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Bezos mentions ‘Scout troops’ in letter to Washington Post employees

Everyday Americans care about the Boy Scouts of America. You know it, I know it, and, as it turns out, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos knows it.

Bezos made headlines yesterday when he bought The Washington Post for $250 million.

But what you might not have seen was this letter from Bezos to employees of The Post. In it, Bezos explains that “the values of The Post do not need changing.”

Among those values: newspaper readers, who care about Scouts troops, among other important elements of their community. Bezos writes:

Our touchstone will be readers, understanding what they care about — government, local leaders, restaurant openings, Scout troops, businesses, charities, governors, sports — and working backwards from there.

True, it’s just two words of a few hundred. But I’m heartened to see a powerful American innovator recognizing that the Boy Scouts of America is an essential thread in the fabric of our nation.


Bezos stock photo from Flickr:  Some rights reserved by Mathieu Thouvenin

H/T: Thanks to my good Scouting friend CJ Nusbaum for the story tip

32 Comments on Bezos mentions ‘Scout troops’ in letter to Washington Post employees

  1. Bezos explains that “the values of The Post do not need changing.” I think that’s what makes Scouting strong. Staying true to our values and not changing the program, in other words, not changing what it means to be a Boy Scout or an Eagle Scout.

  2. Unfortunately the scouts have moved to the left by issuing the latest membership change. I would hope the Washington Post could move more to the right under the new ownership.

    • Yeah, it’s just such a shame that they decided to include a few more people into the club, inclusion for your fellow man is such a terrible thing. Just because a teenager is gay doesn’t mean they don’t need help learning lessons and values that the boy scouts teach, that help you so much later in life, and the truly godly thing to do would be to help everyone you can. Jesus would let the gay kids come, so I think you should ask yourself “what would Jesus do?” so you can realize how different it is from what you want to do. If you strive to live by the teachings of Jesus Christ you’d do well to remember that he sat with leppers and whores, he didn’t turn away the people who needed his help, and you shouldn’t either, nor should the boy scouts. I’m proud of them for their change of heart.

    • As a scout leader, I find the entire sexual orientation issue completely unnecessary. The BSA has a strong Youth Protection Program with policies in place to protect the youth as well as leaders from finding themselves in inappropriate situations. With that said, I have never found a legitimate reason to discuss sex with a scout other than in the youth protection training the we provide our troop, and certainly would never ask or expect a scout to profess his/her orientation to me as that would be highly inappropriate.

  3. Mack McKee // August 6, 2013 at 8:29 am // Reply

    And yet it is corporate shills like Bezos, who reportedly gave $2.5M of his own money to promote the pro-gay marriage law in Washington state, that are responsible for the most significant change in Scouting’s values in recent memory. How confident are you that Bezos’ idea of “traditional values” is anything like the mainstream BSA family’s values? Count me as skeptical…

    • Well said. Does traditional values mean the same thing as liberal values? I guess Webster will have to change as well.

      • Scouters, I wasn’t meaning to make this about politics at all. Let’s look at this as a good sign for all Scouting organizations that they’ll still have a good home in this (and presumably other) newspapers.

        • Bryan I know you have to speak the party line for the BSA but you don’t have to say that scouting is holding on to traditional values since the change in the membership policy is not traditional.

        • Bryan, You should not feel like you have to apologize for anything, you reported relevant news. Everyone will have different opinions about it, and THAT is the heart of the discussion, different is not inherently bad!

          Some think the change in membership policy goes against Scouting’s Values. I think many people are confusing Scouting’s Values and those of their specific faiths. While a Scout is reverent, there are 11 other points to the Scout Law, you know, OUR VALUES! Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Brave are some that come to mind on this matter…

          In my opinion I think the policy change moved us closer to Scouts values!

  4. He said “Scout Troops”, Not BSA or Boy Scouts, so let’s not be self-centered. Our friends IN GSUSA, Camp Fire, American Heritage girls and the other scouting groups do good work too!

    As to the folks who continue to bemoan the policy change, get over it. Life is change some good, some bad, let’s deal with it and focus on how we will continue to deliver an excellent program to our Scouts.

    • Great point, Adam. Thanks for adding that.

    • No Adam you miss the point. We had a Supreme Court ruling and the liberals wouldn’t get over it. There are some things in life that are too important and worth fighting for. Protecting children from decadence is one of them.

      • Bryan – up front I apologize for the long reply and I understand if you delete this thread. I hope you do not.

        Keith,

        Your saying the liberals won’t get over it, but it seems that it is you who won’t get over it.

        Only a few comments up from this one I said “As to the folks who continue to bemoan the policy change, get over it. Life is change some good, some bad, let’s deal with it and focus on how we will continue to deliver an excellent program to our Scouts.”

        It is time to “get over it”.

        You say “they” would not get over it, they did what any American has the right to do, they voted with their money and their feet; they used their right to free speech and they caused change as a result. The time to support your values was before hand by making financial contributions to offset what was lost. To make a more compelling argument then theirs. Calling them Decadent is not an argument, it’s smoke and mirrors.

        I am not sure why you think gay youth are “decadent”, whatever their orientation, teenagers are at a pretty rough time of life, they all need friends and a safe place. If co-ed Venture Crews can survive the risk of sexual attraction, I think Troops & crews will do just fine. Like hetero sexual scouts, these youth are people, they have self control. And if they cannot control themselves, straight or gay, that is grounds for dismissal from the BSA. Seeing as Adultery (hetero sex outside of marriage I do not understand why you do not consider Venturing decadent. Or do you consider them “less equal” then us, undeserving of civil rights and the dignity and love every single one of Gods creatures is worthy of?

        I tell you know, I don’t understand homo sexuality and how one becomes or decides they are gay. I think it has to be pretty deep rooted as I cannot imagine someone casually deciding to love the same gender in the face of bigotry, hatred and violence that they face. To be so true to themselves to me demonstrates Bravery.

        I would rather see a loving gay couple who are stable and contributing members of my neighborhood. Then the heterosexual town drunks, each on their second or thrid marriage, in their run down home, neglecting their children and spewing ignorance and hate. But hey, I am kind of silly like that ;) I know which couple I am protecting my kids from.

        Bottom line, worry about your Scouts, consider them non-sexual entities and turn them into good people, their color, their bank account, their church and their sexual orientation should not matter. Live the Oath and Law, and they will too!

    • And yet again, those that refused to “get over it” several years ago following the SCOTUS decision and continued to actively and vocally campaign for a change they believed in (but was not at the time supported by the organization) demonstrate their blatant hypocrisy by telling those with a differing opinion and set of personal (and not necessarily faith-driven) values to stop complaining and support the latest change. How droll.

      • You wouldn’t happen to be Clarke Green incognito, would you?

  5. Gary Wilson // August 6, 2013 at 8:44 am // Reply

    Scouting has always been apolitical since it’s founding. Those who want to use it for political purposes and characterize it’s pretty middle of the road positions as either moving to the left or right just don’t get that its the kids that come first, not the political value of an implied endorsement by an organization ranked right up there with Mom and Apple Pie.

    I realize that politics has seemly become less “Scoutlike” lately with it’s take no prisoners approach on either side, but perhaps compromise and finding common ground as Scouting teaches us, instead of demonizing one’s opponents, should be learned by the rest of the country.

    • Yeah, I think most of the scout leaders forget most of the lines of the scout oath and motto, only remembering a few specific lines, the same way they read the Bible, and then criticize the company for caring about children regardless of what orientation they have, as if that was any of their business anyway. I thought as well that the main purpose was helping kids succeed in life on a good path. And here people are wanting to turn some kids away for something the kids don’t even fully understand yet. Sad.

  6. I hope Mr. Bezos is able to find a way to correctly market and save a dying industry. Print journalism is still a valid and viable medium, and the hard work that those staffs put into the work that they do, only benefits us.

    Any person that believes that the membership policy change moved Scouting “to the left” needs to reevaluate their definition about this program being for the boys. It is for all boys. Period.

    • I had the same exact thought about one of the people who revolutionized the electronic book buying a printed news paper, I am wondering if this is his foray into truly moving printed news into the electronic arena full force, or if he will revitalize the print industry somehow. Either way I am excited to see what he might do.

      And yes, Boy Scouts for the boys, it is amazing to note how many of the boys see this matter as a non-issue.

  7. Just to change the subject a tad. Several folks in this thread have said the scouting is for all boys. Maybe you should say the “for all boys except when it comes to the Jamboree. Because the scouts that were over weight were not allowed to participate. BSA needs to review that policy for the next Jamboree and come up with programs that will be all inclusive for all scouts.

    • BSA instituted weight policies 2 or 3 years ago for high adventure bases, not just for jamboree, and they were announced prominently in Scouting Magazine. The bottom line is that the health of the boy has to come first, and an obese kid is put in danger in those strenuous situations. Inclusive has nothing to do with it (and it’s a laughable phrase for you to use after your anti-gay rants).
      The jamborees are scheduled 3-4 years in advance, anyone and everyone who wanted to go had a lonnnng time to work out their fitness issues. You’ve got 4 years til the next one, hit the track.

    • Pets, speaking as a staffer who attended Jamboree near the upper edge of the BMI limits – it would be a tough task for someone over those limits to have a whole lot of fun at SBR. The terrain is ‘rolling’ and there is a lot of walking to get to anything. For those coming from sea level, there is also elevation gain. For those of us from dry climates, humidity was a factor.

      Saying that “scouts that were over weight were not allowed to participate” is also misleading – the BMI limits were set pretty liberally (definitely past “over weight”) and were set with good reason. Physically strong is part of the oath as well and a part that was essential in this environment. I will not be going on a Philmont Trek. I know that I do not have the strength or fitness to do that. Likewise, not all Scouts are fit enough for Jamborees at SBR. There are lots of other Scouting activities open to them (where they will be able to have fun rather than being miserable trying to hike the 10 miles a day at 100 degree plus heat index that Jamboree participants faced).

      • I should clarify – I was not miserable at Jambo (most of the time! ;) ), but it was certainly a physically demanding environment and would not have been enjoyable for a participant who was morbidly obese.

    • Of course, unlike the orientation issue, you can lose weight. I say this as a rather overweight middle aged man who knows full well he needs to change and that a rule like this is in place to protect my life. Our Scouts are smart enough to understand this also.

  8. My brother served on staff at the jamboree. He agrees with the BMI rule. The summit is an amazing site. He stated that unlike Fort AP Hill, where you “walked” quite a bit, the Summit you needed to”hike” everywhere. It was much more intensive on the body. It is not a flat area with many open fields. It is a rugged terrain. He was over 300 lbs several years ago but has lost over 100 lbs. I am anticipating going with my son in four years. I am working on losing at least 30 lbs before I go.

  9. When I made my initial comment, I was not making a political statement and did not mean to slight any other scout program.

    As far as weight restrictions, there apparently were problems at past jamborees (especially 2005). I did not go this most recent jamboree, but everyone who went said that it required lots of walking, and it was at times tiring, so I understand those restrictions.

    I may not agree with all of the decisions that BSA might make, but the program is about the YOUTH. You may find your scouts either don’t care about the membership change or are more accepting of it than you think.

    BSA is an asexual organization. We prefer scouts to deal with those kinds of issues with parents or guardians. We don’t teach the facts of life. In this society, it may be best to continue that way.

    • Michael, sorry was not pointing fingers, just wanted to remind us all, because my first examples was also “YAY BSA” :)

      And spot on, Scouting is about the youth!

  10. Kelly Horton // August 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm // Reply

    If a person does not like the BSA membership requirements, there are other options out there like Royal Rangers, Boys Brigade, Royal Ambassadors, Faith Based Boys, and Eagle Boy Troop. People vote with their feet.

  11. Todd Hailey // August 7, 2013 at 4:30 am // Reply

    Please stop sending me emails.

    Sent from my iPad

  12. VA Scoutmaster // August 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm // Reply

    It is great to see Scouting cited by a successful person as representative of values important to the community. However, while I do not mean for this to be a political statement, I do find his notion of values vis-a-vis the Post to be disconcerting, given the treatment that the Washington Post has given Scouting.

    Bezos states “the values of The Post do not need changing.” That alone is telling and strongly suggests that he is out of touch with the values of Scouting. The Post has been criticized for it’s left-wing bias in both its reporting and editorials since the 60′s (J. Edgar Hoover famously compared it to The Daily Worker). More recently, the Post had a reporter who received a Pulitzer Prize for a story that was later determined to be fabricated (the Pulitzer Prize was returned). Within the past decade, the Post let go a host of senior editors and staff to save money and concurrently left behind all pretense of being an objective news outlet. Perverting ones values, after all, made good business sense: one could point to other media outlets dependent upon sensationalism to capture more of the news market.

    The rare coverage the Post offers to the BSA invariably casts our movement in a negative light, despite the fact that in the DC area, the BSA is an extremely active force for the public good. In fact, the National Capitol Area Council is one of the most vibrant in the country. As the Post has strayed from the ethical norms (a.k.a., traditional values) of journalism, they have lost public trust and it’s fortunes have followed. Yes, print media is suffering nationally, but the Post more so than any other top national newspaper has exacerbated its decline by moving in the direction of yellow journalism. In 2012 the venerable Post dropped off of the Fortune 500. To say that “the values of the Post do not need changing” is to say, in essence, that his newly acquired paper should continue to treat the news in an unprofessional fashion, which apparently includes doing journalistic violence to the BSA through selective, inaccurate, and sensationalized articles.

    To be fair, the Post has attempted to deal with persistent (and mostly accurate) accusations of its failure to live up to traditional, ethical journalistic values. The Post, like some other news outlets, hired an ombudsman to make the paper more ‘honest’ and accountable to the public. However, self-regulation has not worked. Hopefully Bezos will reconsider his thoughts on values. He could do worse than to refer to the Scout Oath and Law as he seeks to improve the fortunes of the Washington Post.

  13. Quoting J Edgar Hoover as an authority on morality may not be a smart move… unless the intention is irony.

    • The citation was in reference to the Post’s long history of publishing non-editorial articles with an obvious leftist political slant.

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