While I don’t like tackling social issues here on the site since we mainly cover movies, games, television shows, music, etc. this really broke my heart.  It really did.  So I wanted to add my two cents.  Just a few days ago the family of Boy Scout Reid Comita sued the Boy Scouts of America for wrongful death (you can read the MSN article by clicking here).  At age 15 Reid died of heat stroke while backpacking with the Scouts.

When my son was in Boy Scouts I’d, from time to time, go out camping with the Scouts. I thought the Scouts, overall, were a pretty good experience for him. I thought the leadership was good and so was the camaraderie – at times. I was pretty sure that most of the dads participated each and every camping trip just to get away from their wives. Me? I was there to support my son. He asked me to go and I went. Simple as that.

There were two times that the Scouts made me pretty angry.

One time my son was taking part in the Scouts Klondike Derby which tests the Scouts leadership ability and scout skills. At one station the kids had to accomplish putting up a tent blindfolded. One Scout was not blindfolded – he directed the other Scouts who were. This particular scout was among the scout leadership at the event. He directed everyone… except my kid. My son would ask, “Hey, what am I supposed to do?” The other kid ignored him. When the task was done the leader was told that they had failed the task. Why? Because my son wasn’t doing anything. Do you know what this young leader then did? Berated my son for not doing anything. I’ll admit that it is never easy to be a leader – especially as a kid. I’m sure that kid tried his best to get the goal accomplished. But when he failed the task at hand the kid lashed out. The parent who was overseeing this group? Didn’t bother to step in. Didn’t bother to let that Scout know that sometimes you lose. That sometimes it is okay to lose.  It didn’t so much piss me off that the kid lashed out (I mean…he’s a kid) but it pissed me off that the adult did not step in.  He missed a clear opportunity to teach a lesson on what being a leader is.  It REALLY pissed me off but I held my tongue.

On another camping trip we all went on what was supposed to be a 4.5 mile hike. The hike ended up being around 10 miles. Most of that was vigorous climbing up hill. The party got lost once. The kids were exhausted. I was exhausted. My kid fell and got hurt. He was really hurting but unfortunately we were at a point in this 10 mile journey that you just needed to keep going. Power through. I’ll give it to my kid and ALL of the kids hiking that day. They persevered and made it through. It was tough. It was hard. But they did it. My kid was proud. I was proud of him. Personally I slept like a baby that night.

But here’s the rub. That hike wasn’t supposed to be 10 miles. Was the hike dangerous? I really don’t believe it was. We weren’t hiking in 100 degree heat in Texas. It was a nice April day. We all had food, we all had water. But could something have happened because of a lack of proper planning? I would think absolutely. It’s why in the military I had Troop Leading Procedures pounded into my head as an Officer. You try to plan as best as you can. But you know what? Even with the best planning everything can still goes to hell. Happens in the military. It can certainly happen with the Boy Scouts.

I like the idea of discipline, respect, and camaraderie with the kids. Ultimately I think the Boy Scouts are great for instilling those qualities in kids. Plus it gets kids outside where they aren’t sitting around playing on their phones for 12 hours a day. In the military it could actually be pretty fun bivouacking.

I thought that the Boy Scouts would teach both kids and adults how to read a map.  As that 4 mile hike turned into a 10 mile hike I will say that this wasn’t the case. They may have need a FM 3-25.26 (Map Reading and Land Navigation). Mistakes happen. I get it. But when you are adults taking these kids out you better be supervising them and you better be damn sure you are not putting someone else’s children in harm’s way.

Reid Comita wanted to become an Eagle Scout. That is really hard to achieve and is an amazing feat to accomplish. Reid was on his way to meeting his goal and this three day backpacking trip that he never came back from was helping him towards Eagle Scout. What did he die from?  Heat stroke. A hell of a way to go. So whose fault is it? Was Reid drinking enough water? Was there someone there directing him to do so? Were they actually looking out for his well being? Or was the attitude that they needed to tough it out?  Were they even cognizant?  In the military we would always hear the familiar call of “DRINK WATER!” (usually followed with a “BEAT THE HEAT!”).  I’m positive in the military these things happen all the time – but I bet those soldiers train like that to learn how to survive. That is survival training. Reid was taking part in Intro to Backpacking.

Of course there’s waivers to be signed as the Boy Scouts organization try to get out of responsibility if something happens. But those waivers are just bullshit if there is no leadership there looking out for the best interests of someone else’s kid. Here’s the thing – there was no adult with Reid. Just two others: an eighteen year old kid along with a fourteen year old. That was it. Do you think that they were prepared? Was that eighteen year old physically and mentally prepared himself? Not just for his own safety but the safety of others?  It’s doubtful.

My heart goes out to the Comita family.  You are not alone.  I hope your community is supporting you like the rest of the world is.