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Scouting activities will go on despite Pentagon sponsorship reminder


By Ben Murray
Stars and StripesEuropean edition
Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Despite a recent reminder from the Pentagon that military bases cannot officially sponsor Boy Scout, Girl Scout and Cub Scout troops, base officials in Europe say that scouting programs will continue.

"We plan to continue our current support to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, which includes such things as: facilities to conduct regular meetings and recreational activities, and to store supplies, local military telephone service, health care during scouting activities in accordance with applicable service regulations, and space-available use of youth services equipment," according to Millie Waters, spokeswoman for the Installation Management Agency-Europe.

The Pentagon reminder, announced Monday, comes as part of a settlement in a lawsuit against the Department of Defense and other organizations brought by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois.

Waters said Tuesday that IMA had received the memo from the Pentagon and would be forwarding it to installation and military unit commanders. Waters would not provide a copy of the memo to Stars and Stripes.

The ACLU suit claimed that the government was improperly sponsoring a private group that maintains some religious association.

The Pentagon, however, said it has long had regulations against the sponsorship of nonfederal organizations and believes military units are in compliance with those guidelines, according to The Associated Press. Military regulations do not forbid servicemembers from leading scout troops in their free time.

According to Dan Adams, executive director for the Transatlantic Council of the Boy Scouts of America, about 85 percent to 90 percent of Europe-based scout troops are currently chartered by military organizations.

If military organizations are no longer allowed to sponsor troops, Adams said, the scouts in Europe would face a significant obstacle, but still would be able to provide scouting programs. The scouts, he said, might be able to adapt by shifting their charter organizations from military units to groups of parents or other private organizations.

Currently, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts in the Transatlantic Council chapters include about 10,000 members across 26 countries, "from Turkey to Ireland," Adams said.

Lisa Boughton, Cub Scout committee chairwoman for Pack 65 in Darmstadt, Germany, said regardless of who the official benefactor of the scouts becomes, the kids programs will continue.

"Scouting will go on," Boughton said.



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