Wednesday, May 20, 2015


I wrote a series of posts on Scouting on my old blog. Some are personal. Others were more general. I'm going to use some of them here. I want people to remember how it was in America in the mid-20th Century.


Back in the United States of America, Boy Scouting was an honorable activity. Scouting was held up as something to be proud of. Scouts were called upon by the government at that time to do what were called “National Good Turns”.

In 1944, one of those Good Turns was to collect milkweed fluff.

Before the use of synthetic materials, life preservers were filled with a material called kapok. During the war it was impossible to get kapok in sufficient quantities for the demand, and milkweed fluff had been chose as an alternative filler material for the life jackets.

The Scouts collected enough fluff to make 2 million life jackets. They were young, but their country was at war and they wanted to do their duty. They were members of the Boy Scouts of America and they had taken an Oath.

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country…
–The opening phrase of the Scout Oath


Archer said...

... To obey the Scout Law,
To help other people at all times,
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

-- The rest of the Scout Oath

Now, the Scout Law (for context, since the Oath mentions it):
A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

At least, this is how I was taught them (as a Scout in the 80s and 90s). Even then, they meant something, and we were serious about following them.

Then again, back then, they still taught archery and riflemanship, still taught about God and Godliness, didn't support gay marriage, and didn't allow females to join the Boy Scouts.

Charles Peterson said...

Collecting Milkweed fluff may again be a Good Deed. It is the primary food source of the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. With the urbanization of the country over the past 50 years, milkweed has become more and more scarce, leading to a steep decline in Monarchs.

L=Plant a patch or Milkweed and help preserve the butterflies.

Chris said...

And now the Boy Scouts are told they cannot have water gun fights. I would add a link, but every damn one I tried had an automatic (and annoying) advertisement as soon as the page loaded.

Sean said...

I made Eagle a couple of years ago, so I'm not too far removed from the BSA - in fact, I still get emails from my old troop - and archery and rifle marksmanship are both still taught, and good turns are still done. The current brouhaha is a result of frivolous lawsuits. When someone's special snowflake (to indicate that we're not dealing with reasonable parents) falls on their face and breaks their nose, the first thing they do is sue, because God Forbid that boys will be boys, or even that they take responsibility.
God and Godliness are still taught, although what exactly gets taught depends on the troop and its sponsor, Gay Marriage is still not approved - in fact, while the BSA knuckled under to allow gay scouts, their ban on gay scout leaders remains in effect. Girls are still not allowed to join the Cub Scouts or the Boy Scouts, and are limited to the Venture Scouts, who have always been co-ed for 14-21 year olds.

Old NFO said...

Heck of a piece of history... And lost to the general public...

Dirk said...

My son is a Boy Scout, and I'm an Assistant Scoutmaster for our troop. I've been involved with Scouting from the time he was in first grade - he just graduated from 8th grade. I served as the Asst. Cubmaster for the 5 years he was in Cub Scouts, and as the Den Leader for 3 of those 5 years.

We still go to summer camp, where they can still learn archery and rifle marksmanship, as well as shotgun shooting. They fish, they swim, the paddle canoes and kayaks, can learn how to sail or operate motor boats. Woodruff Scout Reserve has a great "Mountain Man" program for first-year scouts, where they get a "crash course" in almost everything they need to get to First Class rank.

The Atlanta Area Council still believes in Scouting as it used to be, and we have some of the best camp facilities in the state, if not the Southeast.

We still stand at attention and salute when our Flag is marched forward, we still say the Pledge and the Oath and Law, and we believe in all of them. As Sean said, God and Godliness may not be heavily emphasized, but it's not been dismissed - and it does depend on what troop you're in and what organization holds your charter.

There may be some places where they've wimped Scouting down to where they can't have water gun fights, but it's not around here, as far as I know.