Elizabeth McCoy: Finds Boy Scouts of America more inclusive

Friday, September 22, 2017
Finds Boy Scouts more inclusive

Tobias Kuhn became captivated by a book in the middle of a toy store with multi-colored balls, whizzing gadgets and rows of action figures.

He was 6 then and could not yet read. In fact, sitting still was never his thing, especially not in a toy store. The culprit was a merit badge book — a small book designed to help Boy Scouts learn about things from conservation to animation. This was four years ago.

My wife contacted the local Boy Scout council to find a pack for him to join. Pack 500 was not running at the time, so she started it with three boys, one being our son. Four years later, the pack has grown and now has 24 members.

This decision brought up a lot of feelings and doubts for me. I was conflicted by our commitment to an organization that both seemed to complement our son’s interests but also challenged my religious values and my beliefs about the inherent rights of the LGBTQ community. Over the last four years, the Boy Scouts of America has shifted its position and embraced the move to becoming a more inclusive organization. While it maintains the practice of recognizing a higher power, it respects personal freedom of choice in this regard. Raised by an atheist, I feel that freedom is respected and represented within Scouting events.

Our son has been in Scouting for four years now. He has enjoyed making friends, learning leadership skills, tying knots, sewing a bag, numerous hikes and volunteer community service projects. Our family cherishes the memories of events like the time we cooked over an open fire and the day our son shifted out of his shyness and began to lead activities. He beams with pride and confidence when he tells stories about conquering the rock wall at camp or eating fried crickets during the “bug hunters”-themed week.

He will be moving from a Cub Scout to a Boy Scout this fall and we couldn’t be more proud of him. The Boy Scouts of America has offered my son a unique character-building experience. As he grows into being a Boy Scout, he will have the opportunity to learn lifelong leadership skills. Part of this training experience comes from working with Cub Scouts.

If you have a boy between the ages of 5 and 18 who would like to make friends, learn new skills, become more confident and have fun, I recommend joining the Boy Scouts of America. And join Pack 500 at the Amherst Block Party from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 4.

Elizabeth McCoy