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ACLU Ruins Boy Scout Camp
by Hans Zieger
22 August 2003Boy Scouts

The ACLU is forcing the Boy Scouts out of a park they have been in since 1915.


As hundreds of Boy Scouts were enjoying summer camp at Camp Balboa in San Diego last week, the ACLU was handed a U.S. District Court ruling condemning the Scouts for occupying the camp on leased public land. Soon, the Scouts could be kicked out of their historic 16-acre camp and council headquarters building.
 
With "overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence," Judge Napoleon Jones found that the Boy Scouts are a religious organization and they were given preferential treatment when the City of San Diego first agreed to let the Boy Scouts utilize public land in Balboa Park nearly nine decades ago. In 2000, a lesbian couple and an agnostic couple joined with the ACLU to file the lawsuit against the City of San Diego. They claimed to feel excluded by the Boy Scouts' religious policies in particular.
 
''Belief in God is and always has been central to BSA's principles and purposes,'' Judge Jones wrote.  ''Adult leaders are expected to reinforce in Scouts the values of duty to God and reverence.''
 
If there is "overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence" for the presence of God in the life of a Boy Scout, there is evidence of a similar nature for God's role in the public square on Main Street USA. Religious mottos and preambles and texts were not an afterthought to the people who wrote them. In God We Trust. Endowed by their Creator. One Nation Under God. The ACLU is working to get rid of those things too.
 
The Boy Scouts were a part of Balboa Park way back before the ACLU had even been hatched from the Communist Party.
 
After the 1915 San Diego World's Fair in Balboa Park, the Santa Fe Railroad donated its Pueblo Indian Village to local Boy Scouts with approval by the city council. For 25 years, the Scouts used the Indian Village as a headquarters and recreation site free of charge. During World War Two, the military took possession of Balboa Park and the Boy Scouts launched their volunteer campaigns to help the war effort from a makeshift headquarters in a local theater.  
At the end of the war, the San Diego City Council passed a resolution authorizing the Boy Scouts to take charge of several acres of land in Balboa Park. Through fundraising and volunteer work, a state-of-the-art swimming pool and 600-seat outdoor amphitheater were constructed. In 1949, the Boy Scouts Desert Pacific Council headquarters building was completed.
 
In 1957, parts of Balboa Park remained undeveloped, so the city council agreed to transfer additional property to the Boy Scouts for maintenance and operations. A fifty-year lease was signed with a rental fee of one dollar per year. With nearly 16 acres of leased land, the Boy Scouts soon launched Camp Balboa.
 
Today, Camp Balboa accommodates up to 300 campers at a time, and it offers a variety of year-round programs. Each year, 12,000 Boy Scouts take part in day camps, weekend camps, and merit badge classes. According to David Hodges, field director for the Desert Pacific Boy Scout Council, "The park is used by everybody. We run this portion of the park. We reserve it for outside groups and anybody's welcome to use it. We do all the upkeep of the property here, and we lease it from the city. All the maintenance, all the expenses, the landscaping, everything we take care of."
 
Groups other than the Boy Scouts utilize Camp Balboa and Balboa Park. Last week for example, the two-day San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Festival was held at Balboa Park. The Boy Scouts have spent millions of dollars developing and maintaining Balboa Park over the years, without burden to the city and its taxpayers.
 
Even if San Diego had given preferential treatment to the Boy Scouts, what harm does that do to society? Once upon a time, working with the Boy Scouts in city hall was a common courtesy. Today, such treatment is viewed by the ACLU and judges like Napoleon Jones as though the city had given special privileges to the KKK or the Taliban.
 
The Boy Scouts have contributed to our communities and improved our way of life. It is ironic that the ACLU is questioning the Scouts for practicing character and moral virtue on public lands, while the ACLU is occupying public courthouses around America, pulling down every vestige of decency in sight.
 
There is overwhelming and uncontradicted evidence that the ACLU is destroying America, one Boy Scout camp at a time.
 

Hans Zeiger, 18, is a columnist, speaker, and activist. An Eagle Scout, he is president of the Scout Honor Coalition.

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