Learning for Life Response to Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More

You may not have caught the original New York Times article titled Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More , but you probably heard about Boy Scouts training to fight terrorism in the media lately, thanks to the misguided article. Even you haven’t read it, I’d encourage you to check it out just for the awesome pictures.

The article which didn’t do a good job of distinuishing between the traditional Boy Scouts program and the Learning for Life Exploring program had some quotes that would make some den mothers cringe:

Dave Holletz, of the Brawley, Calif., police department, entered after the Explorers had killed the last hostage-taker. “Forget the injured, forget the dead,” Mr. Holletz advised the Explorers. “Accomplish your mission: terminate the shooter.”

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

And then she was off to another bus hijacking.

With all of the negative press the article has recieved around the internet and other news media, Learning for Life has issed a response to the article:

The May 14th New York Times article “Scouts Train to Fight Terrorists, and More” mischaracterizes Exploring as a “law enforcement, terrorism and illegal immigration training program” and includes a number of other inaccuracies. Exploring does not train participants in those areas, but provides a simulated portrayal of events and necessary skills that are a part of that career field. Exploring is a career exploration program designed to help young people make intelligent decisions regarding their future. As noted in the article, the feature highlighted the law enforcement component of Exploring—which is just one of the program’s many areas of focus, including fire and emergency services, law, health, aviation, engineering, skilled trades, and other occupations.

We are disappointed that the article portrayed law enforcement professionals administering the program in an unfavorable light. Local community organizations administer the activities of Explorer posts in a controlled, safe, and professional manner. The story featured quotes from leaders during a law enforcement competition involving several Explorer posts and does not represent the comprehensive nature of the program as a whole. Law Enforcement Exploring has been in existence for many years and has helped to produce exceptional professionals in the law enforcement field who are actively protecting our citizens throughout the country. We are extremely proud of our youth participants and adult volunteers.

Further, the story’s claim that the program is undergoing an “intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters” is misleading. Since the 1950s, the Exploring program and its activities have been designed to keep pace with issues affecting society. The activities highlighted in the article in no way signal a change of focus for the program.

Last, the article inaccurately describes Explorers as Boy Scouts. Exploring is a program of Learning for Life, a nonprofit organization that provides character and career education programs to participating agencies or groups. Learning for Life is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.

Exploring offers participants a well-rounded and exciting program centered on career opportunities that positively impact the lives of our youth participant and ultimately the communities they choose to serve. That is the true story of Exploring.

John Anthony
National Director, Learning For Life

What do you think about it?

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Good rebuttal and it answers the current definition of what Explorers are.

By Joshua Godinez on May 18th, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Sadly, I don’t think it will do much good to save the latest “popular” image of Exploring and Scouting thanks to the New York Times because the NY Times closed web-commentary on the article without correction or reference to the Learning for Life response.

By Scouter341 on May 19th, 2009 at 10:53 am

[…] ScoutingNews.org found the response to that New York Times article about the Explorers training that included ways to take out terrorists that started a flurry of worried reflections about the directions of Scouting today. […]



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