Parents and alumni were furious about Trump's speech to the Boy Scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America forbids its chapters from pursuing "any objectives related to political or social advocacy, including partisan politics."

As a result, many parents, volunteers, and former scouts were outraged when President Donald Trump took the stage at the organization's annual jamboree on July 24 and turned the nationwide gathering into a campaign rally.

In a characteristically free-form address, the president cursed, encouraged attendees to boo former President Barack Obama, and alluded to sexual activity that took place at a cocktail party he attended in the 1980s.

Photo by Saul Loeb/Getty Images.


Not long after video of the event went viral, hundreds of alumni and relatives of current scouts posted their reactions to the organization's Facebook page.

The responses were overwhelmingly frustrated, angry, and mournful.

Some noted that by condoning Trump's furiously partisan speech, the Scouts were implicitly supporting the goals of the Republican party, in a violation of the organization's charter.  

All comment images from Boy Scouts of America/Facebook.

Others argued that the speech — and its speaker — conflicted with the stated values of the organization...

...while many were simply saddened that the organization's leaders would permit such a violation of what they believe to be the core Scout ethos.

The Boy Scouts of America released a statement the following morning that reaffirmed the group's nonpartisan character, though it remained quiet on Trump's conduct.

"The invitation for the sitting U.S. president to address the national jamboree is a long-standing tradition and is in no way an endorsement of any political party or specific policies," the statement read.

This is not the first time the Boy Scouts have found themselves at the center of a political struggle.

For decades, the Scout bylaws held that, "homosexual conduct," is "inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath," and openly gay children were banned from participating. The ban was ultimately removed in 2013 after years of mounting public backlash, though openly gay adults can still be prohibited from being scout leaders.

Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

The controversy flared again when a transgender scout was kicked out of a Cub Scout pack in New Jersey in December 2016.

Transgender scouts were officially permitted the following January.

But a sitting president involving the 117-year-old organization with party politics is new — and unsettling.

Trump's speech broke with eight decades of precedent, upheld by presidents from both parties, of using the speech to speak broadly about citizenship and service in a nonpartisan fashion.

In response, alumni, parents, and commentators from across the political spectrum are taking notice — and asking the Boy Scouts of America to stand up for their stated values.

Whether they find the loyalty, courtesy, and bravery to do so remains to be seen.

Clarification 7/25/2017: This post was updated to clarify that while the Boy Scouts of America does not prohibit openly gay troop leaders, it does allow for individual charters to do so.
Updated 7/27/2017: This post was updated to clarify that groups of Cub Scouts are "packs," not "troops."

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When Molly Reeser was a student at Michigan State University, she took a job mucking horse stalls to help pay for classes. While she was there, she met a 10-year-old girl named Casey, who was being treated for cancer, and — because both were animal lovers — they became fast friends.

Two years later, Casey died of cancer.

"Everyone at the barn wanted to do something to honor her memory," Molly remembers. A lot of suggestions were thrown out, but Molly knew that there was a bigger, more enduring way to do it.

"I saw firsthand how horses helped Casey and her family escape from the difficult and terrifying times they were enduring. I knew that there must be other families who could benefit from horses in the way she and her family had."

Molly approached the barn owners and asked if they would be open to letting her hold a one-day event. She wanted to bring pediatric cancer patients to the farm, where they could enjoy the horses and peaceful setting. They agreed, and with the help of her closest friends and the "emergency" credit card her parents had given her, Molly created her first Camp Casey. She worked with the local hospital where Casey had been a patient and invited 20 patients, their siblings and their parents.

The event was a huge success — and it was originally meant to be just that: a one-day thing. But, Molly says, "I believe Casey had other plans."

One week after the event, Molly received a letter from a five-year-old boy who had brain cancer. He had been at Camp Casey and said it was "the best day of his life."

"[After that], I knew that we had to pull it off again," Molly says. And they did. Every month for the next few years, they threw a Camp Casey. And when Molly graduated, she did the most terrifying thing she had ever done and told her parents that she would be waitressing for a year to see if it might be possible to turn Camp Casey into an actual nonprofit organization. That year of waitressing turned into six, but in the end she was able to pull it off: by 2010, Camp Casey became a non-profit with a paid staff.

"I am grateful for all the ways I've experienced good luck in my life and, therefore, I believe I have a responsibility to give back. It brings me tremendous joy to see people, animals, or things coming together to create goodness in a world that can often be filled with hardships."

Camp Casey serves 1500 children under the age of 18 each year in Michigan. "The organization looks different than when it started," Molly says. "We now operate four cost-free programs that bring accessible horseback riding and recreational services to children with cancer, sickle cell disease, and other life-threatening illnesses."

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