The 19th National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, with the overall theme of “Live Scouting’s Adventure,” turned out to be more of an adventure than the Boy Scouts of America bargained for on Monday night. President Trump addressed a crowd of 45,000 excited Scouts and this, of course, began the cycle of tweets and headlines expressing absolute shock and horror at President Trump talking politics at the event.
He covered everything from the Electoral College to “threatening” to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, but the most controversial thing did was tell the kids how he met William Levitt at a cocktail party.
You can read his bombastic rambling about knowing power brokers in entertainment, and how successful he’s been in real estate via the full transcript here. In other words, President Trump gave a typical Trump-like speech; something event organizers were surely aware of when they scheduled him.
While one could spend a week excoriating the Hitler Youth tweets and pictures, the craziest element of negative reaction is why any mother would pull her son from the Scouts? Unless the mother belonged to Moms Organized Against Trump (M.O.A.T., ya dig?) and voted for Hillary Clinton, the speech was nothing to end your son’s scouting career over.
After the speech, CNN ran an article titled “The 29 most cringe-worthy lines form Donald Trump’s hyper-political speech to the Boy Scouts.” In a 40-minute speech — that’s nearly one microaggression per minute — CNN couldn’t even hide the video that showed everyone in the crowd laughing, having a great time, and enthusiastically chanting “NO!” when asked if President Obama ever attended a Jamboree — although he did Skype in to the 2010 edition.
Amongst the pandemonious outrage, MOATs and commentators alike are missing the heart of President Trump’s speech: hard work, perseverance, dedication. While these are all values needed to win a general election, they are also values that have been consistent with the Scouting tradition throughout their history.
I was a Cub Scout, and briefly a Boy Scout, before I consulted with my staff at the age of 10 and retired from scouting to focus on taekwondo full-time. (I’ll upload my press conference later.) I didn’t love everything about my kerchief-wearing tenure, and in fact most of the time I was bored having to use my hands to make a car just right for the Pinewood Derby, or the Regatta… My attention wasn’t held by the camping, hiking, or fraternizing either. I’ll fully admit I was an un-athletic little shrimp who loved his video games.
There was one time, however, where Scouts taught me the importance of courage and confidence; in that moment, I felt like I could conquer all. Scouts gave me the opportunity to climb a rock wall, and no not the colorful ones with rocks screwed in. What I climbed was a mountain… or at least seemed like a mountain to a skinny 9 or 10-year-old. When I succeeded, I fully remember feeling like I scaled Mount Everest.
There will always be chatter and negativity and criticism about the President, but I think it’s important to remember what he actually said that electric Monday night in West Virginia.
“Through scouting you also learned to believe in yourself — so important — to have confidence in your ability and to take responsibility for your own life. When you face down new challenges — and you will have plenty of them — develop talents you never thought possible, and lead your teammates through daring trials, you discover that you can handle anything. And you learn it by being a Scout.”
President Trump understands the beauty of Scouts and the lessons it teaches young boys, just as I experienced myself. Through those values that I somehow absorbed as a Scout, I did in fact find out what I was talented at – journalism – and you’re looking at the products of that talent right now. Every day is a gift, and every day each of us have some new obstacle to hurdle or opportunity to embrace. These boys were fortunate enough to learn that message straight from our president.