Exxon-Mobil’s Rex Tillerson urges Scouts to get on with the “main thing,” Scouting, after historic membership policy vote

June 11, 2013

Late last month the national board, the governing body of the Boy Scouts of America, voted to open Scouting again to Scouts who have determined they are homosexual.

Scout leaders voted to change a 22-year-old membership policy that effectively banned Boy Scouts from being homosexual, or acknowledging they are gay.  The policy was a haphazard outgrowth of a 1991 policy change, still in effect, that bans homosexuals from leadership positions.  Over the past decade the issue heated up, with a few boys having completed their work to earn Scouting’s highest rank, Eagle, and then being denied the rank when officials discovered they were homosexual.

No brief description does full justice to the issue, to the change in policy, nor to the difficulty of discussions surrounding the change.  Several national groups assailed BSA for even considering the change, including the Family Research Council and members of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Discussions in some quarters were as ugly as any I’ve seen on any issue anywhere — worse than union votes in non-union corporations, worse than votes to cut teacher pay in state legislatures, worse than civil rights votes, worse than abortion issues.

Bryan Wendall’s blog, Bryan on Scouting, is a semi-official mouthpiece for Scouting — he is the editor of Scouting magazine, the monthly publication to leaders of Boy Scouting.  At the blog, where serious discussions of the new policy unfolded since February, Bryan posted a video of immediate past President of Boy Scouting National Council, Rex Tillerson, talking about the next steps.  I’ve reproduced Bryan’s introduction, and the video.  Discussions at that blog have been rather intense (but not nearly so ugly as those at Family Research Council venues, and at WorldNet Daily).

One more piece of background:  In Scout leader training, two mantras rising over the past 15 years involve reminding leaders to stick to the main purposes of Scouting in any controversy, to help get through difficulties or crises in unit management or local organization issues:  “Remember, we do it for the boys, they are the main thing.”  And, “The main thing to remember is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”  Tillerson knows Scouting, and knows Scouters, when he makes his appeal.

Rex Tillerson at 2013 National Board meeting of BSA

Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson exhorted Scouters to get on with ‘the main thing,’ making Scouting work for boys. Tillerson is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, and past national president of the organization; he remains active in his local Scouting organizations, in Circle 10 Council in Dallas, Texas, and surrounding counties. Photo by Michael Roytek/BSA

Rex Tillerson speaks out about change and ‘The Main Thing’

“So we’ve made the decision. We’re going to change,” says Rex Tillerson. ”Now what?”

Less than 24 hours after the volunteer delegates voted to change the BSA’s membership policy for youth, Tillerson addressed a large room full of Scouting volunteers and professionals at the closing general session of the BSA’s National Annual Meeting.

In a powerful, heartfelt speech, Tillerson made his message clear: Change is inevitable, but “The Main Thing,” which is to serve more youth in Scouting, hasn’t changed. With that in mind, he reasoned, it’s time for all of us unite toward this common goal.

Tillerson, immediate past president of the Boy Scouts of America and a 2010 Silver Buffalo recipient, knows something about making big decisions and dealing with change. When he’s not serving as a Scouting volunteer, he’s the chairman, president, and CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., one of the world’s largest companies.

In 1999, Tillerson worked for Exxon when it merged with Mobil—definitely a big change for both companies.

Take 10 minutes to watch the video below and listen to Tillerson’s message. Then, share it with the members of your Scouting family.

Are you volunteering in any way in Scouting now?  You should.

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Now we know what she looked like: Catherine Pollard, first woman Scoutmaster

January 9, 2013

Some weeks ago I was looking for a good photograph of the late Catherine Pollard, the woman who became the first well-known de facto woman Scoutmaster in the Boy Scouts of America.  Ms. Pollard filled in in 1973 through 1975, when no one else could step into the job.  This was back in the pre-intelligent Anthropocene, however; BSA’s National Council refused to accept her paperwork to be Scoutmaster, officially.  Officially, BSA didn’t allow women to serve in that role.

Times changed.  In 1988 BSA got smart and changed the rules so women could serve as Scoutmasters.  Some alert person remembered Pollard’s fight to get recognition a decade earlier.  Pollard was asked to sign up officially as the first woman Scoutmaster in 1988, and she did.

Now, I don’t recall why I needed it then, but there is an entire period of history prior to 1980, and for about 20 to 25 years before that, that is missing from internet archives.  We need to do a better job of finding non-digital and non-digitized sources of photos, graphics, and other information from post-World War II times, and get them posted on the web, for the sake of history.

A kind reader named Brian sent us this photo.  Thank you, Brian.

First BSA woman Scoutmaster, Catherine Pollard of Milford, Connecticut

Catherine Pollard, first woman Scoutmaster in BSA history; in uniform with Troop 13 of Milford, Connecticut, in 1973 and 1975, unofficially. In 1988, when BSA changed rules, they asked Ms. Pollard to be the first registered Scoutmaster. Scoutmaster Pollard died in 2006.

To the memory of Catherine Pollard, whose bugle called dozens of youth to a lifetime of service, though there were those who thought she shouldn’t be tooting the horn at all.

(Y’all got other photos out there you should be sharing?  Send ‘em in.)


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