Entries in Boy Scouts (7)


Boy Scout Troop to Retire 2,000 American Flags

Chris Knorr / Design Pics / Thinkstock(ST. LOUIS) -- A special needs Boy Scout Troop is set to retire over 2,000 American flags Saturday to benefit the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.

According to the United States flag code, when an American flag is worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, to the point where it needs to be replaced, it’s time to “retire” the old flag through a respectful ceremony.
Troop leader Joe Vaughn says it's the largest flag retirement event ever.

“I have Googled it, I've Binged it,” Vaughn said. “2,000 flags have never been retired before.”

With each flag that is retired, the troop is asking for a dollar, and all the money collected goes to buy new flags for Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.

“We decided since a lot of my boys are on [Social Security's Supplemental Security Income] and they've had state and federal help in the past that we wanted to pay it forward a little bit,” Vaughn explained.

There are many ways to respectfully retire a flag, all of which end by burning it, but the Boy Scouts have a special ceremony of their own.

The flag is cut into four pieces, and all four are then burned. The blue star-filled section is never to be cut, according to the Boy Scout’s website, as “it represents the union of the fifty states and one should never let the union be broken.”

While it is burning, scouts maintain a vigil over the fire, and recite a short eulogy for Old Glory.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Will Boy Scouts Lift Ban on Gays?

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty ImagesUPDATE: In a statement Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America said that "due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy."

"To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns," the statement continued. "This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013."

(NEW YORK) -- The fate of the long standing ban on gays in the Boy Scouts may be decided by the organization's governing board on Wednesday, when officials wrap up their third day of closed-door meetings outside Dallas.

Supporters of lifting the ban say it would be good for the organization.

"The Boy Scouts will make a private choice and I think that if scouting wants to have a prosperous future in the United States, they're going to have to appeal to those of us who have young kids and are going to be enrolling them in the program," explains Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality.

"If you look at where young Americans are on this issue, especially the Millennial Generation, those of us under the age of 35, we are overwhelmingly supporting LGBT equality and recognizing that gay people are, you know, people," he says.

But opponents, like Richard Land, who heads the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, warn of consequences to the Boy Scouts if the ban is lifted.

"There will be a mass exodus from scouting to some new form of organization if the scouts make this decision," Land says.

Even though the organization has promised church-affiliated troops would still be able to decide whether to keep the ban in place, Land doesn't buy it.

"This is not a live and let live situation here.  They want to force every scout troop in America to accept homosexual scout leaders and homosexual scout members," he says.

Despite the objection of the Southern Baptist Convention,  Wahls points out that many other denominations support the lifting of the ban.

"Presbyterian clergy, numerous United Methodist ministries, the ELCA Episcopalians and the United Church of Christ have all weighed in and believe that ending this policy would be in line with scouting's fundamental values of dignity and respect," he says.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Released 'Perversion Files' Detail Alleged Abuse in Boy Scouts

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- More than 14,000 pages revealing the alleged abuse reported within the Boy Scouts of America were finally released to the public on Thursday as the organization apologized for failing to protect children and punish the adults who had preyed on them.

The Oregon Supreme Court ordered the release of the documents, which have been dubbed the "perversion files."  They detail charges and allegations made against 1,200 adults nationwide from 1965 to 1985 and the Boy Scouts' apparent attempts to either cover up accusations made against the scoutmasters and volunteers, or force them to resign under the pretense that they were too busy to continue with the group.

The records came to light after six former scouts successfully sued the organization in 2010, claiming they were molested by a Boy Scouts leader.  They won $20 million in the judgment.

The Boy Scouts tried to prevent the release of the documents but lost in court.

In about a third of the cases, the scouting organization never notified police when they learned about an alleged assault.  Because the statute of limitations has lapsed for most of the cases, they cannot be prosecuted.

"Basically, the Boy Scouts turned their eyes away, told the molesters to go away and just hope this doesn't happen again," said Patrick Boyle, author of Scouts Honor: Sexual Abuse in America's Most Trusted Institution and a researcher of scout abuse for more than 20 years.  "Of course, it kept happening again."

Many of the accounts are chilling.  In one instance, an assistant scoutmaster in Rhode Island was accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy.

"He was confronted with the facts and admitted his role in the act," the documents say.  "He [was told] he would no longer be allowed to serve in any adult capacity ... and to stay away from Scout X to avoid any further possible trouble."

There is no mention in the file of the police being contacted.

In another memo, a scouting executive recommends that the organization drop a case against a suspected abuser.

"If it don't stink, don't stir it," the executive says.

"We did not do the job that we should have," said Wayne Perry, president of the Boy Scouts of America.  "And for that, and for the people hurt ... we are profoundly sorry."

In a further statement, Perry said: "Today, scouting is a leader among youth serving organizations in preventing child abuse.  The [Boy Scouts of America] requires background checks, comprehensive training programs for volunteers, staff, youth and parents and mandates reporting of even suspected abuse."

Matt Stewart, who sued the Boy Scouts of America and settled out of court in 2005 after he was sexually abused as a child by his troop leader, said victims' voices were being heard.

"Today is a victory for all the victims who suffer in silence," Stewart said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Boy Scouts Reaffirm Ban on Gays

Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images(IRVING, Texas) -- The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays from joining or being leaders – a decision that’s disappointing gay rights groups.

A special committee of Scout executive and adult volunteers formed in 2010 concluded unanimously that the anti-gay policy was “in the best interest” of the 100-year-old organization.

The Scouts is one of the largest youth organizations in the country with 2.7 million members and more than 1 million adult volunteers.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and son of Iowa lesbians who has been outspoken in the issue, today accused the organization of basing their decision on a committee of "11 unelected, unnamed bureaucrats."

"Why not put out a call and make it a democratic process?" he said to ABC News. "Why have a secretive committee make the decision?"

"I believe the vast majority of Scout families do not support their policy on excluding gays and if that is the case, they picked an awfully interesting way of affirming that in their report," said Wahls.

"It's disappointing," he said. "The first value of the Scout's law, is a scout is trustworthy and this process does not sound trustworthy. We don't know who the people are -- they are not named and they are not willing to accept responsibility for their actions."

But the Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said that both leaders and Scouts overwhelmingly support the policy.

"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

Just this week AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, executive board member of the Boy Scouts of America, said he was committed to ending the ban. He takes over as president in 2012, according to Wahls.

"Things are changing," said Wahls. "He will be one of the three most powerful men in the organization."

The exclusion policy was challenged in 2000, but the U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Boy Scouts of America, ruling 5-4 that the organization was exempt from state laws that bar anti-gay discrimination.

The court overturned a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court to require a troop to readmit a longtime gay scoutmaster who had been dismissed.

The Girl Scouts of America has had a diversity policy and non-discrimination clause since 1980.

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick expressed dismay over the decision.

"With organizations including the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Boys & Girls Club and the U.S. military allowing gay Americans to participate, the Boy Scouts of America need to find a way to treat all children and their parents fairly," said Graddick in a prepared statement.

"Until this ban is lifted, the Scouts are putting parents in a situation where they have to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are being turned away simply because of who they are. It's unfair policies like this that contribute to a climate of bullying in our schools and communities. Since when is that a value worth teaching young adults?"

The president of the largest U.S. gay-rights group, Chad Griffin, of the Human Rights Campaign, depicted the Scouts' decision as "a missed opportunity of colossal proportions."

"With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued," he said. "They've chosen to teach division and intolerance."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eagle Scout Challenges Boy Scouts' Anti-Gay Policy With Petition

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout from Iowa. (, Fla.) -- Eagle Scout Zach Wahls challenged the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy Wednesday when he delivered three boxes of petitions demanding change, signed by more than 275,000 people.

Wahls, 20, presented the petitions during the Boy Scouts' National Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mom who was removed as the den leader of her 7-year-old son's Cub Scout troop in April because of her sexual orientation. The Boy Scouts are the parent organization of the Cub Scouts.

Wahls is the author of My Two Moms and a video of his three-minute speech before Iowa legislators urging them not to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions went viral in February 2011.

The petition called for Tyrrell's reinstatement and a change in policy for the organization.

"It is time for the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its policy of exclusivity against gay youth and leaders," the petition reads. "Please sign this petition to call for an end of discrimination in an organization that is shaping the future."

The petition has garnered support from celebrities including Ellen DeGeneres, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Josh Hutcherson, Ricky Martin and Julianne Moore, among others.

After delivering the petitions, Wahls met privately with three Boy Scout representatives.

"It went well. It was an honest conversation, but a productive one," Wahls told ABC News. "The fact that the meeting happened is a really positive indicator."

Wahls said the Boy Scout leaders were "receptive" of his ideas and he believes the conversation is a positive first step in overcoming cultural prejudices.

Following the meeting, the Boy Scouts released a statement that said they have "no plans" to change their policy.

Wahls is not deterred by the statement.

"President Obama said the exact same thing up until the day he endorsed same-sex marriage. I expect we'll see a similar progression from the Boy Scouts," he said. "Obviously, this is a very long-standing policy and I don't think it we'll see a change today, this week or even this year. But over the coming months, we'll continue to take steps in this evolution."

Tyrrell, 32, was not in Florida for the delivery of the petitions, but will join Wahls at the GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco on Saturday. She told ABC News she is grateful for all of the support.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Indiana Boy Scout Leader Stabbed to Death on Hike, Suspect Arrested

Shane C. Golitko is shown in this photo released by the Indiana State Police. (Indiana State Police)(BUNKER HILL, Ind.) -- An Indiana man on a violent rampage allegedly stabbed and killed an assistant Boy Scout leader on a hiking trip with three others. The man, Shane Golitko, 22, also allegedly beat his own mother and killed a dog before leading police on a car chase that ended with his arrest.

The Indiana State Police responded to a 911 call on Saturday afternoon reporting a possible stabbing on the Nickel Plate Trail in Bunker Hill, according to a police report.

Upon arrival, officers found 76-year-old Arthur Anderson "on the ground bleeding profusely from his neck," according to the report. Even though medics and civilians on the trail tried to save Anderson, he died at the scene.

"They had no contact with each other, other than Mr. Anderson being at the wrong place at the wrong time," said Indiana State Police spokesman Sergeant Tony Slocum. He called the attack a "random and senseless crime."

Witnesses told police that an unprovoked white male walked up behind Anderson and stabbed him in the neck before fleeing in a black Jeep Cherokee. When police tracked down the car, they attempted a traffic stop but Golitko took off, leading police on an eight-minute chase at a maximum speed of 50 mph.

The pursuit ended when officers used their cars to block the road ahead of Golitko's vehicle. He was apprehended and taken into custody.

Police soon learned that another 911 call from the area was placed a minute before the stabbing call. This call was from Golitko's mother, Valerie Henson, 48. She called to report that her son had battered her during an argument at home. She suffered a broken arm and got away by running to a neighbor's house.

After the attack on his mother, Golitko allegedly took a knife from his home and walked about 150 yards south to Nickel Plate Trail, where the stabbing took place. Police say he then returned home, where he destroyed items inside the housed and stabbed two dogs, killing one. He then fled in his mother's Jeep.

Police said they did not yet know a motive for the crime spree.

The police report said that Anderson was on the hiking trail with another male adult and two boys, ages 11 and 12, all of whom witnessed the murder. The group had planned a five-mile hike from Bunker Hill to Bennetts Switch. The Scouts, who were from Kokomo, Ind., had stopped on the trail to identify a tree when Golitko attacked. No one else was hurt.

Police say Anderson was the assistant Scout leader and had been involved with the Boy Scouts for more than 50 years.

Golitko is being held without bond at the Miami County Jail on a murder charge. He also faces two felony counts for battery causing serious bodily injury and battery by bodily waste. He allegedly spat at officers while being taken to jail.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rescued Boy Scouts in Arkansas Were Prepared

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(LANGLEY, Ark.) -- The Boy Scout motto is "Be prepared," and a group of Scouts from Louisiana was just that when they were stranded by high water at a campground in the Arkansas wilderness.

There was initially no reason to believe that anything was wrong when the six boys -- around age 14 -- and two adults arrived last Thursday at Albert Pike Recreation Area in Arkansas' Ouachita Mountains for a camping trip.

Showing their independence, the boys didn't contact their parents during their time in the woods.  However, when the group didn't return Monday as planned, the worried parents notified authorities.

A helicopter sent out at sunrise Tuesday located the group and rescue operations quickly got underway to transport the boys and their leaders to safety.

The campground was the same place where 20 people died in a flash flood last June 11.

However, the Scouts were prepared.  Because they knew enough to stay on high ground, they were never in danger.  None of the boys needed medical attention following their brief adventure.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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