- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2001

BOWLING GREEN, Va. (AP) — Bad weather forced President Bush to cancel a planned trip yesterday to the National Scout Jamboree.
Mr. Bush had planned to join more than 32,000 boys in the 14th quadrennial gathering known as "the Olympics of Boy Scouting," but heavy storms led organizers to scrap a ceremony the president was to attend.
The decision came after two Boy Scouts were struck by lightning Thursday during the gathering at Fort A.P. Hill, an Army facility about 40 miles north of Richmond. The boys were treated at a hospital and released.
Mr. Bush, who defended the organization when it came under attack for excluding homosexual leaders, planned to address the Scouts and 8,000 staff members from around the world yesterday.
But fun, not homosexual rights, seemed the preoccupation during the first National Scouts Jamboree since the Supreme Court upheld the group's right to ban homosexuals from the organization last year.
"We don't discuss it in front of the children," Boy Scouts spokesman Gregg Shields told the New York Times of the ruling. "A Scout is kind, and we have tolerance for other peoples' opinions. And we ask people to have tolerance of our values."
Mr. Shields pointed to the overflow subscription to the nine-day celebration at Fort A.P. Hill as a barometer of Scouting's health despite boycott calls from homosexual rights advocates and dissents from regional troop leaders.
When President Clinton issued an order barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in certain federal education and training programs, the Interior Department asked the Justice Department for guidance on how that order affected the holding of Boy Scout Jamborees on federal lands.
Fort A.P. Hill has served as the site for the jamboree since 1981.
Mr. Bush accused the Clinton administration of trying to throw the Scouts off federal lands. Attorney General Janet Reno later said the tradition of Boy Scouts using federal lands for camping and other activities could continue.
The high court decided the Scouts were within their rights in 1990 when they ousted James Dale, an assistant Scoutmaster from New Jersey, after learning he was homosexual.
Although numerous companies and charities have cut back on funding for the Scouts, other donors have stepped in. Mr. Shields said revenues for the national operation rose from $91 million to $93 million last year.
Scouts organizers from nine regions, including Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, have submitted a call to the national organization to reverse the ban against homosexuals.
The American Medical Association also has urged a reversal, citing the risk of depression and suicide that homosexual youngsters could face.
Some school districts have dropped sponsorship of troops. Objecting parents are turning to the Campfire Boys and Girls organization, which bans discrimination against homosexuals.
The Jamboree began Monday and ends Wednesday. It allows teen-agers to take part in the rites developed by Robert Baden-Powell almost a century ago: physical fitness, conservation and the spirit of brotherhood.
Boys came from all over the United States and 26 other countries to scuba dive, canoe, raft and compete for merit badges at the Jamboree.
In addition to the activities, the boys attended religious services this weekend. Mass or services were celebrated in several Christian denominations, along with Jewish services Saturday and a Buddhist ceremony yesterday. The Buddhist ceremony attracted curious Scouts of different religions and centered on the ideal of acceptance and learning to interpret one's inner self while still being aware of the world of the outer self.

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