Local Boy Scouts Parents Try to Stay Positive After "Perversion Files"

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

The overnight at Burchfield Park this weekend is 11-year-old Zach Gietzel's last step before he's officially a boy scout.

It's part of a 90th Anniversary Celebration for the Chief Okemos Council before it is reorganized into the state-wide council.

"I'm really excited about camping and cooking our dinner," Zach said.

His dad's only concern is getting him that badge. Tim Gietzel isn't worried about the document accusing more than a thousand people of abusing boy scouts, including some in Michigan.

"I didn't really pay much attention to it," Gietzel said. "I kind of shrugged it off. It doesn't affect me, I know what our troop is all about and we don't have any problem with that."

Others at the event believe parents have a right to be concerned and should be.

"It will definitely be a topic for the whole weekend," Wally Foley, the treasurer for Troop 663 in Eaton Rapids said. "It opens everybody eyes because we do get complacent, and there's nothing wrong with asking questions."

Before events like the Camporee all the adults, be them leaders or parent volunteers, are required to go through a youth safety training.

"You don't allow yourself to be put in a position where you're one-on-one with scouts," Foley said. "Where an individual scout could have accusations and stuff like that happen. It's all always two adults, ideally two scouts. You protect yourself and you protect the scouts."

Before these scouts join the statewide council for good, parents wanted them to enjoy this last outing and set aside the recent negativity.

"I hope the boys can just have fun and move forward," Karen Bearndt, a mother of two boy scouts said. "See what the new era is going to bring."

Gietzel hope the new era includes that new badge and many more to come.

"I feel confident in what we have here, and I'm proud to be a dad of scout," Gietzel said.

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