My name is David Atchley and I'm the acting Commissioner for the BPSA US.

I got involved with the organization back in 2008 after leaving the Boy Scouts of America. I was Cubmaster/Den Leader for my oldest son's Pack at the time; and I had proposed a non-discriminatory policy just for our local Pack. Some were for it, some against; so I took the idea to the local St. Louis Area Council for feedback.

I was told, in no uncertain terms, that if we adopted such a policy they would revoke our charter.  I told them that was ridiculous and after a longer conversation about my long history in the BSA and the meaning of the Scout Law and Promise, I was told that, because I was an atheist, I wasn't the kind of adult leader the BSA was looking for - and to go and find another organization to be a part of.

I did just that. Getting involved with BPSA in 2008, the organization was primarily older Rover Scouts (18+ age) and no registered youth participating at that time. This sort of defeats the purpose of Scouting, which is primarily a youth program; and so I started my own local group in Missouri.  I served as acting Secretary for a while and then the organization went stagnant for a couple of years with no movement or growth at all. 

I took over as Commissioner in early 2010 with one clear goal in mind to preserve and push the organization forward - promote Scouting at the local level and get the youth involved.  There are a lot of people unhappy with the BSA policy but yet still want to do Scouting. There are girls and mothers involved with Girl Scouts that want to do more outdoor activities and learn Scoutcraft skills related to camping, orienteering, backpacking and the like. And there are Scouters, youth and adult, who would prefer a more back-to-basics, traditional style Scouting program compared to many of the modernized versions of Scouting in the US and other countries.

This is what BPSA aims to provide!  Our job is to inspire and encourage all those people mentioned above to get involved in our program, provide them with the necessary resources and training and promote traditional style Scouting at the local level.  

I hope to meet and talk with all our members as time goes on, and I always try to make myself available via phone, email and other means. So don't hesitate to contact me and get in touch!

Happy Scouting

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My name is Jeff Kopp (you can call me Kopper), I'm 47 and live in South St. Louis currently with my wife, Gina, and two sons, Miles (age 9) and Liam (age 2 1/2). Miles has had a great experience with Pack 214 in St. Louis as a Cub Scout the past two years, but as an atheist, I have had some issues with BSA's "Duty to God" religious requirements and, although I would have loved to have been more involved with BSA, I was well aware of their policy of excluding atheists/agnostics and homosexuals for leadership positions, so I declined to be a scout leader (I was asked a couple of times). When I learned recently of BSA reaffirming this policy (unanimously, no less), I decided I had had enough, and did a Web search for an alternative, and was thrilled when I found the BPSA website and even happier when I discovered that its commissioner was from the St. Louis area.

I have extensive experience with social networking, websites, WordPress, blogging, podcasting, graphic design/production, proofreading/copy editing... you name it. My day job is as a copy editor/proofreader and production artist for Phoenix Creative, a design/marketing agency located in downtown St. Louis, where I have worked for 12 years. I also run a social network for garage rock'n'roll called the GaragePunk Hideout that has over 7,500 members (including a podcast network and record label), and I also run a separate indy record label (TIRC Records) here in St. Louis, an informational site for the game of corkball (PlayCorkball.com), and am a former radio DJ at KDHX in St. Louis (I hosted The Wayback Machine for almost 11 years). You can read more about my hobbies & interests here. Yes, I have a lot on my plate, but I figure I can still contribute some time to BPSA as much as I can.

My name is Scott Hudson and I'm the current 1st Lone Scouts Rover Scout Leader for BPSA-US.

In 2007, when my son was almost to Cub Scout age, I started looking online for a Pack, hoping for something better than I had experienced as a youth. Well, I found all the negative press about BSA and then searched for an alternative. I didn't want to be in a position of explaining why we had joined an organization that would have excluded me for my non-religious beliefs. Nor, did I want to put him at risk of being kicked out for similar beliefs, if he developed them later in life.

We found Baden-Powell Scouting (now BPSA-US), and I soon was on my way to Miami for a Brownsea Training Class in the Everglades. The Chief Scout at the time was hosting the training and subsequently asked me to volunteer as HQ Secretary. Most of my time was spent finding and updating for our purposes a copy of the 1938 UK Boy Scouts PO&R's. The majority of BP Scouting's activities were online discussions about how to organize the Association. Only one actual Group existed, the 3rd Charter Oak Crew in Connecticut.

My son, Scotty, and I got uniforms, did some training on woodcraft, and volunteered when the opportunity arose. We attended a few BSA events where they were open to non-BSA members. First was an Astronomy Merit Badge Class at UT Arlington, where I work. We also talked our way into a week-long Cub Scout Day Camp a few blocks from our house, and had a great time while there. Our uniforms did get a lot of strange looks. We were the only ones wearing neckers, and I was in my kilt.

The next summer, we planned a Scouting adventure. We flew to Connecticut, where I was invested as a Rover Scout, and Scotty earned his Wolfcub First Star. We then took AmTrak to Washington, DC and spent several days seeing the sights while staying in the William Penn House on Capitol Hill. The train ride home from DC was via Chicago, and we had a sleeper this time, making it a much more comfortable journey. We spent most of our time playing Gin Rummy in the observation car, and passed Bill Clinton's boyhood home in Arkansas.

BP Scouting stagnated soon after BSA won a lawsuit in California, reaffirming their rights to the term Scout, etc. I was disheartened and resigned as Secretary, and started doing a lot of research on Seton's Woodcraft League. Eventually, Scotty and I decided to give BSA a try and started looking around for a Troop. We found one nearby sponsored by a fraternal organization and joined up. I even attended the first few meetings in BPSA uniform, and was welcomed without reservation. When I attended BSA's IOLS Training, I saw what Scouting could be. The ScoutMasters giving the training were traditionalists and the training harkened back to the way Scouting was back in the 50's and 60's. I was hooked again...

We soon transferred to a much better Troop, where the adult leaders were all very dedicated to providing a good experience for the boys. The Troop has been in existence for over 35 years and was a wonderful experience for the both of us. I became an Assistant ScoutMaster and Scotty started over as a Scout. We even went to Buffalo Trails Scout Camp in West Texas for summer camp and had a great time. Soon, though, I began to have reservations about adult-led Scouting. Even though both of the Troops we had joined espoused the boy-led Patrol method, neither of them actually did it except in a superficial manner. I did have the pleasure of seeing one Troop that was actually following the patrol method in summer camp, but they were the only one I've met, ever. They are from a small town in central Texas, I believe. Despite my best efforts to effect some change in our Troop, I eventually gave up and we have since left BSA. The money commitment required was never-ending, and our girls missed camping with us as well.

Seeing the results of David's efforts has inspired all of us to re-commit to BPSA and we are all now in the process of forming a mixed patrol of Lone Scouts, as time allows. At our last campout, we practiced archery, hiked a lot, did some Geocaching, and chose our Patrol animal (Honey Badger), Patrol flower(? - the girls idea: Texas Thistle), and our patrol colors (purple and green to match the thistle). Not too long ago, we also had the pleasure of assisting Texas Parks and Wildlife in promoting and demonstrating their Nat'l Archery in the Schools Program at the Texas Special Olympics, held here at UTA.

This coming October, we'll be hosting a Brownsea in the DFW area. Ya'll come on and sign up, now. Let's get this ball rolling...

 

Yours in Traditional Scouting,

Scott Hudson, RS

My name is Scott Moore. I'm from Maine, but currently live in Western New York. My dad and uncle were involved in scouting when they were younger (my uncle being an Eagle Scout with the BSA), but I opted to explore other interests in my youth. I have, however, always been interested in hiking, camping, nature, conservation, and everything outdoors. I have two sons now, both involved in Scouting, and became active due to their interest in it. After doing some research and learning about the historical Rover program, reading Scouting For Boys and Rovering To Success, discovering the BPSA, appreciating their non-discriminatory policies, and connecting with their commitment to community service, I became a life member.

As far as my current "Rover projects", I'm currently helping to compile the Rover's Handbook for the BPSA and, on the local level, I am the Scout Projects Coordinator for the Buffalo Central Terminal Restoration Corporation and have helped work with willing scouts (regardless of their group affiliation) on service projects involving restoring the terminal and beautifying the surrounding areas. I recently completed my Tenderfoot requirements, became invested as a Squire, and had the opportunity to visit some of our BPSC/Traditional Explorers Association of Canada brothers (and sisters) in Ontario when I was up there for business for a few weeks.

Yours in Scouting,

Scott Moore, Lone Rover Squire, 1st Lone Scout Group

Trying to keep the introduction thread going. 

My name is Kelly Mosier. I was born and raised in small town Nebraska and currently call Lincoln, NE home. Both of my older brothers were involved in scouting, reaching their Eagle before I was even old enough to get out of cub scoutS. I followed in their foot steps and my parents have always been very proud that all three of us attained the rank.

I love the outdoors, namely cycling, hiking and camping, and go into withdrawls if I don't get out to the Rocky Mountains at least once a year. I had always contemplated getting more involved with Scouting as an adult, but had never really thought about it until my son got closer to being old enough for scouting. He just turned five last spring, and I spent a good deal of the summer thinking about getting him involved in scouting. When the BSA announced their steadfast stance against inclusion I felt defeated. There was no way I was going to send my son through an organization that held such a public opinion about something I found totally wrong. When I stumbled onto the BPSA website I broke down.

And here I am, looking forward to getting myself back into scouting, and more importantly going through it all with my son, and eventually daughter.

I'm Ron Blaisdell. I was reared here in Michigan not too far from where I live now. I just relocated back to Michigan, after assuming the duties of the "eldest child" from my late sister. My mother and step-dad are here, and need some help from time-to-time, and making emergency trips from Orlando to Detroit was starting to wear on me.

I started in Scouting in 1967, and have been active ever since. I am an Eagle Scout and have served as a Cubmaster (3 years), Scoutmaster (7 years), and Commissioner (36 years). I attended a more traditional form of Woodbadge back in 1982, and have served on Woodbadge staff several times.

I am a member of the 1st Lone Rovers, and I basically help David around the HQ doing odds and ends as needed. I have a keen understanding of procedure and process (in my vocation, I have been a project manager since 1990). Insurance, Risk Management, and all the "ugly parts" of Scouting (so to speak).

I am working diligently to get the BPSA as the recognized program by the UU (Who dumped the BSA back in the mid-to-late 90s.) And what to encourage those who are looking to start a Group, to consider contacting their local UU congregation to serve as a sponsor. We have a program they would be interested in - and the more growth we have at the local level, the more the leadership of the UU will pay attention.

I'm all registered to attend Brownsea this September in Missouri (or as my mother's people say, "Mizzura") and am looking forward to the fellowship.

My daughter is nearly 17, and I hope she will become a Rover Squire soon.

Hi there! I'm Enna Grazier. My husband Matt and I have two young boys who are interested in scouting. We participated in Cub Scouts for the past year (after lengthy discussion and disagreement about how and whether we should allow our boys to participate, since we disagree with BSA policies). We had a great experience with BSA at the local level, but the national organization just doesn't sit right with us so we pulled out.

We're committed to getting a BPSA group up and running here - in fact we've registered the 12th Great Bay pack, which is exciting! We'll be working with a combined group of Otters and Timberwolves, until enough families join us to break into two groups.

Unfortunately my husband and I cannot attend Brownsea training camp, as we work weekends and we've been committed for those two weekends for over a year. However, we're confident that we can plow forward and get our pack going with our own boys and any other local interested folks. I hope that those who attend can share curriculum and pack meeting/activity ideas online for those of us who cannot make it!

Thank you!

Enna

Hi, all!

I'm in Austin, Texas, and have been diligently working to spread the word and raise interest/awareness in a BPSA group here. I'm planning to attend the October Brownsea training in the Dallas area.

By day, I work in public health communications. I've been a webmaster for about 15 years, and my academic/avocational background is in writing and visual art (specifically ceramics and printmaking).

I grew up in the Houston area where I was active in Girl Scouts from elementary school through high school, and I'm still close with almost all of the members of my troop to this day. We camped a lot when we were younger, but as we got older, we spent most of our time at the sailing camp since sailing was the activity that resonated the most with our group. This means that I have a good background in water safety and small craft, but I am definitely rusty.

About three years ago, I called up some friends who had expressed an interest in getting their kids (all born 2003-05) together in a traditional scouting program - hiking, orienteering, bush craft, camping, etc. - since those of us with sons had already considered BSA and opted out. Until I began searching for existing options ahead of our meeting, I'd never heard of BPSA. It seemed like the ideal solution, but I never managed to find out more about the only group I read about, in Ft. Worth, and while BPSA sounded appealing, it also seemed to our gathering of friends that we might want to try our hand at developing our own program since it looked like BPSA didn't have a way for us to easily plug in. Unfortunately, in spite of our best intentions, we never managed to get very far off the ground, though I definitely held on to my hope that we could either find or make something that would work for us and our principles.

Fast forward to a few days ago, and David replied to a post on Offbeat Mama where a writer had asked if there were inclusive alternatives to BSA. I'd mentioned Baden-Powell in the comment thread almost in passing - I had no idea that BPSA had been gathering steam in the years since the Ft. Worth group was granted a charter and I'd first read about them. I was thrilled! I came over and signed up almost immediately.

I'd love to see BPSA-US develop a strong, national (and international) program. I'd like to help work toward inclusion of kids with differences in ability, be that physical, cognitive, or developmental. My son, now 8, has ADHD, and we are opting not to medicate him but rather to attempt specific home and school interventions first, many of which have to do with activities that are the bread and butter of scouting (lots of time outdoors, high-energy activities, lots of physical activity). So the idea of inclusion is very personal to me, but I also know that there are folks who feel excluded from scouting in general terms because it doesn't seem like the right place for (for instance) a leader who uses a wheelchair. That's not all that I'm interested in, of course, but since we're introducing ourselves I thought I should mention it as I don't think it's a point that anyone has brought up yet.

wen

So, I've lurked around long enough, I suppose...

My name is Craig Hufford. Currently, I am the Scoutmaster for BSA Boy Scout Troop #501. I guess I've been struggling with BSA issues for a while, now. I'm not going to get into _everything_ in my introduction, but I suppose I will get into a few issues I've been  dealing with. 

I was first involved with the BSA as a youth member. I was a Cub Scout, earned my Arrow of Light, and then "crossed over" into Boy Scouts. For reasons that I will not get into, in this post, I quit after my second summer camp, sadly, at the rank of Second Class. And, yes, I regret not finding yet another troop and completing my Eagle, but it didn't happen. 

I got involved with the BSA, again, as an adult, when my oldest son, now 17, began his Scouting career as a Tiger Scout 11 years ago. I started first as an Assistant Cubmaster, after being told that the only time requirement was about "one hour a week," and having just completed my second term as Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, I had more than sufficient leadership skills. After half a year as Assistant Cubmaster, I found myself promoted to Cubmaster, a Position I held off and on for the next 10 years. I grew our Pack (First through Fifth graders) from 28 boys to 99. Things went very well for the first several years. I began my Wood Badge (Wood Beads) in the spring of 2004 (C-11-04), as a Cub leader. I could not believe how I was treated so differently by my patrol, as the only Cub leader among Boy Scout Leaders, as if I didn't have any scouting experience, though it was I that saved my patrol from setting out on a very long backpacking excursion that would have led us nowhere near the elusive campsite that existed only in the minds of my patrol mates! So... Maybe I rubbed it in just a little too much...

In the summer of 2004, I was the Camp Director for the Arnold, Missouri Cub Scout Adventure Day Camp, the largest in the district at approximately 280 boys. It was the last time the WEBELOS camped overnight during the last day of camp, as well (something they all looked forward to). I found my first disappointment when I asked "THE" money question at a Council Camp Director Training: "If you collect $55 from each family for Camp, and you provide a T-shirt and two small crafts, and then give us $5 per boy to run a week-long program, where does the money go?" I was told, in front of the group that the rest of the money went to pay for facilities and for insurance. Boy, you should have seen the council representative's face when I pointed out that all of our camps were held in no-charge public venues, and that the registration fees paid by all Scouts and Scouters covered the insurance (which is only secondary, anyway)... She was really upset when I referred to camp as a "fundraiser," but I have this way of not being able to keep my mouth shut, and calling things the way I see them. 

During the session that my oldest son attended week-long WEBELOS summer camp, a man collapsed during breakfast, suffering a fatal heart-attack. A physician, EMT, another Scouter, and I proceeded to give aid. After the dining hall was cleared, I asked the Boy Scout who identified himself as the medical director to get the AED. He advised they had none. I understand that the names of the four of us that provided aid were submitted by the Greater Saint Louis Area Council for a Heroism Award or Award of Merit, but my mouth got the better of me, again... I marched my happy heinie to the Scout Executive's office and proceeded to chew him for not having any AEDs on site. He chuckled, and advised me that if they installed an AED at Camp May, they would be obligated to install one at every camp they run... Well, you don't say. I had a few more words to say on the subject. I never got that award... Go figure!

Later, in the fall, my oldest boy started WEBELOS, and began the transition period between Cubs and Scouts. We went to several Boy Scout campouts and camp-o-rees with the troop that was also chartered to the school that our pack was chartered to. I was amazed, and not in a good way. The Boy Scouts referred to their scoutmaster as "Tom," and Tom actually cooked all of the meals. When I questioned him about this method, his reply was, "The first time you eat scorched eggs will be the last time you eat scorched eggs." Not being a huge fan of eggs, anyway, I retorted, "Shouldn't the boys cook their own? After all, the first time they eat scorched eggs will be the last time they eat them, right?" This experience, as well as others led me to say, "No," when Tom asked me to take the over the role of scoutmaster, as my son "crossed over" into Boy Scouts. Instead, my son and I joined what turned out to be the "flag ship" troop of the district. Sadly, Tom felt as though I turned my back on him. 

The new troop was ok. They did a lot, but still seemed to be missing something - most notably, neckers. During our second year at summer camp, I was getting ready for Mass an optional activity, I happened to split the seat of my official BSA trousers (which were, admittedly, quite worn, from years of use). So I changed into a nice pair of blue jeans, donned my Gilwell necker (as there was no unit necker), and beads. As soon as I exited my tent I was immediately taken to task for wearing my Wood Badge regalia without a full BSA uniform. I reminded this former scoutmaster that the uniforming policy of the BSA National Council is the BSA uniform shirt, troop necker (if any), and whatever other parts of a uniform the member may have. This man then took the opportunity at the afternoon assembly to take me to task in front of all of the Scouts, embarrassing my son. I also learned later that a phone call was made from one of the leaders at camp, to my wife, advising her that if her husband was going to be a part of Scouting, it was time to make an investment! This from the same unit in which nightly games of poker (for money - though it was only nickle, dime, and quarter), and cigar smoking occurred at all campouts!

While all of that was going on, I continued to work hard at the Pack level. In addition to taking a term as Committee Chairman, I was a Tiger Den Leader, and then sequentially, a Wolf, Bear, WEBELOS leader, and Pack Trainer. I also spent a number of years as a District Cub Scout Trainer. Before my term as a Cub Scout Leader ended, I had found a CD produced by the BSA that featured a number of B-P speeches, and the Grand Howl. It was my intention to start the tradition of the Grand Howl at our Pack Meetings.

In the BSA, Scouters can earn, or be presented with a variety of awards that are represented by small patches with square knots of various colors on backgrounds of various colors, that are worn above the left shirt pocket, similar to military ribbons. Several are offered for completing training and meeting various criteria in a variety of Cub Scouter positions, and some are worn indicating receipt of the Arrow Of Light, Eagle, Religious Awards, or other awards earned as a youth. The uniform police saw a variety of these knots on my uniform, and then tried to take me to task on this, stating that cub scout awards were not to be worn on a Boy Scout uniform. I thanked him for his concern, and advised him that the awards that he was referring to were Scouter Awards, that they were being worn on a Scouter uniform, not Cub or Boy Scout uniform, and invited him to present me with support for his claim in the official BSA "Insignia Guide." He then started in on my campaign hat, given to me by the widow of a good friend of ours (the price tag, $5, was still in the hat, when she gave it to me), and the BSA Universal Emblem (The eagle with shield superimposed on the Fluer De Lis with scroll and knot) on my hat, advising that it was the First Class emblem (and it is, but it is also the Universal Emblem, much the same as the Fluer De Lis with scroll and B P superimposed on the FDL is the Universal Emblem for the BPSA and sister organization), and asked me if I ever had been, or currently was a First Class Scout. I reminded him of the Universal Emblem, and carried on. However, these things do have a tendency to start to wear on you...

A few years ago, after a school classroom visit promotion, promoting the BSA's Cub Scouting program, I received a phone call from a rather upset mother, who advised me that I was lucky there were no other programs in town, such as Kawanas, Campfire, etc. (thank goodness she didn't know about BPSA!!!). She proceeded to tell me that she was quite familiar with the stance that the BSA takes on several issues, particularly on gays and lesbians. I assured her that these policies did not reflect the views of all of its members, and certainly not of my family, and that we ran a family friendly unit, and we would love to have her son, and family, including both moms, as a part of our program. However I did advise her that while we encouraged the participation of the entire family, we were prohibited from submitting an application for leadership for her, should she openly state that she does not meet all of the requirements. 

So, after a number of years of this, in 2009, I started a new, more traditional Boy Scout Troop, that sought after boys that were from families that did not have the financial means to enjoy scouting in a "typical" BSA troop. I chose the unit number, myself, "501." Anyone have any ideas why? 

The Greater Saint Louis Area Council was very supportive of me starting a new unit, and told me they were surprised it hadn't happened years earlier. We started our new troop at a church, where another troop had been, previously, and had folded, and merged with the troop that was chartered where my pack was. After surviving the first year, I was asked to become a Unit Commissioner for the district, and for a pack without a troop (how convenient)!

During a conversation in December of 2011 with the pastor of the church where we had placed our new troop, I learned that the former troop had liquidated all of their cash assets, and took the majority of their equipment (all of the workable stuff, anyway), and moved it to the other troop. This is a significant difference between the BSA and the BPSA. In an effort to shield themselves from lawsuits and judgment executions, the BSA requires that all units are directly chartered by an organization, and that just as the organization "owns" the unit, so too, the organization owns all of the unit's property. When I discussed this with the newly appointed District Commissioner, a friend, and the same person who appointed me as a unit commissioner, he responded by telling me that he was present for the vote, and that he voted to move all  the assets to the other troop, because, sometimes, it's just easier to with the flow... Funny how things turned from there...

My wife and I, having cycled another son through the Cub Scout program, who was ready to "cross-over" into Boy Scouts in May of 2011, were going to "retire" from the Cub Scout program, at that time. It was decided by the District Commissioner that I could not simultaneously hold the positions of Cubmaster and Scoutmaster of the units two different chartering organizations. In other words, I was seen as a threat to the troop where my pack was chartered, as they were afraid that the cubs in my pack would follow me to my troop... Of course, I had pretty much upset quite a few people, in that I had "turned my back" on the scoutmaster of the troop where my pack was registered. I "turned my back" on the "flag ship" troop of the district." I was successful in starting a new troop, where a highly respected scoutmaster couldn't keep an established troop." And, finally, I had called the District Commissioner out on nothing less than embezzlement! 

A secret meeting was held, and a replacement Cubmaster and Committee Chairman were put in place for my pack. The council representative told me we needed to talk about the direction the pack was heading, without telling me what had happened. When I suggested that we should have that conversation at the pack committee meeting, I was told, "that's not the appropriate venue for this discussion." It was pretty obvious as to what had just happened. That was in March, of 2011. They couldn't even wait until May. Of course, that wouldn't have been very scandalous, would it have been? We were told that since our son was still in the pack, we could still attend pack meetings, but that we were not to wear our uniforms. Funny... After all of that, my son's entire den (or six?) "crossed over" into my troop. The district camp-o-ree, that spring was being run by the troop chartered to the same school as my pack. There was a special award for the troop with the most new Scouts crossed over into Boy Scouts... They presented it to our troop! 

Anyway, there was an incident that occurred at summer camp in 2011, that has continued to affect us to this day, and has shown us the true underside of the BSA. Let's suffice it to say, at least for this post, that I got a personal phone call from the general counsel of the BSA National Council, earlier this spring, and criminal charges are being pursued (and not just against a volunteer leader, though that too, is occurring). I'm happy to tell more, but this really is not the venue, and I am getting tired of typing as I am sure you are of reading! I am happy to disclose all, privately (though, certainly a lot of it will hit the media outlets before too long). 

So with all this said, one might ask why I am even still involved in the program, at all. For one, I only found out about the BPSA a few months ago. Secondly, I do have the boys of Troop 501 to think about. Third, only the BSA has the coveted "Eagle." I know, I know, but this is a significant point, as it is this award only, not the GSUSA Gold, not the Campfire Wohelo Award is given so much significance by corporations and their HR departments, scholarship committees, and the United States Military. Most importantly, though, I remain involved because my middle son just made Order of the Arrow during summer camp, this summer, and is only days away from making Star. I also believe in the program of the BSA, and the boys that are in it. Though it is hard, I do make a distinction between the program, and the administrators. I do have a very Traditional, as in Traditional Scouting, troop, in as much as it can be within the confines of the BSA. I am always interested in program ideas and resources, and you are welcome to use mine, as well... our troop website can be found at troop501.net. 

However, I still have another son... He is currently four. He thinks he is a Scout, already, too! And, on the positive side, if I were to transition to the BPSA, I think that my entire troop would make the shift. Also, with the way the BSA does its charters, I'd be able to bring my current chartering organization, along, with all of the equipment that we have worked so hard to obtain...

Yours in Scouting,

-Craig

Ok, so maybe it's more of "When I transition over to BPSA," as opposed to, "If..." I'm not a big fan of change.

Craig- Wow, that's a lot. BSA has a great program and offers much to those who participate: Eagle rank OA etc. But, one could say that BSA, above the unit level, is arrogant. This comes from a lack of competition. BPSA can change that. -Bucky   

S. Craig Hufford said:

So, I've lurked around long enough, I suppose...

My name is Craig Hufford. Currently, I am the Scoutmaster for BSA Boy Scout Troop #501. I guess I've been struggling with BSA issues for a while, now. I'm not going to get into _everything_ in my introduction, but I suppose I will get into a few issues I've been  dealing with. 

I was first involved with the BSA as a youth member. I was a Cub Scout, earned my Arrow of Light, and then "crossed over" into Boy Scouts. For reasons that I will not get into, in this post, I quit after my second summer camp, sadly, at the rank of Second Class. And, yes, I regret not finding yet another troop and completing my Eagle, but it didn't happen. 

I got involved with the BSA, again, as an adult, when my oldest son, now 17, began his Scouting career as a Tiger Scout 11 years ago. I started first as an Assistant Cubmaster, after being told that the only time requirement was about "one hour a week," and having just completed my second term as Grand Knight for the Knights of Columbus, I had more than sufficient leadership skills. After half a year as Assistant Cubmaster, I found myself promoted to Cubmaster, a Position I held off and on for the next 10 years. I grew our Pack (First through Fifth graders) from 28 boys to 99. Things went very well for the first several years. I began my Wood Badge (Wood Beads) in the spring of 2004 (C-11-04), as a Cub leader. I could not believe how I was treated so differently by my patrol, as the only Cub leader among Boy Scout Leaders, as if I didn't have any scouting experience, though it was I that saved my patrol from setting out on a very long backpacking excursion that would have led us nowhere near the elusive campsite that existed only in the minds of my patrol mates! So... Maybe I rubbed it in just a little too much...

In the summer of 2004, I was the Camp Director for the Arnold, Missouri Cub Scout Adventure Day Camp, the largest in the district at approximately 280 boys. It was the last time the WEBELOS camped overnight during the last day of camp, as well (something they all looked forward to). I found my first disappointment when I asked "THE" money question at a Council Camp Director Training: "If you collect $55 from each family for Camp, and you provide a T-shirt and two small crafts, and then give us $5 per boy to run a week-long program, where does the money go?" I was told, in front of the group that the rest of the money went to pay for facilities and for insurance. Boy, you should have seen the council representative's face when I pointed out that all of our camps were held in no-charge public venues, and that the registration fees paid by all Scouts and Scouters covered the insurance (which is only secondary, anyway)... She was really upset when I referred to camp as a "fundraiser," but I have this way of not being able to keep my mouth shut, and calling things the way I see them. 

During the session that my oldest son attended week-long WEBELOS summer camp, a man collapsed during breakfast, suffering a fatal heart-attack. A physician, EMT, another Scouter, and I proceeded to give aid. After the dining hall was cleared, I asked the Boy Scout who identified himself as the medical director to get the AED. He advised they had none. I understand that the names of the four of us that provided aid were submitted by the Greater Saint Louis Area Council for a Heroism Award or Award of Merit, but my mouth got the better of me, again... I marched my happy heinie to the Scout Executive's office and proceeded to chew him for not having any AEDs on site. He chuckled, and advised me that if they installed an AED at Camp May, they would be obligated to install one at every camp they run... Well, you don't say. I had a few more words to say on the subject. I never got that award... Go figure!

Later, in the fall, my oldest boy started WEBELOS, and began the transition period between Cubs and Scouts. We went to several Boy Scout campouts and camp-o-rees with the troop that was also chartered to the school that our pack was chartered to. I was amazed, and not in a good way. The Boy Scouts referred to their scoutmaster as "Tom," and Tom actually cooked all of the meals. When I questioned him about this method, his reply was, "The first time you eat scorched eggs will be the last time you eat scorched eggs." Not being a huge fan of eggs, anyway, I retorted, "Shouldn't the boys cook their own? After all, the first time they eat scorched eggs will be the last time they eat them, right?" This experience, as well as others led me to say, "No," when Tom asked me to take the over the role of scoutmaster, as my son "crossed over" into Boy Scouts. Instead, my son and I joined what turned out to be the "flag ship" troop of the district. Sadly, Tom felt as though I turned my back on him. 

The new troop was ok. They did a lot, but still seemed to be missing something - most notably, neckers. During our second year at summer camp, I was getting ready for Mass an optional activity, I happened to split the seat of my official BSA trousers (which were, admittedly, quite worn, from years of use). So I changed into a nice pair of blue jeans, donned my Gilwell necker (as there was no unit necker), and beads. As soon as I exited my tent I was immediately taken to task for wearing my Wood Badge regalia without a full BSA uniform. I reminded this former scoutmaster that the uniforming policy of the BSA National Council is the BSA uniform shirt, troop necker (if any), and whatever other parts of a uniform the member may have. This man then took the opportunity at the afternoon assembly to take me to task in front of all of the Scouts, embarrassing my son. I also learned later that a phone call was made from one of the leaders at camp, to my wife, advising her that if her husband was going to be a part of Scouting, it was time to make an investment! This from the same unit in which nightly games of poker (for money - though it was only nickle, dime, and quarter), and cigar smoking occurred at all campouts!

While all of that was going on, I continued to work hard at the Pack level. In addition to taking a term as Committee Chairman, I was a Tiger Den Leader, and then sequentially, a Wolf, Bear, WEBELOS leader, and Pack Trainer. I also spent a number of years as a District Cub Scout Trainer. Before my term as a Cub Scout Leader ended, I had found a CD produced by the BSA that featured a number of B-P speeches, and the Grand Howl. It was my intention to start the tradition of the Grand Howl at our Pack Meetings.

In the BSA, Scouters can earn, or be presented with a variety of awards that are represented by small patches with square knots of various colors on backgrounds of various colors, that are worn above the left shirt pocket, similar to military ribbons. Several are offered for completing training and meeting various criteria in a variety of Cub Scouter positions, and some are worn indicating receipt of the Arrow Of Light, Eagle, Religious Awards, or other awards earned as a youth. The uniform police saw a variety of these knots on my uniform, and then tried to take me to task on this, stating that cub scout awards were not to be worn on a Boy Scout uniform. I thanked him for his concern, and advised him that the awards that he was referring to were Scouter Awards, that they were being worn on a Scouter uniform, not Cub or Boy Scout uniform, and invited him to present me with support for his claim in the official BSA "Insignia Guide." He then started in on my campaign hat, given to me by the widow of a good friend of ours (the price tag, $5, was still in the hat, when she gave it to me), and the BSA Universal Emblem (The eagle with shield superimposed on the Fluer De Lis with scroll and knot) on my hat, advising that it was the First Class emblem (and it is, but it is also the Universal Emblem, much the same as the Fluer De Lis with scroll and B P superimposed on the FDL is the Universal Emblem for the BPSA and sister organization), and asked me if I ever had been, or currently was a First Class Scout. I reminded him of the Universal Emblem, and carried on. However, these things do have a tendency to start to wear on you...

A few years ago, after a school classroom visit promotion, promoting the BSA's Cub Scouting program, I received a phone call from a rather upset mother, who advised me that I was lucky there were no other programs in town, such as Kawanas, Campfire, etc. (thank goodness she didn't know about BPSA!!!). She proceeded to tell me that she was quite familiar with the stance that the BSA takes on several issues, particularly on gays and lesbians. I assured her that these policies did not reflect the views of all of its members, and certainly not of my family, and that we ran a family friendly unit, and we would love to have her son, and family, including both moms, as a part of our program. However I did advise her that while we encouraged the participation of the entire family, we were prohibited from submitting an application for leadership for her, should she openly state that she does not meet all of the requirements. 

So, after a number of years of this, in 2009, I started a new, more traditional Boy Scout Troop, that sought after boys that were from families that did not have the financial means to enjoy scouting in a "typical" BSA troop. I chose the unit number, myself, "501." Anyone have any ideas why? 

The Greater Saint Louis Area Council was very supportive of me starting a new unit, and told me they were surprised it hadn't happened years earlier. We started our new troop at a church, where another troop had been, previously, and had folded, and merged with the troop that was chartered where my pack was. After surviving the first year, I was asked to become a Unit Commissioner for the district, and for a pack without a troop (how convenient)!

During a conversation in December of 2011 with the pastor of the church where we had placed our new troop, I learned that the former troop had liquidated all of their cash assets, and took the majority of their equipment (all of the workable stuff, anyway), and moved it to the other troop. This is a significant difference between the BSA and the BPSA. In an effort to shield themselves from lawsuits and judgment executions, the BSA requires that all units are directly chartered by an organization, and that just as the organization "owns" the unit, so too, the organization owns all of the unit's property. When I discussed this with the newly appointed District Commissioner, a friend, and the same person who appointed me as a unit commissioner, he responded by telling me that he was present for the vote, and that he voted to move all  the assets to the other troop, because, sometimes, it's just easier to with the flow... Funny how things turned from there...

My wife and I, having cycled another son through the Cub Scout program, who was ready to "cross-over" into Boy Scouts in May of 2011, were going to "retire" from the Cub Scout program, at that time. It was decided by the District Commissioner that I could not simultaneously hold the positions of Cubmaster and Scoutmaster of the units two different chartering organizations. In other words, I was seen as a threat to the troop where my pack was chartered, as they were afraid that the cubs in my pack would follow me to my troop... Of course, I had pretty much upset quite a few people, in that I had "turned my back" on the scoutmaster of the troop where my pack was registered. I "turned my back" on the "flag ship" troop of the district." I was successful in starting a new troop, where a highly respected scoutmaster couldn't keep an established troop." And, finally, I had called the District Commissioner out on nothing less than embezzlement! 

A secret meeting was held, and a replacement Cubmaster and Committee Chairman were put in place for my pack. The council representative told me we needed to talk about the direction the pack was heading, without telling me what had happened. When I suggested that we should have that conversation at the pack committee meeting, I was told, "that's not the appropriate venue for this discussion." It was pretty obvious as to what had just happened. That was in March, of 2011. They couldn't even wait until May. Of course, that wouldn't have been very scandalous, would it have been? We were told that since our son was still in the pack, we could still attend pack meetings, but that we were not to wear our uniforms. Funny... After all of that, my son's entire den (or six?) "crossed over" into my troop. The district camp-o-ree, that spring was being run by the troop chartered to the same school as my pack. There was a special award for the troop with the most new Scouts crossed over into Boy Scouts... They presented it to our troop! 

Anyway, there was an incident that occurred at summer camp in 2011, that has continued to affect us to this day, and has shown us the true underside of the BSA. Let's suffice it to say, at least for this post, that I got a personal phone call from the general counsel of the BSA National Council, earlier this spring, and criminal charges are being pursued (and not just against a volunteer leader, though that too, is occurring). I'm happy to tell more, but this really is not the venue, and I am getting tired of typing as I am sure you are of reading! I am happy to disclose all, privately (though, certainly a lot of it will hit the media outlets before too long). 

So with all this said, one might ask why I am even still involved in the program, at all. For one, I only found out about the BPSA a few months ago. Secondly, I do have the boys of Troop 501 to think about. Third, only the BSA has the coveted "Eagle." I know, I know, but this is a significant point, as it is this award only, not the GSUSA Gold, not the Campfire Wohelo Award is given so much significance by corporations and their HR departments, scholarship committees, and the United States Military. Most importantly, though, I remain involved because my middle son just made Order of the Arrow during summer camp, this summer, and is only days away from making Star. I also believe in the program of the BSA, and the boys that are in it. Though it is hard, I do make a distinction between the program, and the administrators. I do have a very Traditional, as in Traditional Scouting, troop, in as much as it can be within the confines of the BSA. I am always interested in program ideas and resources, and you are welcome to use mine, as well... our troop website can be found at troop501.net. 

However, I still have another son... He is currently four. He thinks he is a Scout, already, too! And, on the positive side, if I were to transition to the BPSA, I think that my entire troop would make the shift. Also, with the way the BSA does its charters, I'd be able to bring my current chartering organization, along, with all of the equipment that we have worked so hard to obtain...

Yours in Scouting,

-Craig

Ok, so maybe it's more of "When I transition over to BPSA," as opposed to, "If..." I'm not a big fan of change.

Craig-

In my experience, BSA has let itself be swept up in the culture wars. Its unit leadership has always leaned right because of the military's influence. That's not so bad. But when the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church feel as tho' BSA is a place where they can take a moral stand to push back against the tidal wave of equal rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters, the resulting effect is ultimate disaster for an otherwise great organization. Every time we expel a Cubmaster for being a lesbian, the headlines make us look stupid, foolish and homophobic to an increasingly tolerant population. The US is not returning to the 50's. The forty year decline in membership will continue. Organizations like BPSA will carve off the progressives and all that will remain will be the shell of a once proud and relevant organization. Very sad. But the conservative 'Big Three', the military, the Mormons and the Catholics have brought this on themselves - and they aren't dealing with it very well. -B       

S. Craig Hufford said:

Bucky,

I think that is _exactly_ the problem! The volunteers that run the program, and truly care for it, are the ones making it work, and have made the program what it is. However, the paid staff, the administrators of the "brand-name," if you will, have gotten a little big for their britches! I have learned a lot in, and about the BSA, in my last 12 years as a Scouter. But, this is what happens when you run a program as a sales business, instead of a youth education program. They do not like to have volunteers up in the administrative offices of the Council office. If you have a meeting, they try to schedule a conference room, or a meeting elsewhere. The last time I was in the office area of the district executives, I noticed that each of the cubicles had a bookcase, or cupboard used as a bookcase. What really surprised me (at first), as that there was not a single book about Scouting, Scoutcraft, Leadership, or anything of the like. However, there were tons of books on sales, and lead development. Yes, it all made perfect sense. The Chief Scout of the BSA is the third highest paid Non-Profit president/CEO in the Nation, according to 2009 records from the IRS, with an annual compensation package worth nearly 3 million (yes, with an "M") dollars! This is something that the organization has to protect. And, they will protect it, at all costs, sadly, as I have learned. Why do you think that they exclude certain classes of people? Might it be that these particular classes are those that are more vocal about inequity, or maybe, even more litigious? This is only anecdotal, and I have no basis for these assumptions, just noting a personal observation. These preservation tactics are woven throughout the organization, from the chartering process, claiming that each individual council is its own entity, and that employees thereof can not be held accountable by the national council (this is a fun one that we are grappling with, right now), to copyrighting the term "Scout." 

But, there is a way to beat them at their own game: Offer a better program, at a better price; Be fair in how you operate; Live by the Scout Law (including all administrative and leadership staff); Eliminate as much overhead as you can. For those who may be more of an activist, perhaps calls upon the United Way to drop support for the BSA, for their discriminatory and exclusion practices would be in order...

My marriage and family have suffered quite a bit from the BSA's latest escapades with us. My wife has a hard time separating the program from the administration. Fortunately, she sees what we do for our boys, and is willing to help, at times. Which in, and of itself, is pretty sad, as she was even more involved in the district leadership, than I was.

All of that being said, I don't want to see the BSA go down the tubes. I would like to see it either change, or go down the tubes, in the sense that we know it, today. I would love to see the program continue, side-by-side with the BPSA. But I also agree that they need to be knocked down a few pegs, and reminded of why they even exist. It would be great to have two programs that are similar, yet separate, that work in cooperation with each other, in the future. I can tell you that they are making some significant changes in that they are consolidating all program oaths and laws to the Boy Scout Oath and Law. They are also starting a Lion program in Cub Scouting, going after the kindergartners (or 5 year-olds). Is this in answer to the Otter program? If so, let's give 'em more to answer to!!!

Ok, my introduction wasn't meant to bash another program, but to give you some history on me. So administrators, please feel free to move this thread to a more appropriate forum...

-Craig


Bucky Mitchell said:

Craig- Wow, that's a lot. BSA has a great program and offers much to those who participate: Eagle rank OA etc. But, one could say that BSA, above the unit level, is arrogant. This comes from a lack of competition. BPSA can change that. -Bucky

My Brothers --

Let us not use this forum to "bash" the BSA. I remind you all of the 5th point of the Scout Law - "A Scout is Courteous"

Let us use this forum for introductions - and how we plan on helping the BPSA move forward.

We all have stories to tell, and they can be saved for a campfire elsewhere. Let us put our best foot forward. 

I agree with @Ron here. While we all have our own opinions and reasons for coming to BPSA and our own experiences with BSA Scouting, we don't need to use this forum for bad mouthing the BSA or any other Scouting organization.  Though we may or may not agree with their policies, they are still (their members) our brothers and sisters in Scouting. So, as Ron said, keep in mind that "A Scout is Courteous" and the 4th point, "A Scout is friend to all, and a brother/sister to every other Scout."

Let's use these forums for discussing the BPSA program, and this thread for introductions.  It's a focus on the positive aspects of the BPSA and our program that will be the most fruitful in discussions on this site.

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