking event or rally?
A: Yes. But, BSA Policy requires our adult and youth members in uniform to leave immediately after the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Should they want to stay they must do so as individuals, not Scouting representatives. That means they would have to change out of their uniforms.
Q: So Scouts and Scouters can’t stand on the platform for the remainder of the speech or presentation?
A: No, they should not remain on the speakers’ platform or in a conspicuous location where media could construe their presence as an endorsement or symbol of support.
Q: Why is this the rule?
A: The policy is meant to prevent someone from using our BSA brand to convey support of a candidate or ideology. This prevents Scouts from being used by any party in campaign advertisements or materials.
Q: So then why is it OK to even present the colors or lead the Pledge of Allegiance at all?
A: Those are displays of loyalty to the nation, something the BSA has always endorsed. Regardless of the outcome of the political race, the candidate and supporters pledge allegiance to the U.S. Because of this, it is always acceptable and deemed to be a part of the civic process. Also, this “service” is offered to any party, regardless of political affiliation.
Q: Can Scouts and Scouters pose for photos with political candidates at these events?
A: Yes. But photos of candidates or Scouts in uniform or BSA marks and logos are not allowed in political campaign materials of any kind.
Q: Can adult leaders or Venturers who are 18 or older vote in elections?
A: Not only can they — they should! This policy isn’t meant to limit the freedom of thought or action of any official or member acting as an individual. Scouters, Explorers and Venturers shouldn’t wear their uniform to the polling place, but they should vote for whichever candidate they prefer. That’s all part of being a good citizen — something the BSA has taught for more than a century.
Q: What can Scout leaders do to support this policy?
A: Volunteers (and professionals) must be alert to situations that would imply that the BSA favors one candidate or party over another. Strict observance of our long-standing policy against the active participation of uniformed Scouts and leaders in political events is mandatory.
Q: Does Scouting still teach patriotism and citizenship?
A: Yes! The Boy Scouts of America teaches the ideals of patriotism and good citizenship as required to fulfill its purpose.
I hope you will not only talk about this in your Scouting circles, but promote these ideals.
As always, I warmly welcome and appreciate your ideas, concerns and feedback.
Thank you for all you do!
Yours in Scouting friendship,