Mike Rowe said the real tragedy with the “death of the Boy Scouts of America” is not the decision to allow girls to join, but changing what made it successful for 108 years.
The comments came after a follower named Sharon asked his thoughts on the recent decision by the organization to allow girls to join. He first shared his own experience as a scout in 1974 then broke down what the organization should do instead.
“In Troop 16, merit badges reflected merit. There was a boxing ring where differences were often settled, monthly camping trips, frequent visits to the shooting range, weekly fitness tests, poetry readings from memory, and many other activities tailor-made to pull every kid out of his particular comfort zone,” the host of “Dirty Jobs” shared in a Facebook post Wednesday.
“When I left the organization in 1979, there were 5 million active members. Today, there are 2.3 million. With the recent departure of the Mormon community, that number will soon drop to under two million. Clearly, something is wrong. The question is, what? Is it the past sexual scandals? Is it the more recent admission of gay and transgender members? I would imagine those are factors,” he added. “But a 60-percent decline? That seems very unlikely. Besides, the drop-off started long before all that.”
“In my opinion, this kind of attrition can only explained by an increasing lack of relevance, or, the perception of irrelevance,” he continued. “Right now, there’s a perception that The Boy Scouts have gone soft. That’s the real tragedy, Sharon, because I can’t think of anything more needed in our country today, than a youth organization that offers kids the same experience I underwent in the basement of Kenwood Church. Why? Because our country’s current obsession with ‘safe spaces’ is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.”
“I also know the ‘safe space movement’ is real, and I can think of no better way to push back than to expose more kids to the brand of Scouting that I was lucky enough to encounter four decades ago,” Rowe explained.
“If by some miracle, the dynamic I experienced in Troop 16 were available to everyone today — if Scouting could somehow recapture that combination of risk and wonder and pride and personal accountability — I believe their ranks would swell with the sons and daughters of millions of anxious parents, desperate to expose their kids to a program that prepares them for the real world.”
“If the Boy Scouts want to attract a new generation of members, they’ll need to stand for something more than inclusion. Because being inclusive doesn’t make you relevant,” he added.
“If I were calling the shots, I’d take a stand against the safe space movement and everything it embodies. As we all know, in 1974, a chipped tooth or a black eye didn’t lead to a lawsuit, and today, I’m pretty sure a boxing ring and a trip to the shooting range would make a lot of parents … uncomfortable. But that’s exactly the point. In a world that values safety above everything else, discomfort is never welcome. Neither is risk. And yet, discomfort and risk are precisely why my time in Scouting was so valuable, and why Troop 16 was the polar opposite of a safe space.”