RE: Attack/Response/Swansong/Izard (or: What is WRONG with
Thu, 2 May 1991 19:55:32 EDT
FROM: MAJ Mike Walton Office: ASQNI-POO-S-RC (703)325-5432/8084
SUBJECT: RE: Attack/Response/Swansong/Izard (or: What is WRONG with Scouting?)
This reply may hit the system twice. If it does, please excuse me. I am trying
to save the Army some money and limit my use on the EKU system to what I use
it for..to check mail, etc...(which is NOT part of my reply, but...)
Gary, get ready to read a lot. A lot of what I have to say is not based on
heresay, but rather my own Scouting experiences which is long, varied, and very
extensive. To all of you on the list from Georgia, I do apologize in advance
and will hope that you do not hold anything against me or your beautiful state.
Also, to those of you whom Gary call "red shirt" Scouters (and which I will
refer to as "Scouter Reds") again, I hold you in high respect, I listen to what
your experiences have been, but I disagree with much of what you represent.
I will NOT address the issue that was brought up here by Don Izard and pounded
on by some others. I will use that example of one of the reasons why I dislike
much of what Scouting is all about now.
As a youth, I trailed around a group of men and one woman whom are now field
directors and scout executives. These were men and woman that believed in the
program and would do anything to support it. Their fund raising techniques --my
fund raising techniques--were not based on the "save my employment" philosophy
used by many professionals in the field (and encouraged by their supervisors in
the offices) but rather "this is what you get with your money". It works a lot
better, you get more support and the pro don't turn into a "money man" but a
part of the scenery. It also meant that the pro was on the road a whole lot
than his "SME" peers.
These men and woman taught me a lot about the Scouting program and some of it
is not pleasant. Gary quotes Darwin"adapting is necessary for survival". The
first thing I was taught was that Scouting IS A MALE CLUB. No matter what the
guidance is from "way on high", no matter how many times we get sued (and folks
we are getting our #@(&#)%)#es sued by people with nothing else better to do
than to sue the "big guys" (the BSA). :example: In 1988, the BSA decided to
do something I have been advocating for the past ten years: That if I can be
recriuted by a female, be trained by a female; be guided by a female Troop Com
ttee chair, work with a female unit commissioner, and be led on the District
level by a female head of a major company...than a female SHOULD be a Scoutmast
er! However, there are only 27 Councils that have publicly went on record to
announce that females can serve in ANY leadership position in Scouting to
include Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster. ( I will be happy to provide the
most up to date listing of the Council list) :
The next thing I learned was that SCOUTING IS A WHITE LED, FINANCIAL INTENSIVE
CLUB. While at Ft. Gordon, attending the Signal Officer Advanced Course, the
Chief of Staff of the post came to our area and asked for me. (the previous day
I was involved in a minor running through a stop sign in which I exerted my
bars instead of my brain) After receiving the "ooohhss" and "ohohs" from my
peers, I was preparing myself for a severe tongue lashing. Instead (the lashing
came from my commander instead, two weeks later), he sat me down in the command
office and asked me about my Scouting background. "You are what I am looking
for", he said. "I want you fix my Scouting program. It sucks. I would not be
proud of sticking my son in in here...make it so I could if I wanted to." The
mission was clear in my mind....there was no Scouting at Ft. Gordon. My job
was to make it so. I was helped by the director of family support (whom was
also an eagle scout and a camp staff member, etc.) Using my Scouting background
I organized a commissioners staff, outfitted them with silver baseball caps
money out of my pockets), reorganize the pack and filled all dead or paper
positions with real people, dropped two Explorer Posts and combined two troops
into one. I also ran a successful finance campaign for the local units (NOT
for the District, which also included the entire city of Augusta) because they
were all broke, and produced two successful Scouting activities which had over
200 each in attendance and all units represented. I also interpreted the Army
regulation that cover military service at camps. (in the past, this council
was receiving free labor any time they felt like it from the post in exchange
for no services from the District Executive or District Director on the base
(except when rechartering time came around!). I recommended and the Post CG
put a stop to such "freebies". I was rewarded with a good evaluation report
(I was NOT on active duty but instead a Reservists during this time; my family
was starving and I was working two part-time jobs to try and keep my car and my
life intact), a medal, a a letter hand-delivered by the Scout Executive and the
Council lawyer saying that my services are terminated with that Council (yes,
they have the power to do that...the bylaws of the BSA says that!). I found out
from a member of that professional staff (whom I used to work for a few short
years ago) that "I was ousted because I knew too much about how Scouting reall
y worked there....about the "phantom" units, the camp staff support and thefac
t that the Council is in the red and will be for a long, long time. Besides,
you are black. No black man here get that much influence."
I thought long and hard about suing the Council, the region, and the BSA.
My wife wanted me to. My old boss said that I have a super affirmative action
case against them. Scouters in that District started leaving the program and
some have told me that I was dealt a "raw deal". I eventually had my car
repossessed and had to file bankruptcy because of it all and lost my wife in
the process. We cannot talk about Georgia without gritting our teeth, seeing
red and imagining the laughter from the "good ol' boys" in that Council.
So I did the thing I learned to do from Scouting: smile, even in the midst of
irksome tasks and weighty responsibilities and move on forward. I started all
over again two years later; I "retired" from scouting from 1987 to 88.
The REAL reason I was eliminated is so that the district can once again get the
$7000 from Fort Gordon and use it to try and meet their SME shortfalls. They
could not do that with Mike Walton around there, advising them on the base to
use that money to fix the on base camping facility and lodge house and not to
put it in a bottomless pit until they can fill it with concrete.
(I have forgiven the Scout Executive, but still in my heart is deep anger.
What ever you do, future executives, be up front with your volunteers.)
The third thing I learned, Gary, is that THE PROGRAM IS THE PROGRAM. As a
Exploring leader on the council, area, regional and national level, I could
never get the Scouter Reds to accept the fact that there are other programs
other than Boy Scouting. Theses guys will "camp" you to death. Mention Law
enforcement and the response will be "oh yeah, lets get those guys to be
the crowd control at our next Camporee"; a medical post becomes "first aiders"
at the same event and the other posts become "guests". Don't talk about campin
g there..."no way!!" " this is a BOY SCOUT event..you guys have your own" and
things similar to this....Scouting is based on the Troop...Not the pack, the
post, the ship or even the team (the Team?!? You really wanna hear some yelling
then mention that you have a Varsity Team and you want to go camping with a
Troop sometime! then make sure you have adequate hearing protection!). The
professional that survives is the professional that organizes the most troops.
Troops pay for the camp facility...enable small councils to think that can affo
rd larger camps based on the "projected number of scouts"...enable large counci
ls to go out and get more money because they have "more Scouts" in their counts
of TAY (total available youth, the "global population" of youth that can be
tapped by Scouting or other youth groups...) while professionals are concerned
with the "numbers" of things, you better know that they care about the numbers
of troops. You see, troops sell. We are all imprinted with the image of what
scouting is about: the Scoutmaster and his boys. That sells SME dollars
because the exec can point to the troop (successful or not) and say "this is
what scouting is about....the troop...
The last thing I learned is that SCOUTING CAN CHANGE--BUT IT TAKES A STRONG
PERSON TO MAKE IT CHANGE. While I was serving as a paraprofessional (a short
story I tell my closest scouting friends, and since I have no reason why I
should not tell you this, I will anyways) one of my tasks was to sit in on a
District meeting for a DE that was reassigned. (now he is a Scout Executive)
When I was brought into the room, the faces all traveled to me (in eastern
Kentucky, black faces are not a dime a dozen). I was used to that. I was also
used to the stares and the looks at the uniform (*note: my uniform reflect 22
years of total scouting service. I am proud of my achievements and accomphishme
nts and wear them (mostly) with pride!*).
Then as the Field Director introduced me, this guy (who is later I find out a
ordianed minister) stood up, looked at me and shouted "I an't gonna let some
)#)#*%&daned nigger tell me what to do", grabbed his red jacket and bolted for
the door. Out went next the secretary and a couple other guys. I sat there,
not knowing whether I should cry, be mad or leave. (I was wondering if I was
going to be okay getting back to campus...) Instead, I did something my Dad
taught me. I calmly placed my hands on the table and said "my only job here
is to help you. I cannot change the way I look, or my hair or who I am. I
can only ask you to help me." then I shut up. (something hard for me to do)
my Dad was right. The silence broke the tension and I was reintroduced. I
was the only parapro to stay there (they wanted me to work there fulltime)
longer than four months. (today, that District is one of that Council's most
consistant districts. They meet their SME goal, they have a steady small
increase in units and youth and their volunteers (including the minister who
runs a troop in that District today!) are the most committed ones in the
So why, you ask, am I breaking my balls for a program that has little attractio
n to today's kids, one which is racist and sexist and all of them other names
we could call it. One in which the professional is forced to organize and
reorganize and rereorganize and then ask for money??
I love it. This is the ONLY place where if you do a good job, someone(and we
are NOT necessarily talking about the Council or the District (you would be
very surprised at the number of "attaboys" I got from groups and people outside
the District or Council for work I did as part ofthe district or council!) )
will tell you about it. Why?? Because I remember the days of going door to
door in Rose Terrace, asking people to be our Scoutmaster. The DE was not
helping because it was spring and spring is SME time. The chartered partner did
not care..."we only sign the papers and give you a place to do your meeting at"
they said. So we went door to door and found our Troop committee, our
er, three Assistants and nine new Scouts. (you cannot do that today, BSA says.
you will not know what you will get. That may be true, but at the same time, I
was four merit badges and a service project away from eagle; my best friend was
a board of review from Life; and we have already paid to take our Troop which
was a merged combination of four other Troops on the base, to summer camp. I
was NOT going to transfer and take the easy way out just so I could get ahead!)
Why?? Because some of the best people and the most *hittest people I know are
Scouters and you cannot get away from either. Why??
It beats everything out of getting high...or getting drunk....and you get to
see some of the good things which make you glad you live here. You get to teach
at least once child how to read and understand that life is not fair. You get
to sit around the campfire and tell stories about the importance we place on
qualities like caring and loyalty. You even get a chance to tell how you met
your wife or how you got your first job. You learn how to cook from a womanwho
is just as comfortable placing a old skillet over a stove as she is doing the
same in a electric stove.
Gary, I agree with you on many fronts. But I am also a realist and know that
no matter what I do, I will not be able to anything more than to affectthe
life of one young man or woman. And despite the awards, the accolades, the
good feeling I get from something simple like a District operations committee
meeting, Nothing-----NOTHING can beat the feeling I got when I received a short
note from one of my former Scouts now in college. His dad beat him very time he
came to a Troop meeting. Once, he beat his all the way up from the meeting plac
e, yelling "you're there with those sissies. I'll show you sissies..." (I had t
o sit in my car and cry some nights, because I know that he was getting th crap
beat out of him!) He continued to come every week...late somenights, but he
would show up. He is now in Florida, attending school and he wrote me through
another Scout who was the troops's scribe. Paul is studying to become a teacher
(he could not read above the second grade level when he was in the troop). He
said that he remembered the one night where at the close of a troop meeting, I
told him about my "two roads" theory:
You have two eyes and ears. You can use them to shut out the realities of life.
Or you can use them to see and hear beyond what is said and heardand seen and
You have two hands and arms. Either embrace others and give of yourself
with no holds barred. Or shove people away and cross your arms in smugness
because you know "you" are better than "them".
You have also sets of lungs in which you can inhale things to make you
sick: the poisons of hate, of inaction, of injustice and ignorance. Or you can
exhale and feel you body relax as it should because it knows that under it all
we all feel the same way.
You have a set of what some people call "balls". Guts. Nerve. You can
stand up against the way things are and try to help or you can help the proces
s by doing what you can to mess it up for others.
And you have a set of feet and a set of legs. You can either kick others
rs out of your way so that you can get what you want when you want it. Or you
can take the hard climb and reach for those things when you get there. It may
take you a long time. You may never get there.
There are two sides to everything. The only question I have for you is
which way will you go?
(I was responsible for Paul John Lewis's father's arrest, and I was one to
write national in 1986 asking for some guidelines on child abuse. Private
Lewis is spending time (he used to be a staff sergeant) at fort Leavenworth,
for beating his son because he wanted to be with his friends and be a Boy
Scout. We can change the program, delete "god" from our promise, bring girls
in and have a black or hispanic Chief Scout Executive.
The real bottom line is that Scouting exist today not as a haven for the Pauls
and Carols of this nation, no matter where they are. It is a multimillion
dollar educationally oriented program, ran by people with eyes not on the
production of citizenship, character and physical fitness development. But on
the support system and how that system must be funded for us to attract more
Johns and Carols. Meantime, John and Carol are there....
..and somebody has to be there.
And if someone made the time in their "busy" lives for a small bullethead
kid with big feet; then I surely can spend some of my "busy" time with them.
Settummanque, the blackeagle
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City