A Scout is . . . Friendly, Courteous, Kind . . . Reverent: 100 years of Scouting

August 4, 2007

Scouts at the World Jamboree renew their oaths, Wednesday, August 1, 2007

  • Scouts from many nations renew their oaths, August 1, at Brownsea Island, off the south coast of England — the 30th World Jamboree of Scouting, marking the founding of Scouting 100 years ago. Photo by Ron Neal, AFP/Getty Images.

The rowdies who like to claim all shows of manners are just ‘wussy PC boojum’ got their knickers all atwist because Scouts at the 30th World Jamboree eat vegetarian.

Why not? It’s a World Jamboree. If the menu that best fits Scouts from 80 nations is vegetarian, why not? In the U.S., the fourth, fifth and sixth points of the Scout Law are “Friendly, Courteous, Kind.” If the menu offends a quarter of the Scouts, can they live up to those three points of the law? What about the twelfth point, which says a Scout is Reverent, especially to the religious views of others?

Here’s the post that set me off, at Innocent Bystanders.  (And here’s the same sort of bluster at a very Scout-unfriendly site — warning, site contains cheesecake NSFW.)

Here’s the news story from ThisIsLondon.com that probably inspired that post: “Scouts banned from eating burgers and bangers — because of religious belief.”

Here’s the AP story in the Bryan-College Station Eagle, in Texas, that notes the fire ban at the Jamboree:

LONDON – Scouts around the world celebrated the 100th anniversary of their movement Wednesday, but those at its birthplace couldn’t show off one of their fundamental skills – firebuilding.

While observances took place from the Kingdom of Bhutan to Ecuador, the symbolic focus was on Brownsea Island, off the coast of southern England. That’s the site where Robert Baden-Powell organized a camp for 20 boys that developed into the worldwide Scouting movement.

Baden-Powell, a lieutenant-general in the British army, organized that camp to teach boys outdoor skills and physical fitness. He detailed the experiences in a book called Scouting For Boys, and the movement gained footing when boys organized themselves into groups, persuaded adults to become their leaders and used Baden-Powell’s ideas as the basis for camps, treks and other activities.

Older girls were allowed to join during the 1970s. Membership was extended to all girls, ages 6 to 25, in 1991.

“When [Baden-Powell] first ran the camp, he brought together different social classes from public schools and less fortunate backgrounds,” said scout Jon Grimes, 19. “It was about crossing the social divide and making friends. Our camp this year will be about making friends between people from different cultures.”

But unlike Baden-Powell’s boys, today’s Scouts are banned from lighting campfires on Brownsea Island. The National Trust acquired the island in 1962 and forbids fires in order to protect the wildlife.

The campfire ban did not dampen the spirit of the 300 Scouts on Brownsea Island who celebrated the centennial canoeing, hiking, making pottery, learning archery and participating in workshops.

Our troop, Troop 355, didn’t send anyone to the World Jamboree, but five boys have already attained their Eagle rank this year — we had an Eagle Court of Honor this afternoon. Scouts devised several interesting ways to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Scouting, regardless of where they are:

Some centennial celebrations began as early as Saturday, when Prince William opened the 21st World Scout Jamboree, in eastern England, with 40,000 youngsters from more than 160 countries.

Scouts from around the world are taking part in events. About 1,000 Scouts are cooking a huge campfire breakfast in Namibia, and groups from all over Malawi will be camping at the top of Mulanje mountain, one of the highest peaks in Africa.

Scouting in the U.S. marks its centennial in 2010.

Other coverage:

Odd historical fact: Shortest term on the Supreme Court

August 4, 2007

Who served the shortest term as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court?

There is a clue in this famous cartoon by Thomas Nast (okay — the cartoon really gives it away, doesn’t it?):

Thomas Nast cartoon,

Watch for the answer in a future post.

Image: Thomas Nast cartoon from Harper’s Weekly, January 15, 1870. Nast’s use in cartoons greatly popularized the use of a donkey as a symbol of the Democratic Party, whose official animal mascot is a rooster. Image in public domain, this one from the Thomas Nast Portfolio of The Ohio State University.

Accuracy: A good bias (DDT again)

August 4, 2007

Jay Ambrose retired from editing newspapers, and now writes commentary for the Scripps News chain of papers. Because of his experience in editing, I was suprised to see his commentary from last week which takes broad, inaccurate swipes at environmental groups (here from the Evansville, Indiana, Courier & Press).

Ambrose is victim of the “DDT and Rachel Carson bad” hoax.

His column addresses bias in reporting, bias against Christians, which he claims he sees in reporting on issues of stem cell research, and bias “in favor” of environmentalists, which has resulted in a foolish reduction in the use of DDT. I don’t comment here on the stem cell controversy, though Ambrose’s cartoonish presentation of how federally-funded research works invites someone to correct its errors.

Relevant excerpts of Ambrose’s column appear below the fold, with my reply (which I have posted to the Scripps News editorial section, and in an earlier version, to the on-line version of the Evansville paper).

Read the rest of this entry »

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