Thanks for pointing out the continuing grief the Boy Scouts get for trying to give programs to kids who very much want and, in many cases, need the structured activities and role modeling that BSA activities and participation provide. As a BSA professional in Manhattan from 9/01 to 8/03, I was continually awed and frustrated by the run around I got from community center and school leaders who professed that they would love to have their kids in the program but simply couldn’t, “legally”, provide any leaders, time, space, or money for fear of repercussions from up the bureaucratic chain. In other cases, they simply had no money. In either case, the council would provide the money to run the programs, subsidize camping trips, bus rentals, uniforms, pinewood derby cars, art supplies, camping gear (sleeping bags, lanterns, etc).
That said, the number of people supporting the scouts was heartening. When I spoke to kids in the Lower East Side and Chinatown, *all* the boys (and the girls too!) wanted to join the scouts. These kids (and their parents) know what they like and what they want. By denying money to the Scouts (and the Girl Scouts are suffering too, from what I heard from the GSA reps at the same events), groups like the ACLU and others are hurting these kids. Too many times, I’d meet with parents and scouts and have to tell them that, because of such and such dicate from the Board of Ed or lacking of funding because the Scouts are being charged commercial rental rates to meet in a cafeteria or church or simply because of feared controversy in the sponsoring organization, their program was shutting down or relocating.
Poor urban scouts have enough troubles. Finding capable volunteer leaders in urban neighborhoods is hard as it is. Cutting funding and access is not helping anyone. I personally know that no programs are clamouring to replace the Scouts in Lower Manhattan should they be kicked out. Those programs, Scouting or not, that are in place are in a constant struggle to keep the boys and leaders motivated and activities going.
Anyone who knows these neighborhoods understands that there is a *huge*, still unmet, demand for any kind of constructive program at all. If these people are so upset about the Scouts, how about ponying up and offering some competition? I promise, they’ll get no complaints.”