Jim Zumbo - Everything Outdoors

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My Take on the Boy Scout Scandal

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People often ask how I became interested in the outdoors. I was raised in an inner city in New York State where cement and pavement were my playground. When I was a kid my parents would take me to a farm owned by friends. I spent most of my time outside pulling up grass for the cows and throwing it in the pasture, feeding ducks, geese and chickens, and watching the pigs as they wallowed in the mud.  I loved that place, and didn’t want to go back to the city when we had to leave.

The men in my family were hunters, and I have vivid memories of tagging along with my cousins as the adults hunted rabbits with beagle hounds. That was always a big treat and made a big impact on me.

But my real introduction to the outdoors was through scouting. My Dad was scoutmaster of Troop 6 at Sacred Heart Church, and his best buddies were assistant scoutmasters and merit badge counselors. Being the son of the scoutmaster wasn’t an advantage. In fact, it was the opposite. I guess the leaders didn’t want to be accused of being soft on me, so they made sure I dotted all the “i”s and crossed the “t”s.

Stamp US 1950 3c Boy Scouts of America

I went on many hikes with our troop, many of them day hikes to the shore of the Hudson River where we’d break out our light skillets and cook a meal. I also attended camporees where we’d join other local troops and camp out for the weekend. Then there was annual summer camp, a wonderful spot nestled deep in the Catskill Mountains. Several hundred scouts and adult leaders gathered for a week, enjoying great camaraderie where we’d swim in the lake, fish, canoe, and work on merit badges. I was a scoutmaster myself, as was my son, Dan. 

So now we hear that BSA (Boy Scouts of America) is bankrupt because of sexual abuse by some adult leaders. I see those TV ads by lowlife scumbag lawyers who urge every former scout who has been abused by adults to come forward and join this huge lawsuit. I get sick every time I see these ads. Let me say that I’m upset because the whole sorry issue paints scouting as a sordid organization with a broad brush. I believe that there’s some truth in the allegations, just as there have been pedophile issues with the clergy. 

What bothers me most is that I’ve never, ever, seen or heard of the slightest mention of anything sexual by the leaders. Scouting was a wholesome, wonderful experience that I dearly loved. I spent a good part of my life in scouting, formative years when I learned much about the outdoors as well as myself. It was scouting that convinced me that I needed to pursue a career as a game warden or forest ranger. 

Again, I’m not questioning the veracity of the issue, I just have a hard time believing it was as widespread as is claimed. I know, I’m very defensive about this. Can’t help it. I’ll continue to support scouting as much as I can. 

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