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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Oak Park Scout Units Plan to Leave the BSA for Campfire Boys and Girls an Outdoor Program that Doesn't Discriminate

Chicago Sun Times, January 30, 2001 Chicago, IL
Oak Park Scouts may defect to Camp Fire
By Brenda Warner Rotzoll, Staff Reporter

Some Oak Park parents are considering forming Camp Fire clubs to replace Boy Scout troops that lost their charters because the troops challenged the Scouts' ban on gay members and leaders.

"We're meeting with the parents Wednesday and trying to get them to know all about Camp Fire so they can make a decision on whether to start a club," said Jean Lachowicz, executive director of the Metropolitan Chicago Council of Camp Fire Inc., at 203 N. Wabash.

"We are not actively recruiting in Oak Park, but we are working with any parents who contact us. We've had many, many calls -- especially in the last week -- but since September we've been getting many calls," Lachowicz said.

Ken Brinkman of Oak Park, who has two sons in scouting and has been involved himself for 16 years, said he would be at Wednesday's Camp Fire meeting. He said he didn't know if all the parents in his Scout troop wanted to form a Camp Fire club.

"I'm going as the information gatherer," said Brinkman, whose 40-member Cub Scout pack was among seven in Oak Park dumped by the Boy Scouts of America last week.

"Personally, I'm not sure what our family's going to do. Our older boy just told us he doesn't want to be a Boy Scout because he doesn't want to be part of their group," he said.

Brinkman said the scouting program has been wonderful for his sons, and he has enjoyed getting to know other parents and children.

"But the Boy Scouts of America stance on the anti-gay policy is very frustrating," he said.

Different parents had different reactions to losing their charters.

One Oak Park Scout troop that had been based at an area school went to the nearby Cornerstone Church and was rechartered there, a parent said.

Camp Fire Boys and Girls is much smaller than the Boy Scouts, Lachowicz said. Nationwide, it serves about 625,000 youths a year, many of them through school- and park-based programs instead of through clubs. Boy Scouts projects its organization will serve 3.75 million members by 2002.

In metropolitan Chicago last year, Camp Fire had 425 members in club programs, served 3,908 children through self-reliance classes and reached another 1,300 children at special events.




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