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Editorial: Boy Scouts simply have to train leaders better

Published October 19, 2013 1:01 am

Scout leaders have much to learn
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Boy Scout leaders are, for the most part, untrained volunteers, willing to expend time and effort helping boys and young men have fun and learn some useful lessons. But that doesn't excuse the kind of irresponsible behavior that occurred in Utah's Goblin Valley State Park when a Scout leader pushed over an ancient rock formation called a goblin, destroying it, while his two fellow Scouters cheered.

It's probably the "untrained" part of the Boy Scout leadership equation that's behind this act of inexcusable vandalism. The international Scout organization should quit sending men out to supervise troops of young boys without education and training. Knowing how to start a campfire and use a bow and arrows isn't enough.

Men who lead young Scouts into areas designated as parks and monuments because of their unique natural beauty and cultural value should understand — and teach their charges — that these treasures are fragile and worth our respect and protection.

It's apparent from this incident and others, including several cases in recent years of massive wildfires started by Boy Scout groups, that leaders don't know enough about how to behave in the outdoors.

The 20 million-year-old rock formation toppled by these men is, of course, irreplaceable. Their story that they believed it might fall and hurt someone is asinine. They face felony charges and should be prosecuted for their actions.

We can only hope that forcing this trio to face the consequences of their thoughtless behavior might prompt higher-level Scouting officials to more thoroughly educate volunteers about the value of Utah's natural treasures. Instilling common sense is more difficult.






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