- The Washington Times - Friday, December 25, 2009

POCONO SUMMIT, Pa.

A fifth-generation Boy Scout, 11-year-old Brad Corr is steeped in all the lore and tradition: the Scout Oath and Scout Law, campcraft and community service, the daily doing of good deeds.

If he were recruiting a friend for the Scouts, though, what would be his best pitch? “We got to build catapults and launch pumpkins from them.”

Old-fashioned fun is part of the Scout heritage. So is doing one’s duty to God and country. And so too is controversy. As the Boy Scouts of America heads toward its 100th anniversary in February, its first century adds up to a remarkable saga, full of achievement and complexity.

On one hand, no other U.S. youth organization has served as many boys - an estimated 112 million over the years - and is so deeply ingrained in the Norman Rockwell version of American popular culture. It can boast of a congressional charter and a string of U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, serving as its honorary leader.

On the other hand, in the courts and the public arena, the BSA has doggedly defended its right to exclude gays and atheists from its ranks, overriding requests from some local units to soften those policies.

“We do have folks who say we probably should rethink this,” said Bob Mazzuca, the chief Scout executive. “We can agree to disagree on a particular issue and still come together for the common good.”

The Scouts — though their numbers have dropped in recent decades — remain a pervasive presence across America, vibrant in many suburbs and heartland towns, pressing minority recruitment campaigns in urban areas where enrollment often has lagged. Mr. Mazzuca and others in the Scouts’ extended family view the centennial as an opportunity to look forward as well as back.

“We’re going to reintroduce folks to the impact Scouting has made and the reality that Scouting is more essential today than it’s ever been before,” he said.

No centennial campaign is needed to convince the Corr family that Scouting is essential. They’ve been engaged since 1928, when Edgar Corr became scoutmaster of Troop P-2 in Easton, Pa., and his son, Andrew, became one of the Scouts.

Andrew’s son, Ted Corr, now 71, became a Scout in 1950 and remains active as a unit commissioner. Warren Corr, Ted’s 40-year-old son, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 1987 and has served in various leadership posts since then. And Brad, Warren’s son, joined the Cub Scouts in 2004 and graduated to the Boy Scouts last February as a member of Troop 29 in Forks Township, Pa.

A sixth-grader, Brad is a Tenderfoot, the first rank a Scout can earn, with the ambitious goal of becoming an Eagle Scout within three years.

Some of Brad’s friends are in the Scouts, others have dropped out or never joined. A common refrain from many families in Troop 29’s area and nationwide, is that they just don’t have the time for Scouting.

For the Corrs, though, forgoing Scouting isn’t an option - even with Brad playing soccer, basketball and lacrosse, as well as cello and drums in the school band.

“Scouting gives enough flexibility that boys can do all kinds of activities — it’s not one or the other,” said Warren Corr.

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