Boy Scouts enrollment declines

Karl Densmore, Lamp staff

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Jordan Twombly had a remarkable advancement through the ranks of Scouting, obtaining 81 merit badges and becoming an Eagle Scout at age 15.

“I was very absorbed in it, it was like a full-time hobby,” Twombly said. “I just did a little bit of paperwork every day for 30 minutes, and I was able to get it done. That’s a very important skill that I learned from Scouting. Leadership is also really important, and the high-adventure camping trips were really cool.”

Despite the benefits for Twombly and the long legacy scouting has held, Boy Scouts of America has seen a drop in participation among today’s youth.

Twombly said that his troop basically died off.

His troop is like many in the area that have become defunct due to lack of interest among youth.

“Basically, it’s the old guys in charge at the national level,” said Eagle Scout and Lincoln Land Community College student Jacob Beaird. “They act really traditional and strict, and they really overemphasize religion and patriotism and being a ‘good citizen.'”

Beaird started as a Cub Scout in elementary school and stuck with it despite not always enjoying the activities that they do at the younger age. As he got older and was able to camp and do other activities, he saw the fun and value in Scouting.

“I learned how to camp, leadership skills, conservation skills, and I honestly think that it helped me become a better citizen looking back at it,” Beaird said. “Summer camp was kind of like real life in the sense that you’re away from home for a week and you’re kind of on your own, and you have to do things on your own.”

For more than a century, scouting has been one of the most iconic youth programs in America. When people think of scouting, they often picture campouts, community service projects and leadership training. At times, scouts have even taken up critical roles in their communities, such as assisting police in guiding traffic and fundraising for charities. Scouting also traditionally played an important part in providing youth with advanced first aid skills and lifesaving training.

“While scouting did help me become a better citizen in a lot of ways, I don’t think any scout subscribes to it 100 percent,” Beaird said. “And a lot of it is subjective stuff. They’ve lost touch with today’s youth.”

Beaird said, “Having a ban on homosexuals is a good example of this.”

Twombly agreed with him saying, “They’ve kinda lost touch with what it originally stood for. … They’ve gotten away from the whole Daniel Boone feel that Robert Baden-Powell imagined.”

Baden-Powell was the founder of Scouts.

Both said the emphasis on being a “good citizen” and religion drives away many potential Scouts, as well as a lackluster experience in Cub Scouts.

Twombly said, “They’re trying to make Scouting something it’s not.”

 

Karl Densmore can be reached at [email protected]