From an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal; Boy, the Scout Handbook Keeps Changing by Tony Woodleif,
a succinct and thoughtful evaluation of what Scouting means to a Scout and his family:
I suppose a handbook won’t determine whether my sons have an enriching Scout experience. Their troop’s leaders will. And I will. “Troops,” says an Eagle Scout friend, “are like churches.” You get some good and some bad; it depends on who’s doing the work. This reliance on local community is, more than stances on gays or the environment, what makes the Boy Scouts of America conservative in the most wise and American sense of that term.
In the end, I think I will do well—as will all parents of boys—if I adopt the goal set out in the first Scoutmaster Handbook: “. . . we have placed the boy in the midst, and have tried to keep his interests in the forefront; for we realize that our purpose in this Boy Scout Movement is not to exploit methods, nor to glorify movements . . . but to lead boys into useful lives.” That’s something to which even grown men can aspire.
Woodlief quotes the 1914 Handbook for Scoutmasters a second time;
The Scouts and their handbook aspire to transcend politics. The Scouts are to be, insists the 1914 Handbook for Scout Masters, nonsectarian, nonmilitary and nonpartisan. Scouts “cannot favor one interest against another and cannot countenance interference on any debatable questions, whether social, religious or political.”
This is, in part, why we are so slow to react to cultural change. Interference from the outside on ‘debatable questions’ does not prompt change in Scouting as much as careful consideration from within.