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BOY SCOUTS: National Controversy Hits Locally

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The year began as a sort of home stretch…“It’s almost done!” says Mid-Iowa Council Scout Executive, Bob Hopper.

The beautiful Fred Maytag Scouting Center on 63rd Street opens in May…“Activity fields, a pond, outdoor amphitheater,” Hopper says, listing off the center's amenities.

But then, this elephantine national story moved into the living room.

“The national conversation, if you will, certainly is dominating scouting here as it is everywhere,” Hoppers admits.

He says the decision on whether to change its policy and allow gays has evoked so much passion, he was happy to hear national leaders announce that it would be delayed until spring.

“I think it was a smart thing to do in light of the immense amount of feedback we’ve received across the country…and we’re a membership-based organization.”

At least one local troop has already taken a side. Troop 50 is chartered by Plymouth Congregational Church, which took a stand 20 years ago to be open to and accepting of gays and lesbians.

“I mean, if they look at scouting’s laws and scouting’s principles, they’ll see that tolerance is one of them,” says Tom Fisher, one of Troop 50's assistant scoutmasters.

This week, Troop 50 sent a letter to BSA’s national council, asking that the policy be changed…or at least, not be enforced.

“There are individual troops that are objecting, individual troops that are saying they won’t follow the policy, and the national organization is going to find that problem more and more.”

Opponents of the movement to allow gays have suggested that it would open the door to pedophiles, but the Mid-Iowa Council strongly disagrees. And Hopper has more to add… “We have lots of great ladies who are our scout masters, now. And they take the boys out and camp, and we’ve figured out how to do it.”

All sides seem to agree that a decision in either direction will cost the Boy Scouts sponsors and members. In the meantime, they’ll keep their eyes on 63rd Street, and try to keep looking forward to spring.

“This will be a great year,"  Hopper nods, assuringly. "It really will.”