“An Eagle was soaring through the air when suddenly it heard the whizz of an Arrow, and felt itself wounded to death. Slowly it fluttered down to the earth, with its life-blood pouring out of it. Looking down upon the Arrow with which it had been pierced, it found that the shaft of the Arrow had been feathered with one of its own plumes. “Alas!” it cried, as it died,
“We often give our enemies the means for our own destruction.”
A lot of folks are predicting the demise of scouting (at least as we’ve known it for the past couple of decades) regardless of the outcome of the vote on membership policies in May at the Annual Meeting.
If indeed, scouting sees a mass exodus of faith-based troops OR a ever-tightening strangle hold on corporate donations causing the professional organization to cut back its budgets to merely survive, we could (like the Eagle in Aesop’s fable) recognize the feathers we supplied to enable the organization’s radical change:
- Many scouting families have remained silent (talking amongst themselves, but not registering their opinions officially with their council). Any scout parent may use their son’s membership id, and any adult volunteer with their own membership id can partcipate in the official survey – http://scouting.us.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_0lecWOay3bPbczP
- Having corporate BSA appear to have listened more attentively to outsiders than current, registered members (i.e. change.org petitions signed by non-scouters shouldn’t be the basis of deciding membership issues)
- Secret meetings and surprise agendas leaked to the press by insiders are always a bad sign of lackluster leadership who protect their own interests instead of their constituents’ concerns.
- Failing to acknowledge that the very people who demand free entry to the organization have used, continue to use, and have vowed to use (in the future) un-scout-like methods: bullying, greenmail, lawsuits, and demands instead of dialog. If they can hurt the organization enough, they may gain membership as a concession to stop the pain. That’s NOT what we teach scouts — attack and intimidate your opponent until they cry uncle. Yikes.
- Continued belief that a compromise position (let individual units set their own policies for membership) is a workable solution. Neither sides of the issue find that compromise acceptable. One side fears litigation that would name the Chartering Organization as defendant (making it potentially harder to recruit COs). The other (as clearly communicated by the New York Times) has said that unless there is an absolute requirement that no unit may discriminate (fairly or unfairly) then the financial greenmail/intimidation of corporate sponsors will continue unabated.
- A lot of the pain at National HQ is over the lack of funding. Families who have benefited from the program, along with countless alumni who benefited by adding “Eagle” to their resume have a questionable track record of financial support. I’m NOT saying all alums or all families are poor givers, but … we could gain $60,000,000 per year in funding if each registered member and each Eagle alumni simply skipped eating ONE fast-food value meal per YEAR and donated ONLY $10 each. If the average donation was doubled, we could survive without corporate donors.
There may be other feathers in the arrow, too. Regardless of your opinion’s stance, make time to be heard. Let the BSA know, courteously and clearly, how you feel, why it matters to you and what you’d prefer to see happen (http://www.scouting.org/ContactUs.aspx)