The Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has released a statement apologising for Donald Trump’s politically charged speech at the National Jamboree.
Michael Surbaugh wrote: “I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree. That was never our intent.
"The invitation for the sitting US President to visit the National Jamboree is a long-standing tradition that has been extended to the leader of our nation that has had a Jamboree during his term since 1937. It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies. For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters.
"We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program.
“While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day.
“Trustworthiness, loyalty, kindness and bravery are just a few of the admirable traits Scouts aspire to develop – in fact, they make up the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
“As part of our program’s duty to country, we teach youth to become active citizens, to participate in their government, respect the variety of perspectives and to stand up for individual rights.
“Few will argue the importance of teaching values and responsibility to our youth — not only right from wrong, but specific positive values such as fairness, courage, honour and respect for others.
“For all of the adventure we provide youth such as hiking, camping and zip-lining, those activities actually serve as proven pathways and opportunities to develop leadership skills and become people of character.
“In a time when differences seem to separate our country, we hope the true spirit of Scouting will empower our next generation of leaders to bring people together to do good in the world.”
The statement follows an outcry from angry parents, who responded by condemning Scouts for its initial "silence" after the speech in West Virginia.
President Trump delivered the highly politicised speech to some 40,000 boy scouts. He criticised former US president Barack Obama, threatened to fire federal employees and denounced the media.
Parent Rob McLaughlin said: "I'll be pulling my son out of boy scouts after this disgusting episode, wouldn't want him to attend another Trump rally at a jamboree."
Former boy scouts also jumped into the fray and condemned the US president. Dan Kennedy took to Twitter and wrote: “This is nauseating. I’m an Eagle Scout and a former scoutmaster. The BSA was never partisan.”
Donald Trump was the first US president in 80 years to stray from the topics of diplomacy and citizenship, instead choosing to focus on partisan politics.
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