Scouts add much to community

Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 19:00

There’s a heck of a lot of scouts in this week’s paper, and that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention around these parts.

Chugiak-Eagle River is the unquestioned center of scouting in Alaska, with three of the state’s largest troops and the picturesque Rasmussen Scout Reservation among our area’s claims to scouting fame. Eagle Scouts seem to grow on trees here, and it’s not uncommon for the pages of this paper to be graced with the photos of multiple newly minted Eagles — in fact, there’s three on page 5 of this week’s edition.

In this week’s Star, we’ve also got a cover story about a unique set of circumstances that brought two scouts — one current, one former — together for a life-changing partnership at Chugiak’s Camp Carlquist. It’s a story about acceptance and inclusion, and we think it’s got some valuable lessons about how to treat other people with respect and dignity.

In recent years, the Boy Scouts of America has gotten a pretty bad rap in the media thanks to several sex abuse scandals and the organization’s internal battles over how to handle the issue of gays in scouting. These controversial topics have served as a troublesome distraction for scouting, which still has yet to resolve some of its debates and controversies. How the group deals will its problems will go a long way toward determining how popular scouting remains nationwide in the years to come.

But lost in all the politics is the fact that for thousands of young boys and men, scouting is one of the most positive and rewarding experiences of their lives. It shapes them into better, more productive citizens by encouraging healthy, active lifestyles in the great outdoors. It promotes good citizenship and values and teaches young scouts how to work together to achieve both group and individual success.

And there’s plenty of room in scouting for those who are different. While many try to paint the Boy Scouts as bigots for their stance on homosexuality (the group continues to bar gay adult scout leaders while allowing gay scouts), that’s far from the real picture. As you’ll read on page 3, leadership at Chugiak’s Camp Carlquist has embraced an autistic scout and allowed him to become a junior counselor. Scouting welcomes autistic scouts — as well as those with other physical and mental disabilities.

The media often loses sight of the complete picture when reporting the news these days. While scouting certainly deserves scrutiny — especially as it works to bring to light and root out sexual predators — the organization does not deserve the demonization it has received from some critics.

The fact is that scouting remains a powerful force for good around the world and especially here in Chugiak-Eagle River. A quick look around town shows dozens of projects Eagle Scouts have worked on, from signs at trailheads to a series of refurbishment projects at a local food bank. And let’s not forget about the hundreds of former scouts who make their home here as prominent and integral members of our community.

It’s an honor to have the Boy Scouts here. They’re an incredibly valuable part of what Chugiak-Eagle River is all about, and we’d like to thank them for the countless good works and productive young people they’ve produced over decades of proud scouting tradition here.

Scout’s honor.

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