September 30, 2013

The uniform goes back on, but not for the reason you might think.

You may recall that a year ago, I stopped executing any duties I had as an Assistant Scout Master. While I continue to think the scouting program has an amazing list of incredibly great things to offer youth and their parents, I cannot represent the organization in an official capacity as long as BSA professes a policy of discrimination.

Turns out, there's one exception to that. Tonight I'll put the uniform back on for one final duty. No, actually, it's not a duty--it's a privilege.

Most people experience Boy Scouts through media and popular culture. To many people, scouting looks like a playground for bigoted, chauvinistic, he-men to parade their sons around in manly fashion. In my experience, it's exactly the opposite. In my experience, scouting has been about regular little boys being given an opportunity to learn responsibility and leadership as they grow through their teen years. It's been about families supporting each other through incredibly difficult times. It's been about personal responsibility, community involvement, and life skills.

One of the boys in our troop has completed all his requirements to reach the Eagle rank. You should see this kid's school course load--smartest kid I've known, probably. To have accomplished what he has, self-directed with only mild coaching from the adults around him, is a great achievement. And tonight I get the privilege of meeting with him as his Assistant Scout Master before he takes the final steps toward the Eagle rank.

I know it seems I'm being inconsistent. But it doesn't feel inconsistent to me. I'm not putting on the uniform to show how great I think Boy Scouts is, or how great I think I am for being a trained BSA leader. I'll be wearing it to show respect for this young man and his achievement and dedication. I'm not the authority figure; I'm the witness.

And when our meeting is over, the uniform goes back on its hangar. I don't expect to wear it again, though I suppose it's possible.

4 comments:

Diana Birchall said...

Absolutely no idea of the proper place to leave a comment, but I just wanted you to know that I thought your comment on Kathryn Rusch's post on foolish one-book authors vs. The Real Professionals was spot on. Thanks.

Diana Birchall

Peter Dudley said...

Thanks, Diana! That's nice to hear.

Dianna Smith said...

You are about as consistent as a person can be!

Thank you for this thoughtful post!

Peter Dudley said...

Thank you, Dianna!

And I think this is the first blog post where I've had a Diana and a Dianna comment.