It’s such a privilege to write that – Dear Scouts – because scouts, and especially the Rover Scouts of the BPSA, are some of the finest people I know. I haven’t met each and every one of you yet, but I know how much I would enjoy hiking and swapping songs with you. Even though we haven’t met, we are held together by our common scout promise and law – which includes a call to service and help where it is needed, and being a friend to all. That same law and promise make it our privilege and duty to take part in the current reckoning with systemic racism.
Just as the present contains multitudes, and as so many are facing the very different realities of life experienced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, history is always more than one story. The more clearly we see the continuing effects of history on the present, the more pressing it is to choose carefully what we carry forward with us. While we scout in method and manner outlined by Robert Baden-Powell, and he contributed undeniably to the worldwide scouting movement, his biography is complicated. By retaining his name as ours, we associate too closely with his entire legacy, including his racism, imperialism, colonialism, sexism.
On Sunday, June 28, there was a meeting of Regional, District, and Training Commissioners, Board members past and present, and other nationally involved Scouts. Though no formal vote was taken, there was consensus on two points:
-We need to change our name.
-The name change must be the launch of a journey to examine our entire program and organization.
Lisa Heller eloquently summarized what many were saying: Let’s seize the moment and change the name which is so bothersome and so problematic. The way forward is to build the group we want to be a part of. Our name is a signalling device. It will signal what’s important to us. If it signals what we are not, that’s a problem.
Although we have resolved that we must change our name, we don’t have a new one yet. To find a new name that more accurately reflects how and why we scout and our desire to be a welcoming, inclusive, diverse, equitable, anti-racist, socially just organization, we must reflect deeply on who we are, what is important to us, and what we want our future to look like.
With the understanding that the BPSA is truly run by the dedicated GSMs and Rovers across the country, you are all called to be a part of this discussion. We are already working at preparing surveys and other formats for feedback and discussion, and as always, you can contact the board at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the patrol method to talk to your GSM and Regional & District Commissioners. Your input truly matters, and as with all things in our all volunteer organization, we can only do what people are willing to put the work in to do. Considering what I know about BPSA Rovers, I think this will be an incredible journey.
Yours in Scouting,
Amber, Scouter Jantar