An Open Letter to Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive, BSA
The following is a letter I wrote, printed, and mailed to Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Excutive of the Boy Scouts of America.
Dear Mr. Surbaugh,
Enclosed you will find my Progress Towards Ranks diamond that was earned during my time as a Cub Scout. It is the last remaining souvenir from my Scouting days.
As much as I wish I could present this to you with all the flourish and drama of a rogue, but deeply principled, cop tossing his badge on his chief’s desk, I hope this letter will suffice.
After after watching our current president’s wildly incoherent and inappropriate speech at the National Jamboree be met with raucous applause (and boos for his predecessor who happened to be a fellow Scout) I have decided that it is time to cut ties with the Boy Scouts of America. It is no longer the organization that played a major part in shaping my life and making me who I am as a person today.
This is not a decision I make lightly. The BSA’s tepid response to the much deserved outcry of seeing a cherished organization turned into extras at a youth rally scene right out of a dystopian science fiction movie was the final straw. If there was ever a time to, at the very least, admonish a special guest speaker for straying off topic to titillate young boys with a tale about his rich friend’s sex yacht, it was the moment our president’s speech ended. Instead, the Boy Scouts of America’s lack of fortitude to do what is right only reinforced his documented history of inappropriate behavior that stretches back decades.
While my career as a Scout was nowhere near as long or as decorated as yours, (Bear was the highest rank I was able to achieve as Scouting activities in the 1980s didn’t exactly take kids living in single parent households of very limited means into consideration), the few years I spent as part of the organization provided some of my favorite childhood memories and helped forge lifelong friendships.
The weekly den meetings were a welcome escape and our regular field trips made up for all the weekend visits with my dad that never happened. Even our expedition to the town dump was more fun than a Saturday spent at the race track with the old man. Volunteering at a polling place during the presidential election of 1984 gave me a love for democracy that has not abated to this day. Then there’s the lasting sense of accomplishment in seeing the simple pinewood derby racer that you made all by yourself all the way down to the first-aid tape racing stripes make it into the finals against cars that were more tuned and modified than any vehicle in the Fast and the Furious franchise. And I’d be remiss not to mention the role Boys’ Life played in bringing the world to small town Nebraska. I may not have been able experience the adventures documented in its pages as a Scout but as an adult I’ve been doing a pretty good job of fulfilling those dreams made decades ago.
I just wish the Boy Scouts of America would have done a better job at being brave enough to take a stand.
Todd Munson, second Scout from the left.