Today, the Boy Scouts of America seemed to back peddle on last year’s promise to accept and recognize gay scouts--by rejecting and banning a gay scoutmaster who was...gay.

Why did the organization do that?

Nasty administrators? Probably not.

Bigoted leadership? Maybe.

I suspect another factor: the organization’s core values.



Geoff McGrath, 49, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach
neighborhood. Link: NBC

I say this as a former scout who spent many of his most formative years bending to the Boy Scout Law: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. We had to memorize those. (Even today I can’t get them out of my mind when doing something fun.) Yes, I think the “law” needs a drastic retooling.

Here we go:

Trustworthy: It sounds good, but in a time of deep and pervasive corruption, I’d prefer “honest.” In fact, why was that left out of the list in the first place?

Loyal: I’m sorry--to what? The government? Your employer? Breaking Bad? I don’t think so, Beaver! How about...skeptical?

Helpful: OK, good start. But this conjures something a little paternal, like helping old ladies avoid the horse and buggie while crossing Main Street. I’d replace it with “charitable.” Again, where was that in the original?

Courteous: No one will ever believe you mean it, anyway. Try: “respectful.”

Kind: Do not change this! Please!

Friendly: Except, apparently, if you’re a scout master. How about “respectful” again?

Obedient: Fuck No! This is the problem! Try “independent.”

Cheerful: Why? It’s phony. Humorous--yes, that’s it! And where was it in the original?

Thrifty: Really? ( Ok, you get one “really?” a day and that’s it!) I like “responsible.” (But not “credit-worthy!”)

Brave: Yes soldier Joe! No--no Army recruiting in the Scouts please! ( I once had a straight (?) scout master who made us stand at attention and listen to “The Ballad of the Green Beret” every night of summer camp.) Replace with “agile.” (Better prep for modern workplace anyway!)

Clean: Bigtime repackage and reposition needed here. “....and sober” as addendum comes to mind. Organic? Colon-Cleansed?

Reverent: This is too knee-bendy. How about “respectful” (again)? “Open-minded?” Even--dare I say?--”tolerant.”

I’d sure like to hear other suggestions on this. It’s hardly a comprehensive list. And why just 12 Laws? It’s not a 12-Step thing. We still haven’t covered “creative,” “original,” “quiet,” “thoughtful,” and--wow-o!--”humble?”

But those are a good start to making 21st-century equivalents to the Scouts’ current Model-T laws.

We’ll start on those merit  badges next.



Greg Critser never became an Eagle Scout. Out of respect for the bird.