Bryan on Scouting

‘CBS Sunday Morning’ examines past, present, future of BSA

For 108 years, “the Scouts have never failed to live up to the motto: Be Prepared. So are they prepared for the challenge of a changing America?”

And so began the Feb. 4, 2018, episode of CBS Sunday Morning. The 90-minute newsmagazine, which averages between 5 million and 6 million viewers a week, made the Boy Scouts of America its cover story on Sunday.

From my seat on the couch, the 7-minute, 53-second segment answered that opening question with a resounding yes.

Yes, the BSA is prepared to meet the needs of busy families with programs that appeal to every family member — moms and dads, sons and daughters.

In doing so, as the Sunday Morning piece made clear, the BSA won’t forget what has gotten it to 108 years and counting: a movement that prepares young people to make ethical and moral choices throughout their lives.

‘Not just any Sunday’

The piece aired on a Sunday that was “not just any Sunday,” host Jane Pauley said. “No, not because of the Super Bowl. Today is Scout Sunday — a run-up to this week’s 108th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America.”

In the ensuing segment, journalist Tony Dokoupil sought to cover the past, present and future of the BSA.

He visited the Cascade Pacific Council, headquartered in Portland, Ore., to meet some of the country’s first girl Cub Scouts.

Jordana Garcia, 8, was among them. She had been coming to her brother’s Cub Scout meetings for years.

“Sometimes he would do carving and other stuff, and I just had to sit in the car and just do my notebook,” she said.

Not anymore. Now Jordana is a proud Wolf in Pack 4. She’s ready to earn the awards she’s seen her brother receive.

Traditions new and old

Welcoming girls into Cub Scouting this year and a Boy Scout-age program next year doesn’t mean losing sight of what got us here: a commitment to the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

To investigate that, Dokoupil headed to the mountains of Utah.

There he found Troop 1262 of Salt Lake City. When he arrived, the Scouts were busy building campfires and igloos — “the kind of outdoor adventure that’s defined the Boy Scouts of America for more than 100 years.”

That served as a perfect segue to an at-a-glance history of the BSA and some of its more famous Eagle Scout alumni: billionaire Michael Bloomberg, president Gerald Ford and astronaut Neil Armstrong among them.

‘Kids want what we have’

Dokoupil’s final stop was to see Michael Surbaugh, another famous Eagle Scout who serves as the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive.

“Kids want what we have,” Surbaugh told Dokoupil. “The traditional aspects of outdoors, camping, adventure, hiking. This is what we do.”

Dokoupil then returned to Troop 1262, revealing that most of its members are Burmese refugees. The troop, which Aaron Derr covered for this blog last year, gives these young men an opportunity to shine.

Dokoupil asked leader Saborn Va what the guys in Troop 1262 would be doing without Scouting.

“I’ll tell you what the boys told me: ‘If it wasn’t for Scouting, I’d probably be involved with a gang somewhere.’ Because that’s what all their friends are,” Va said.

Watch the segment below