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The Latin Scot

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Posts posted by The Latin Scot

  1.  I think it would be imperative of National to make these changes in regards to proper pronoun gender. To ignore the differentiation between men and women as understood by these cultures would be disrespectful at the least, highly offensive at the worst. The language has to be changed if the OA's intention to respect and promote the traditions of native peoples is to be sincere.

  2. Hey all! With my time cleared up now and my health more or less restored, I have been asked to serve as a commissioner by my district committee leaders. They told me to register as a unit commissioner, but they specifically want me to help with training new Cub Scout leaders, facilitating Cub breakout sessions at Roundtable, and above all being on-hand to support Cub Scouting at the district level. I am taking every training course I can find online and doing everything possible to make sure I am as well-versed in Scout policies and procedures as possible (luckily my mom was a commissioner for a decade so I have ready access to most of the primary materials). However, I know there is a lot that I don't know, and so I come before the wisdom of those on these boards to ask:

    Does anybody have any advice, suggestions, or encouragement to help me get off on the right foot in this new position? I want my service as a commissioner to be meaningful to all those with whom I interact, so any help or counsel will be most appreciated. Thanks everybody!

  3. So, first of all - I LOVE Laurel and Hardy, and reading your post @SSScout made me go back and watch a bunch of their old films again - thanks for the idea!

    Secondly, I have just been made a Unit Commissioner! Specifically, my District Commissioner wants me to help with training Cub Scout leaders in the area both at roundtable and at their committee meetings. My health is almost totally recovered, and I have gained back all the weight I lost, so I am ready to get back into things with a position that will let me stay involved without needing to over-strain myself with weekly den meetings and germ-ridden kiddos or anything like that. So I am super excited! My mom was a commissioner for over a decade, so I already have the uniform items I need, and there is a HUGE area-wide commissioner college for all of Southern California happening up north in LA next month, so I'll be able to start my Bachelor's in Commissioner Science work right away! 

    I am reading through all the training materials now, and I am excited for this new chapter in my Scouting career. Thanks all for your kind thoughts and generous wisdom; to those who sent me PM's, I am working on answering all those too. The doctors have given me a clean bill of health, so it's all systems go now!

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  4. Hey everybody, a question I would love some help answering:

    are all chapter advisers considered "associate chapter advisers," or is that a separate, specific position? For instance, is the adviser to the chapter vice-chief considered an "associate chapter adviser?" Any clarification would be much appreciated. Thanks all!

  5. Ah, it's finally been updated! Lots of interesting changes in this new edition too. Thank goodness the square knots have been officially limited to nine; the ambiguity of the previous guideline made rationalizing excessive patches too easy. Now it reads specifically "the number of knots is limited to three rows of three." 

    As for the rest of the Guide, it's very nice and much improved over the last edition. There are plenty of new images, and as a whole this new edition is far more detailed than the last. CSP's have a whole new detailed re-write with images. There is a whole new set of guidelines for custom patches and emblems, and Lion Scouts now have guidelines for their awards. There are changes to the Webelos insignia (the blue diamond rank patch is gone, as are specific Webelos Den and Assistant Den Leader patches), and Venturing uniform placement guidelines have been enhanced. The section on adult awards and recognition has been greatly improved and expanded as well. I recommend everybody check it out!

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  6. Merit badge requirements must only be signed off by approved merit badge counselors. The committee chair is not authorized to sign them off unless he or she is also an approved counselor for the badge cited on the application. 

    Finding the original counselor is not a problem; just make sure a new counselor is found ASAP, and that that individual is district-approved. 

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  7. 2 hours ago, Treflienne said:

    Class A's are a "field uniform".   Skirts and dresses are no good for such -- they would only be good as a dress uniform.     And yellow shows dirt stains a lot more than tan does.

    Actually I have been disappointed that scoutstuff.org is only showing the girls-fit shirt in the cotton blend.   How about a quick-dry Class A shirt for girls, so that it is actually suitable to wear on outings?  Has anyone heard if one will be forthcoming?      (We have told our girls to hold off on buying uniforms until it becomes clear what options will be available.)

    I believe it would be more correct to say that the Field Uniform is sometimes referred to as "Class A," though this is a misapplication of military terminology which we generally try to avoid. And I have to say, I know many women who hike and hunt and climb and camp in skirts, dresses, jumpers, et cetera. They would just need to use patterns that allow freedom of movement. 

    I do agree with the need for more fabric options for girls. I imagine that with time, National will start rolling out new options periodically just as they always have for the boys. But with the program being so new, one can only expect the options to be somewhat limited for a while. It goes with the territory.

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  8. On 1/23/2019 at 5:33 PM, shortridge said:

    If she decides that I suddenly have knowledge worth sharing and asks me, my recommendation to my daughter will be to take no merit badges at camp this summer.

    Go to the sessions; ask a lot of questions; follow up with open periods in areas you like; visit the areas during evening program; learn plenty of skills; get plenty of practice; try things that you wouldn’t get a chance to do outside of camp. But heavens to Betsy, don’t take any “merit badge classes”!

    If you really want to earn a badge that piques your interest, take what you’ve learned during this week and find a counselor back home that the SM recommends. There will always be plenty of time and opportunity for that.

    If you or any Scout wants to spend the week doing nothing but rifle shooting in pursuit of that perfect score, then spend your days doing that! Ditto for gritting out the mile swim, mastering the bow drill, climbing the wall, or catching that elusive giant catfish.

    But don’t waste camp taking a “class.” School is out. This is the summer. Enjoy it!

    I concur 100%. This is the Scout's chance to spend a week doing what he wants to do. Parents need to keep their loving, sticky paws off for the sake of their child's growth as an individual. In some ways, I feel like enjoying summer is becoming a dying art. 

    Completely off topic, it tickles me pink to see the expression "heavens to Betsy" still being used. That just put me in a great mood somehow. :happy:

  9. Thanks all for your kind words. I have been working with the new leader, and while there are a few pack issues that he will have to overcome, he has been well-prepared to keep the flame going. Meanwhile I need to keep my personal flame lit, and you have all been very kind with your thoughts. Thank you!

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  10. Well, I trained a bunch of Cub Scout leaders yesterday, and as always, I got a lot of initial frustration from the women leaders when I stressed the importance of wearing the full uniform (not just the shirt as is usual around these parts). They always express their (quite legitimate) complaints about the fit, or lack thereof, of the Scout uniform for ladies. But I showed them a few of these images and related to them the options coming out with the insertion of girls into the programs, and many of them were very encouraged to go check out the new selections. I hope they really do flatter the female figure better in the future, because I know many ladies who get frustrated trying to wear a uniform designed for gentlemen but in a feminine way. My mother actually had a pair of uniform slacks re-tailored into a skirt, and it's the envy of all the ladies in the pack who haven't the skill or means to do likewise.

    I know that in the 80's, de la Renta had designs for women's uniforms that, I opine, could actually have made for an infinitely better selection of options for girls. They should have put the girls in uniforms like these, with yellow blouses/shirts or olive dresses and all the other options shown here. That would have given their program its own distinctive yet historically rich look that would preserve tradition while simultaneously giving something new. These are clearly Scout uniforms, and on all of these options they could have followed the exact same rules for award and insignia placement, but they are also clearly designed for girls - and they work! If anything, de la Renta's designs for female leaders were far superior to his designs for the menfolk (outdoor-formal was a strange direction I admit), but the program didn't have enough women back then to make these designs relevant, and here the program isn't taking advantage of designs like these now that it has the chance. We should have looked more to the past to find better options for the future.

    Anyway, I have strong sartorial opinions if you couldn't tell, but man - I wish they would re-introduce designs like these instead of just changing buttons and rolling up pants. If you're going to run a program for girls, do it all the way! Sheesh. :rolleyes:

    Women Scout options.jpg

  11. Honestly, I think some packs allow their derbys to become excessively race-oriented rather than family-oriented. If at any point you allow regulations on the cars to become restrictions on involvement, you have a problem.

    Obviously, you need rules and guidelines to make an event like this manageable, but your goal should be getting the boys and their families to participate. Winning a race should be peripheral to spending time with the pack and providing an enjoyable time for all involved. Shaving fractions of a second (which sounds almost fanatically obsessive to me) off of a boy's time reiterates the idea that your event is about winning, when in fact, it's about building unity within families - and within your pack. 

    I suggest making moves to simplify your event. For example, our pack make a lot of "reformations" if you will while my older brother was Cubmaster. First we simplified the awards - every boy received a participation medal, but there were five "prize" medals - Fastest Car (no 2nd or 3rd place), slowest car (it has to make it all the way to the finish line to count though - we call it the "Marathon Winner"), Cub Scout's Choice (chosen by votes from all the boys), Most Creative and Best Craftsmanship (selected by the Key 3). This leveled the playing field a bit, giving boys a chance to win a prize for more than just a fast car. In fact, the Marathon Winner has become a highly coveted car lately, with some boys aiming specifically to get the slowest car they can make! 

    It also decreases negative parental involvement dramatically since the "esteem" of the fastest car is no longer the central focal point of the event. We trashed all the fancy-shmancy electrical timers and whatnot that just made things more complicated, and instead started bringing in three community and congregational leaders each year to act as judges. The car they say wins the round, wins the round. Simple. We have established that what they say goes, and as they are very respected, impartial guests, we haven't had any problems from parents taking umbrage with their decisions. 

    Now, you obviously have to find what works for your group, but making changes like these help reestablish the Pinewood Derby as an exciting, friendly night that celebrates the hard work and creativity of the boys and their families through the simple game of racing cars with friends. The simpler, the better. If a boy wants to refurbish an old car, what of it? If it still meets the prescribed dimensions of weight and size, there's no harm in that. The boy can do as he wishes if he follows the basic parameters. 

    I will however agree that if a boy isn't there, you have no need to race his car. At these ages, they won't care all that much about an event they didn't attend. But for those who are there - do what you can to include for the boy's sake, not exclude for the rule's sake.

    • Thanks 1

  12. Which merit badge courses should he take?

    Easy - the ones he wants to take.

    This is how Scouting works. A boy looks for activities he finds interesting, and invests his time in making them happen. If he wants to work on advancement, he'll want to work on required merit badges. If he wants to focus on activities only offered at camp, he'll take those courses. But if he just wants to do merit badges that he finds fun or interesting, he doesn't need to do anything else. Too often we as adults want to steer a Scout's schedule towards what we think they need, and we don't really trust them to figure that out on their own. But boys of this age, even 11 year-olds, are more responsible and eager to progress than we may sometimes think, and we need to allow them the liberty to prove that on their own.

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  13. Well ...

    over the holiday break I spent the better part of two weeks in the hospital's intensive care wing after a severe illness and other incidents left me unconscious for five days. I survived the ordeal, and I feel much better now thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, but it did leave me in a seriously weakened condition, and for a few months I will be dealing with a rather delicate constitution as I work towards restoring my health to what it was before the sickness. After much prayer and consideration, it was decided that I should let go of my duties as Webelos Den Leader for a time so that I can fully recover. I have been filling this role for three and a half years, so I've had a good long run of it, but still, it's a saddening change for me. I will be volunteering as Pack Trainer for a few months so that I can still play a role in pack activities, but I am basically taking a few months' hiatus to ensure a complete and proper recovery.

    I have been sorting all my materials to make the transition as smooth as possible. The new leader will get a progress record for every boy detailing every requirement for every adventure he has completed, clear and easy-to-read charts and records showing the progress of the den as a whole, family talent surveys with notes on each boy and his family circumstances, and copies of important documents, all sorted by colored tabs in a neat, organized binder. I have contact information for key leaders at the pack and district level, a calendar with all the important events for the year, and a list of activities we have traditionally enjoyed at various seasons. I have his new patches and loops (he was an Assistant Scoutmaster until now), his Den Leader Guide, some posters, and other useful items to ensure that nothing is lost through the cracks as the boys transition from one leader to another. I have sent letters to the families expressing my love and optimism for the new year's changes, and I have personally spoken to every boy to let them know that while I may not be their den leader, I will always be their friend, and they can always come to me with Scouting questions or stories of what they have accomplished. I want to make the transition quiet and unobtrusive so that I don't step on the new leader's toes as he assumes the mantle for this position; it's his show now, and I want to respect that by avoiding any undue attention directed towards me so that he can escape the annoyance of people saying "well, our last leader did things this way ..." I will announce the changes at Pack Meeting tonight, and it's a little heart-breaking just thinking about it already.

    So ... it's a hard change for me. I have always been 100% driven as a leader, and I had all kinds of plans for this year (the last year our Church will be involved in Scouting). I don't want to cling too hard to the past, but I also want to find ways to stay connected to the boys in the pack. Pack Trainer will be a good position for the time being, since I have been training for the district and council for the past few years already and it's not a taxing job for me, but how much distance should I keep so that the new leader can make his own mark while still finding ways to stay involved with the pack? And what else can I do to make sure the transition is successful? Obviously, I have a lot of emotions to deal with, and I feel deeply for the boys who have to deal with such a big change in their lives, but I appreciate any thoughts and comments that might help me as I make my first major transition as a Scout leader. My thanks to anybody who can share something that might help me deal with my very tender feelings.

    • Like 3

  14. 3 hours ago, Thunderbird said:

    @The Latin Scot  There are different versions of it, but here is an example of what a face paint Bobcat rank ceremony might be like:



    Thanks for that! I feel, from a pedagogical and practical point of view, it would be better not to use a ceremony like this for a Cub Scout's Bobcat award. At this stage we are only just introducing the child to the idea of Scouting, and we want them to feel that the achievement in and of itself, with the associated badge and mother's pin to represent it, is something meaningful and significant. Adding facepaint and colors and bonus symbols and balloons and all that fluff is rather like gilding the lily if you ask me. Greater accomplishments more worthy of such "ceremonial adornment," such as the Arrow of Light and, further down the road, the Order of the Arrow, will come. But this is the Scout's first award. Let's start them off by letting this award be special on its own, without being tethered to other superfluous activities or rituals. And at all costs avoid feeding them a taste for over-wrought theatrics that will only end up with parents wanting something bigger and fancier with every level. Nip this one in the bud, my friend.

    Keep your pack grounded. That's one of the most important roles of a good leader. Make things exciting and fun, but make sure excitement and fun are tools and means to an end - not the goal of Scouting itself. Good luck!

    Post Script: please note that many boys this age are extremely averse to any kind of face-painting or other similar attention-drawing activities, especially in front of large crowds. Some parents may like it, but there are many Scouts who will not. Never do anything without FIRST consenting with the boys. Without their complete and total approval, I would withdraw any proposed activities such as this.

    • Like 1
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  15. 4 hours ago, Cubmaster Pete said:

    What I don't want is one parent saying "Why didn't you do that for my kid" when unfortunately I don't have time to do it....

    You prevent this by first emphasizing at your pack meeting presentation just how special the Bobcat patch and mother's pin really are. This is the FIRST RANK* IN ALL OF SCOUTING. This is something huge! That patch represents something important! So make a real, meaningful presentation of the badge - what goes into earning it, what those requirements mean, where they lead, et cetera. Give it real dignity. And then, make that first mother's pin** really significant. Families make Scouting, so use Scouting's little awards to send a big message at that first pack meeting - we know you, and we recognize your efforts. If you make these two awards count, you won't need to add any other fluff to the ceremonies. And if parent here or there complains, just smile and say "we're working to make these meetings as meaningful to our Scouts as we can, and that means simplifying and even standardizing some of our ceremonies to put more focus on the families and less on the theatrics. Thank you for your patience and understanding!"

    * Lions not included
    ** Or father's pin, or whatever the case may be

    EDIT: By the way, I don't even know what "the face paint one" is, but I can tell you there doesn't need to be a "ceremony" for the Bobcat rank - the whole pack meeting is a ceremony, really. You present the patch with all due dignity and pomp, and then have the boy put the pin on his mother's hem with all manner of gracious words towards the family, and that's really it. I don't know what other "ceremonies" are going on as far as Bobcats are concerned, but they aren't necessary. Not harmful I'm sure, but not needed either. 

  16. Erasing our past only makes it easier for us to forget it. The Order of the Arrow has stood for service and brotherhood for over a hundred years, and by eliminating all the defining elements of its composition and character, we are also losing many of the morals and symbolism which the OA used to teach young men how to improve themselves and their communities. Many of these were powerfulful words and symbols and garments of Native American cultures. Adaptation and progress are inevitable; we can't fool ourselves into thinking that the Order of the Past is what the boys of today need. But we can still use that history, we can still teach from those same symbols and ceremonies and legends and costumes, finding new ways to honor their antiquity while respecting their people, to give boys that greater sense of purpose and selflessness which will strengthen them as citizens, husbands and fathers in the future. We have a duty to the rising generation of Scouts to offer them ALL the Order of the Arrow had, has, and will have to offer. Completely ignoring or eliminating the past will only wipe out possibilities for the future. So we do what we can now, where we are, to preserve those ideals and promises. 


    The past is behind us - learn from it. The future is ahead - prepare for it. The present is here - live it."

    - Thomas S. Monson, Silver Buffalo and Bronze Wolf recipient 


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  17. Well, the cold facts of this case are:

    1. No unit leader nor committee may add, nor take away from, the requirements, as written exactly in the Boy Scout Handbook and the Eagle Scout application.

    2. There are absolutely no prohibitions on multiple projects being conducted at the same place for the same beneficiary as long as each is managed entirely and only by each respective Scout (I know this for a fact because we just had two boys do their projects on opposite sides of the same street on the same day for our city, and I read through the requirements a dozen times to be sure it was permissible).

    3. If you would like to move forward as planned, which I suggest you do, simply move up to your District Advancement Chair for approval, and if not, your District Executive. Under no circumstances should you bend to any leader imposing false prohibitions on these boys' efforts.

    4. In all things, be respectful and courteous, and as has been noted, inform the Scoutmaster that the situation has already been taken care of. If he complains or makes demands, simply smile and say Thank you, the situation has been taken care of. Do not give him any room to argue, and if you must, just keep repeating it, but sincerely and kindly. If it's been taken care of under the proper authorities, it's been taken care of. There is nothing the Scoutmaster can do to impede you at this point in the game.

    All the best to you.

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  18. Put simply, a believer usually NOT a believer in a Church - he or she is a believer in God. God, at least in my book, does not change. How different denominations interpret divine will, however, depends on the people who belong to them, not on God Himself. I don't belong to a sect that has those issues, but I know that even among believers, many struggle to interpret consistent moral principles in religions of perpetually changing doctrines. What I would like to know is, how does an atheist determine right and wrong without an external barometer such as God or revelation? Please know I am not trying to be confrontational; I am hoping it will help me articulate my thoughts in this discussion better. If there is not some outside factor weighing in on morality, how does an atheist decide what morality even is? How does one learn without a teacher? How does one set a standard of right and wrong if everybody's personal scale is weighted by a lifetime of different experiences? Can there be moral absolutes if there is no Giver of moral law in the first place? I admit I have always been ignorant as to the reasoning of atheists. If you could enlighten me, I would appreciate it, and would be able to answer your questions better.

    Note: I am off to den meeting now, and I suspect that by the time I get back online this topic will be overwhelmed with responses. But I shall be eager to read how things develop when I return. 

  19. 1 hour ago, Pale Horse said:

    Since you can't answer the 2 questions posed, I'll consider this discussion over.

    Due to lack of response, I submit that there is no difference in the views of Atheist and Theists in what is right and wrong. 

    I can answer that, though an internet forum with strangers over the web is a poor place for a meaningful discussion about matters as profound as this. But there is a difference.

    An atheist believes that right and wrong must be determined by mankind. As such, there can be no right and wrong until there are people to say they exist. The duty of man, therefore, is to determine what he believes to be morally acceptable or morally unacceptable, and to live his life according to what he perceives those ideals to be. What those standards are will vary from person to person according to their own experiences and judgements.

    A believer holds that right and wrong have always been and always will be, and that they are revealed to mankind by a Creator who sees more than we see and knows more than we know, and so is in a legitimate position to make judgements that will benefit humanity. Concepts of morality are not created by, but rather given to, man, and so there is an absolute standard to which he dedicates his life, living according to his faith in that Being or Power.

    There is a great difference. But the difference is not as important as that what we share is that we want to do what is right. How we define that, and just what "right" is, vary, but we can work together to ensure that we all do our best, and that we are forgiving when we fail. That's humanity at its best, whatever you believe. Scouting does it one way. Perhaps you want to do it in another. Let's try to help and uplift one another, rather than try to tear each other down. 

  20. I run a Webelos den for my local congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We pray in every den meeting, we meet in the Church, we work on religious projects as well as Scouting ones. It would be easy for somebody to make the claim that by maintaining such an emphasis on our religion, we leave out boys who aren't believers, or even boys of other faiths.

    Unless you come to my den meetings. 

    I LOVE when boys of other denominations come to our meetings. I ask them to pray according to their own customs so that my group of predominantly LDS boys can be exposed to other faith traditions. I ask them questions about what their services are like, and love to attend them (I even have my own beautiful yarmulke, a gift from a dear friend, to wear at the many bar/bat mitzvahs to which I am invited). I invite boys and their families to bring prayer rugs and/or shawls with them during long activities if that is a part of the way they pray. I make sure menus accomodate any visiting boys who may have dietary practices to follow, just as I do (I am one of the few Scouters in my area who doesn't start my mornings with a cup of coffee). My den and pack are extremely devout - but that doesn't keep others from participating in Scouting with us.

    NOW - what of the boy who visits my den (and this is not too uncommon) who isn't a believer at all? Well, first of all I explain to the parents that we are a Church-owned unit, and that religion will be explicitly taught at our meetings. They deserve to know that upfront. Second, I explain that Scouting is a religious organization but non-denominational, meaning I won't proselytize to their child, but he will be exposed to faith-building concepts. Then, I explain that to achieve ranks in Scouting, there will be religious requirements that will require their child to explore their spirituality, but always with a non-denominational, personal and private approach. If they are okay with all that, I welcome their child into the group. If the parents are not, I make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR that their child will be LOVED and WELCOMED at our meetings, but that there will also be some parts of the advancement program that may prove challenging for the Scout if they are adamant in their unwillingness to at least investigate the idea of belief. That way, they can decide then and there is Scouting is right for them. If it is, great! If not, there are many other wonderful programs serving youth that might be a better fit for them.

    Most stick with it. Others do not. But it's always their choice; my job is to inform them and help them make the choice about what's best for them - not to try and BE what's best for every child under the sun. I can't do that. But I can help.

    In no way, nor at any point, are they being excluded. Rather I stand ready to welcome them into our group if they wish, but if we don't deliver what they want, we will gladly help them find a program that will. However, our program centers on belief, of whatever kind, and that does not change. And honestly, I have had many grateful families opt out of Scouting in an amicable, civil way, simply because we were honest with each other and helpful in making sure we help them get what they think will be best for their child. That's what we want for our children too. Maybe it's in Scouting. Maybe it isn't. Scouting is not the only program that builds character in young people. If you don't like that it requires faith of some kind, find a program you love that does.

    And if you can't find one, make one! I for one would be glad to support it.

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  21. 44 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

    I get that we're worried about Scouts and oaths things, but isn't it really about helping youth build character?  If we can keep our existing program and open the door so that more Scouts experience our program that's got to be a good thing.

    But doing one's duty to God IS the program, or at least it's certainly one of the most important parts of it. It's the first thing we commit to doing every time we recite the Scout oath, and if we, as Scouters, decide that we no longer wish to fulfil that obligation, an obligation we promised to do ON OUR HONOR, what good is our word in regards to anything any more? I made the oath as a brand new 11 year-old Scout, more than 20 years ago, that I would do my duty to God. Thus I am obliged, on my honor, to continue to do so for the rest of my life, and that includes defending it from those who would remove it from the very fabric of Scouting. And what's more, I want to do it. It shapes and molds my character daily, not just because it's nice, not just because it's respectable, but because it is my duty to God, and I am honored to serve Him. Millions of boys over the past century will gladly say the same.

    I am a little tired of hearing the word "exclusion," as though by requiring Scouts to acknowledge God we were the ones kicking them out. Not so. Our program is religious in composition if not in denomination, and if a young person wishes to exclude religious from his or her life, they should find a program that will serve them "according to the dictates of their own conscience." Scouting is not that program, and that's okay - let us serve the youth who want religion in their lives, and let other programs serve those who don't. That's not exclusion. That's being respectful of the feelings of others - both those who don't believe, and those who do.

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