Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent…

With the long and successful tradition of Boy Scouting in Pelican Rapids, many Troop 313 alumni were no doubt watching with interest the recent controversy at the National Jamboree.

President Donald Trump was invited to speak at national event–as presidents have over the decades. In a nutshell: President Trump accepted the invitation, and broke longstanding protocol by delivering messages that resembled a political rally. Past presidential speeches at the Scout Jamboree have been non-political, focusing more on the virtues and values of Scouting.

At the Pelican Rapids Press, we don’t often veer off into topics on the national and international stage. As a community newspaper, there is plenty of local news right here in Otter Tail County.

But I can’t help but shake my head in disgust at the president’s utter lack of the judgement, protocol and decorum we’ve come to expect from the office of the presidency. The Boy Scout speech was only one of dozens upon dozens of examples of the president’s lack of restraint–and frankly–common decency. As a former Scout myself, I find his conduct appalling.

For the Pelican Rapids area, Scouting has a deep tradition–which was celebrated over the past year, with the awarding of the 100th Pelican Eagle Scout award. In April, a Scout reunion was hosted in honor of the 100 Eagle Scouts. I don’t think Trump’s remarks appropriately reflect the Scouts that gathered in Pelican that weekend.

The National Boy Scouts of America issued an apology following President Trump’s speech, and we thought it appropriate to print edited excerpts here, considering the number of Pelican area individuals and families who have been touched by Scouting over the past century.

Scouting family,

Our 20th National Jamboree, with nearly 40,000 participants…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…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 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.

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.