Local Boy Scouts attend Trump’s Speech at National Jamboree, leave with questions


Thomas Pierce

Scouts were able to do activities such as swimming, archery, and biking in the area.

Katie Earles, Co-Editor in Chief

Whistles, shouts and applause resounded from men and boys donning tan shirts with colorful patches and cargo pants. Excitement and anticipation filled the crowd on the sunny July day, and the two square miles were littered with rock climbing walls, ziplines, obstacle courses, and small tents that housed the thousands of visitors.

On July 28, a crowd of teenage boys and their fathers gathered around a large stage and erupted in cheer as a tan, blonde-haired man in a suit walked on the stage.

President Donald Trump spoke at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, a gathering that attracted around 50,000 people from across the nation.

“It was very exciting,” said Grady junior Thomas Pierce, a Boy Scout who attended the event. “Once [Trump] got on stage, the crowd went wild. People were cheering and shouting on their feet in support. Hey, I was too. I mean, you don’t see a president every day.”

President Trump’s speech was highly controversial. He not only talked about his presidential win from  2016, but he told a business story in attempts to inspire the young scouts.

“He talked about how to be successful,” Pierce said. “One of the best things he said was that the key thing to success is having momentum, and he told a story of a friend who got big in business but failed after he lost his momentum.”

While the message was seemingly positive, not everyone thought the speech was ethical for a group of young teenagers.

“He was glorifying the pursuit of material wealth and a luxury lifestyle, and he referenced things that were definitely inappropriate for young boys,” said Shana Bassett, mother of two scouts in the Grady cluster.

Although Trump’s speech focused on success in life and in business, he discussed politics including joking about firing a cabinet member and bashing the Affordable Care Act.

“I don’t think Trump showed the type of character that a president should have,” said junior Russell Kirkland who also attended the event. “He should have been much more considerate of the audience — which was not adults but kids. His speech didn’t address the scouts nearly as much as it should have; it was really more about politics.”

Boy Scouts of America is a nonpartisan, apolitical foundation, according to the organization. This concept seemed to be disregarded throughout Trump’s speech.

“The remarks about threatening to fire Republican cabinet member Tom Price in front of the kids lacked maturity and professionalism,” Bassett said. “It exploited a certain vulnerability on the part of a teen to be influenced by an adult in a powerful place and exploited an audience of kids and teenagers for his own ego. He promoted a set of values opposite to what scouting stands for.”

Going through his victories state by state and criticizing Hillary Clinton at the scouts’ Jamboree, Trump drew chants from the crowd such as “USA, USA!” and “We love Trump, We love Trump!” After asking the crowd if former President Barack Obama ever attended a jamboree, the large crowd resoundingly answered “No,” which turned into “Boo.” After the speech, an official from Boy Scouts of America apologized to those who were offended by the political rhetoric in his speech.

“I didn’t think they went far enough,” Bassett said. “[Boy Scouts of America] attempted to minimize the extent of what happened, and they didn’t acknowledge how inappropriate it really was. That could have been my child there.”

In accordance with the Boy Scout Code, a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.

“The ideals the Boy Scouts uphold include showing moral clarity and standing up against demagoguery from anyone, including the president,” Bassett said.

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