Along The Trail 6-11-15

7

Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘out doors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsman ship.

*

Sometimes I question myself as to why I even listen to or read the national news. More often than not, my blood pressures rises and the stories leave me scratching my head and wondering how we collectively have made it this far.

A recent news story profiling the Boy Scouts of America was one such story.

Now, I have nothing but respect for many of the folks that I know that went through scouting. I was a Cub Scout and a Webelo, but once I had reached the age of Boy Scouting, I veered more towards 4-H – most likely because there were girls involved – but that’s another story.

Some of the finest young men I know have been Boy Scouts and many of our current and future leaders have been Eagle Scouts, an extremely difficult honor to receive.

Back to the article on scouts.

The news story reported that the council that governs Boy Scouts had determined that the scouts would no longer allow the use of “squirt” guns at their functions due to the appearance it might give and the perception that scouting condones pointing and shooting guns at one another.

Really?

How could a national organization geared towards teen and pre-teen boys, that has over the years built its reputation of helping mold young men into upstanding citizens be so overly sensitive in today’s world of political correctness?

For years in my youth, I used to love reading stories in “Boys Life” magazine, the national publication for scouting. There were always stories of learning survival skills, fishing trips, camping and hiking and plinking with BB guns and archery.

If I remember correctly, there were even ads in the magazine from BB and pellet gun manufacturers; and now this same organization is banning brightly colored, plastic squirt guns because the message it might send?

Give me a break!

To the scouts’ credit, it still lists archery and shooting sports as part of its curriculum, but only under the strictest of supervision and guidelines.

It just saddens me that even an institution such as the BSA have fallen prey and caved in to today’s society that seems to want to demasculinize boys and young men. The scouts used to be a model for “boys being boys” and learning how to be men in the process.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case any longer.

Let me hop up on my soap box for a minute: Boys need to be boys if we as a country want them to become men.

There comes a point in a boy’s life when he needs to figure some things out and the only way to do that is by allowing him to do “boy” things. Boys need to wrestle around with one another, to tussle and, yes – maybe even fight. They need competition and – as unpopular as it might sound - boys will find a pecking order in their groups, whether it’s at school, on a sports team or even at church youth groups.

Boys need to be free to explore, to play in a creek, to get muddy, to throw rocks and ride bikes.

To whittle sticks.

Of course, I’m a firm believer in getting all kids, boys and girls involved in the outdoors, but that doesn’t just mean hunting and fishing. Get a boy into the woods, go hiking, go camping, teach them some woodsmanship, teach them some life skills that they can’t learn in a classroom or from a book. As a man and a father, I believe it’s of utmost importance to teach a boy life lessons, and for me, the woods, hunting and fishing was the best backdrop to do that in.

Teach a boy how to stack hay in a loft in mid-July; how to use a chain saw; how to shoot a gun safely; how to stand up to a bully; and how to open a door for a lady and say please and thank you and maybe, just maybe we will have some men capable of becoming leaders in our community and country.

- David Hewitt