Just a short walk from the Focus on the Family and Daily Citizen office stands your typical American shopping mall, a vestige of another era brought about by suburban sprawl and a consumer appetite for predictability and convenience. Opened in 1982, the nearly one million square feet of retail space seems to be hanging on, if only by a thread.
If you saw the outlet today, the only hint you’d see of the land’s pre-‘82 use would be a road that runs east to west on the property’s northern front. “Jamboree Drive” is so named because back in 1960, the property on which the mall now stands was home to the fifth National Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America.
Scout Jamborees date back to the 1930s and have historically featured tens of thousands of boys converging for a week of camaraderie and outdoor adventure.
Back in 1960, which happened to be the Boy Scout’s Golden (50th) Jubilee, more than 56,000 boys converged on the area. That year’s motto, “For God and Country,” seemed appropriate, especially since the weekend’s church offerings were characterized by The New York Times as “the largest programs of public worship in modern history.”
According to the official tally, over 44,000 boys attended a weekend church service here in Colorado Springs – 30,000 were in the main arena for Protestant worship, 12,000 were accounted for at Catholic Mass, 2000 for the Jewish services – and 150 for the Buddhist liturgy.
Contrast the 1960 event with the National Jamboree that just concluded last week in West Virginia, where 15,000 gathered for a 10-day event. The precipitous drop isn’t too surprising given the organization has lost half of its members since 2020, and is it any wonder?
Despite its victory at the Supreme Court back in 2000, when the High Court ruled the private organization didn’t need to compromise its convictions concerning homosexuality, the Boy Scouts have caved on nearly every level. In 2015, they began admitting homosexual men. In 2017, girls who identified as boys were allowed, and in 2018, all other girls were told they could join, too.
The Boy Scouts filed for bankruptcy in 2020, a decision they say was triggered by lawsuits over sexual abuse claims – and declining membership.
And yet, consider the introduction of the reporting from the Washington Post from this year’s Jamboree:
Amid the hundreds of tents erected for the Boy Scouts of America’s National Jamboree, one especially stands out — decorated with a canopy of LGBTQ Pride flags and a string of multicolored lights, its tables covered with bowls of rainbow bracelets, pronoun stickers and diversity patches.
“This is my entire world,” said 18-year-old River Capell, a scout volunteer from Northern Virginia who describes themselves as nonbinary and pansexual. Since the jamboree began last week, Capell has had plenty of company under the huge canvas. “There’s been days where there’s 2,000 kids in this tent alone. And that is just, like, absurd.”
To be fair, the Post does disclose some of the Boy Scouts’ woes, but only deeper into the story, which highlighted the organization’s “more welcoming tent.”
Of course, “welcoming” is in the eye of beholder. Tens of thousands of Christians have jettisoned the Boy Scouts after feeling very unwelcome, with many pitching their proverbial and literal tents with Trail Life USA, an excellent organization that unapologetically and proudly proclaims that “Our mission is to guide generations of courageous young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure.”
I suspect the Boy Scouts from the 1960 Jamboree here in Colorado Springs, unlike many of those gathered in West Virginia, would feel very much at home with our good friends at Trail Life USA.