To The Daily Sun,
I have thought about this topic for many years and tonight something happened that made me feel that I at least needed to share my concern with a larger population.
My children have been involved in some level of sports in this city their whole lives — LAYBL, LYSL, LMS, LHS, Shooters Gold, swimming, etc. They have also been involved in scouting with our local Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop 68. Every time either of them signed up for or made a team, I spoke with the coach about their scouting involvement and every time the coach was very understanding about the possibility of missing a game or having a shortened practice because a Scout meeting overlapped or an event was occurring at the same time. I don't recall either son ever being penalized for missing or cutting short a game or practice.
Currently 13 boys from Troop 68 are working extremely hard toward the adventure of a lifetime. In August 2017 these 13 boys and six adults will attend the BSA high adventure camp on Big Munson Island in Florida. Please don't be fooled that this will be a vacation. Boys and adults will arrive at Sea Base and be tested on their swimming abilities. If they pass, they will embark on a 5-plus mile ocean canoe trip to the island where they will reside for three nights — exploring, fishing, and snorkeling. They will return, on the same 5-plus mile course back to base and return home a day later.
In true Scout fashion, we are beginning to "Be Prepared" for this trip. In order to be prepared, the group needs to meet regularly to train and plan the trip details. Our first planning meeting is set to occur this week. I've sent emails with the date and time of the meeting, and to my surprise, I have had a few boys ask about missing the meeting because of practice for their current sport. It was mentioned by an adult that boys could be penalized for missing practice — perhaps not be played first or at all. This is the topic I have thought about for many years.
Is this really true? We penalize kids for trying to become well rounded members of society? We take something they love to do away from them because they are working hard for something they really want to experience? I can't imagine that this is actually true.
I think often about why Scouting, an amazing youth program, is dying in this country. I wonder if it would grow if we began to follow the policies of sports — if a boy misses a meeting, then he will not be able to rank or he will not be able to attend the next event/activity. I don't think I could continue as a leader if I had to penalize kids for doing great things.
Scouting encourages boys to be active and to stay physically fit. The Scouting program promotes and works to introduce most every sport. I can only hope that other youth programs — sports, music and theater — would encourage a boys interest in scouting, not diminish it.
I am asking our local coaches and sports associations to reconsider this penalization policy, if it is one that is in place. And if I am wrong, if there is no such policy in place, I apologize and ask that coaches let their team members know what the policy really is.
Troop Committee Chair
Troop 68, Laconia