On Monday 24 July 2017, President Donald J. Trump addressed the Boy Scouts of America at their Jamboree in West Virginia. The Boy Scouts, and really, all young people, deserved better from their President.
This is what they should have heard:
I am deeply honored to stand before members of the great American institution of the Boy Scouts of America. I did not have the pleasure of being a Scout when I was a young person, but you don’t have to be a Scout to know what an asset to our nation, and to the world, Scouting has been.
You are part of a great international felowship of young people. After you leave the Scouts, you may never pitch another tent, build another campfire, or tie another clove hitch. But you are part of a worldwide family, one whose values of thrift, industry, integrity, and service, are things which people can agree on–things which transcend nationality, political affiliation, religion, race, or economic status.
The Boy Scouts of America has, for over 100 years, trained young people for achievement–not just achievement which will benefit the individual, but achievement which will benefit communities, whether local or global. Look at the people who have made breakthroughs in science, industry, arts, government–among the luminaries, you will find people who spent at least a part of their younger years as Cubs, Webelos, and Scouts.
How does Scouting develop leaders? First, Scouts learn to obey legitimate authority. Unless your Mom is your den mother, or your Dad is your troop leader, you are with adults you can’t con into giving you your own way. Knowing you won’t always get your own way is one of the most important lessons you’ll ever learn. And you will never be able to exercise legitimate authority until you’ve learned to work under legitimate authority.
Second, you learn to work with other people to achieve things bigger than any of you could possibly do on your own. Whether it’s setting up camp for the night, or service projects like feeding hungry people in your communities, you figure out who is best for what tasks, and appreciate the contributions of the entire group which lead to successfully completed projects.
Third, you practice the habits of character which our world is so sorely in need of: thrift, honesty, loyalty, friendlienss, integrity. Friendliness doesn’t mean everyone is your friend. It means you treat everyone as your friend. You’d be surprised how many friends you have when you treat people as though they are already your friends.
You learn respect–for yourself, but more importantly, for others. You learn a person is not necessarily inferior because she or he is different from you. Respect leads to understanding others. And understanding other people–their needs, their struggles, their abilities, and their hopes–always makes the world a better place.
Young people are the hope of the future. You are the future. Your participation in the Boy Scouts of America is an important way to make sure you contribute to a bright, peaceful, prosperous future–for America and for the world.
The President of the United States is the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. And it is indeed an honor to stand before so many young people who embody the best of what the United States has been in the past, and will be in the future.
Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. I wish you the best for a safe, fun, and productive Jamboree.