Wednesday, July 6, 2011

An Image Problem?

Last week at work I spent an evening with a bunch of people from the Division of Wildlife and BLM. We were on a tour of the Book Cliffs looking at wildlife habitat/fuels reduction projects. Given the make-up of the group, and the subject of our tour, the discussions often revolved around the role of fire on our landscapes. Not only that, the group as a whole was in favor of fire as a management tool. One problem, however, are the difficulties in working with fire, both politically and logistically. Several times throughout the tour jokes were made about getting fires started "under the radar" if you will. More than once, I heard someone joke about getting the Boy Scouts out with fireworks, or some other such device that would lead to an accidental wildfire. The implication, of course, is essentially that the Boy Scouts are irresponsible.

I don't think this is an isolated case, either. If you were to pick up the newspaper and see a headline with the words "Boy Scouts" in it, would you assume the article was positive or negative? All too often, I'm afraid, the answer would be negative.

This probably comes from experience. Several years ago a group of Boy Scouts was visiting a State park near Vernal and decided to throw some rocks in the lake. The only problem was those rocks contained Dinosaur tracks.

How often have you read a news article about a Boy Scout getting lost in the mountains, or accidentaly starting a wildfire, or needing to be rescued from... whatever?

When did this happen? I thought the Boy Scouts were supposed to Be Prepared. I thought they were supposed to have the skills needed to survive in situations others wouldn't. I thought they were supposed to be responsible with fire. I thought they were supposed to be Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, and Kind.

When I have to step in to break up a fist-fight at winter camp, or spend my free time at a large scout camp picking up garbage, I think there might be a problem.

Isn't the purpose of the Boy Scouts to train boys to be men? Isn't it to instill in them a character ruled by the Scout oath and law? Isn't it to teach attitudes and skills that will allow them to be a service and a credit to their country?

Have we lost sight of these aims? I hope not.

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