scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: Arrow of Light
Bruce E. Cobern (bec@PIPELINE.COM
Sat Nov 20 1999 - 20:49:43 CST
> From: Robert F. Reeder [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
> Sent: Saturday, November 20, 1999 9:27 PM
> To: Bruce E. Cobern
> Let me get this straight. National has determined that a boy who has
> received the AOL, or is 10.5, or has completed the 5th grade can join
> boy scouts. However, if the wisdom of the local troop (who has the
> ability to determine what is in the best interest of the boy) is that
> the boy isn't mature enough to join, the application is denied? Did I
> hear this right?
You heard it exactly correctly because NO unit is REQUIRED to accept any
particular application. There is absolutely NO right to be a member of the
organization or of a particular unit within the organization. A chartered
organization can, for example, limit its membership to its members. Or, it
can decide that it does not feel a particular youth is mature enough to join.
> Let me take it a step further. Are you then saying that it is possible
> for a 15 year old boy, who wants to join, but is ________ (you fill in
> the blank) to be turned down because the almighty troop leadership feels
> that it is in the best interest of the boy?
That is also absolutely correct. You can refuse to let a boy join and you can
throw a boy out who you don't feel is meeting the rules of the chartered
organization, is causing problems, isn't paying dues, etc. This is what ALL
the lawsuits are about. The BSA is a private organization and nobody has a
right to membership. That extends down to the unit level. A unit can choose
to admit or exclude any youth or adult it wants and it is not even required to
provide a reason. You may not like it, but that is the way this organization
> I can hear the cries of racism, bigotry, and everything else as I
> contemplate what can happen with such an attitude within troop
You can cry that if you want, and it might even be true, but as a private
organization it is also permitted, right or wrong.
> It sounds to me that the troop is making a decision that is in the best
> interests of the troop, not the boy. I do not see how the troop can
> make decisions that are in the best interest of the boy. That is the
> responsibility of the boy and the parents, not the troop.
We are in the business of constantly making decisions about what we believe is
in the best interests of the boy. That is what Scouting, as an organization
about character, fitness, and citizenship is all about. We have to evaluate
what WE BELIEVE to be in his best interests and act on it. If the parents
disagree they are free to take their business to another unit. As to whether
they might really be acting in the best interests of the troop rather than the
applicant, I would hope so. Their obligation is FIRST to those already in the
unit. If the admission of a new boy adversely impacts the experience of the
rest of the troop then the leaders were derelict in allowing the boy to join.
If I ever
> encountered such a scenario as what is being advocated (turning away a
> boy because it is in the boys best interests) you can bet I would be on
> the phone with the DE and the SE. And I can assure you that others
> would have their lawyers calling the DE and SE.
And what the DE and SE should be telling them is that it is up to the unit
whether to accept the application or not.
Bruce E. Cobern
Founders District, Queens Council, NY