Boy Scout chief: ‘Sorry’ about the politics

In the last few days, a number of people in the “comments” section of NewsCut have suggested that the Boy Scouts should have issued a response to President Trump’s speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree this week.

Today, it did.

Here’s the full statement from Michael Surbaugh, the chief Scout executive, issued today:

Scouting Family,

In the last two weeks, we have celebrated the best of Scouting at our 20th National Jamboree with nearly 40,000 participants, volunteers, staff and visitors. The 2017 National Jamboree has showcased and furthered the Scouting mission by combining adventure and leadership development to give youth life-changing experiences. Scouts from Alaska met Scouts from Alabama; Scouts from New Mexico met those from New York, and American youth met youth from 59 other countries.

Over the course of ten days, Scouts have taken part in adventures, learned new skills, made new and lasting friendships and completed over 200 community service projects that offered 100,000 hours of service to the community by young men and women eager to do the right thing for the right reasons.

These character-building experiences have not diminished in recent days at the jamboree – Scouts have continued to trade patches, climb rock walls, and share stories about the day’s adventures. But for our Scouting family at home not able to see these real moments of Scouting, we know the past few days have been overshadowed by the remarks offered by the President of the United States.

I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent. The invitation for the sitting U.S. President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters. We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.

While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day.

Trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and bravery are just a few of the admirable traits Scouts aspire to develop – in fact, they make up the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

As part of our program’s duty to country, we teach youth to become active citizens, to participate in their government, respect the variety of perspectives and to stand up for individual rights.

Few will argue the importance of teaching values and responsibility to our youth — not only right from wrong, but specific positive values such as fairness, courage, honor and respect for others.

For all of the adventure we provide youth such as hiking, camping and zip-lining, those activities actually serve as proven pathways and opportunities to develop leadership skills and become people of character.

In a time when differences seem to separate our country, we hope the true spirit of Scouting will empower our next generation of leaders to bring people together to do good in the world.

Yours in Scouting,


  • Postal Customer

    You gotta see Colbert’s bit on this incident.

  • MrE85

    Someone in Scouting gave Trump’s speech the green light. Whoever that was, saying “sorry” isn’t quite enough.

  • RBHolb

    “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended . . .” In other words, we did nothing wrong. Sorry you can’t take it.

    I notice there was no disapproval of the Scouts who booed the mention of President Obama.

  • Aaron

    This Eagle Scout has disagreed with a lot of the national organization’s policies over the years. But I think the incumbent president put them in a no-win scenario with his reckless and irresponsible speech.

    I was happy to see the statement issued today, but what heartened me more was the personal email I received back from the head of the BSA’s Northern Star Council (covering MN), after I emailed to express my disgust at this display. It was a gracious note that listened to and acknowledged my concerns, addressed the inappropriate nature of the president’s comments, and pledged to work through the speech with Scouts.

    If we can’t have an adult in the White House, at least there’s one running the Scouts in Minnesota.

    • Agreed. By all accounts, the Minnesota contingent of Scouts appear to be a group to be proud of.

  • AL287

    Hindsight is always 100% correct.

    There is hope on the horizon, however.

    The Republicans are finally getting some balls and standing up to the architect of American discontent.

    See Lindsay Graham’s comments on MPR’s News front page.

    • crystals

      I’m going to wait and see if comments ever turn to action. (And won’t hold my breath while I wait.)

    • // The Republicans are finally getting some balls and standing up to the architect of American discontent.

      You remember when all the Republicans disassociated themselves from Trump after the “grabbed her p****” remarks became public?

      then he won the nomination and they started to backtrack and said they were “troubled” and expected him to change to win their support.

      He didn’t change, they did.

      Graham has been the guy’s most vocal Republican critic, but none of those guys has stood up to him. Talk is cheap.

      Ironically, the Republican who has actually shown the balls — as you say — to do so, doesn’t actually have any.

      • AL287

        I said I was hopeful. I didn’t say it was going to happen.

        Just keep in mind what Susan Collins said when she thought the mikes were off.

        “I’m worried.”

        Trump needs to stop introducing major policy changes via Twitter (Transgenders in the military) that haven’t actually been decided yet.

        Trump is the leak in the White House and he has only himself to blame.

  • Al

    Makes me thankful I only have girls, and don’t have to deal with the Boy Scouts. Them Girl Scouts are AWESOME.

    • theoacme

      Especially the troop leaders of those homeless Girl Scouts in New York (as heard on MPR the other day)…the BSA should have invited that troop instead of the mere president…

  • kevins

    As an Eagle Scout, I don’t know how you invite a Prez to you meeting expecting to control or approve of his speech. That would be tactless and asking too much of the host. But BSA should have expected an adult, representing adult views and authority and all the citizens of this country, to act and speak like a thoughtful, mature and genuinely concerned expert. They failed at that, but anyone that blames the Scouts …well OK. It was our narcissistic, immature, perpetually lying President, you know, the person we elected, that is to blame, and solely him.

    One fellow in Moorhead gave his Eagle medal back to the local council recently in protest of Trump’s speech. I refuse to do so because this is on Trump, not the scouts. I only pray that the boys that were subjected to this understand that they just witnessed the grandiose blather of a sick man, and that our country is better than that. Much better.

  • Bonnie

    It’s Trump that should be apologizing.