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Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help 973

Posted by kdawson
from the trustworthy-loyal-helpful-friendly dept.
Lucas123 writes "The Boy Scouts of America are looking to the open-source community for help in building software to use for fundraisers, special events, and other functions, for their more than 121,000 local scout troops. Some open source advocates, who are former Boy Scouts, support the idea, despite a few reservations. According to the article, there are no plans for a scout merit badge in open source — but there has been a merit badge in computers since 1967, 'and it is possible that if the program is successful, it could eventually be used by IT-savvy scouts themselves.'"
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Boy Scouts Ask Open Source Community For Help

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  • BSA (Score:5, Funny)

    by dameron (307970) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731025) Homepage
    I thought they hated open source.
    • Re:BSA (Score:5, Informative)

      by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:37PM (#23731445) Homepage Journal
      Congrats to everyone who responded to this thread. That whizzing noise you heard was the joke going over your head.

      Parent was a joke based on the fact that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) and the Business Software Alliance (BSA) have the same three-letter abbreviation.

      Parent was referring to the second BSA (the MS mouthpieces).
  • No (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731029)

    The Boy Scouts of America actively discriminate against atheists and homosexuals despite receiving government funding. They can fuck right off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The Boy Scouts of America actively discriminate against non-Christians and homosexuals despite receiving government funding. They can fuck right off.
      There fixed it for ya.
      • Re:No (Score:5, Informative)

        by sconeu (64226) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:39PM (#23731513) Homepage Journal
        Really? Then how come the BSA has awards for Jewish members (the Ner Tamid award -- I won it back in '75), and my nephew just became an Eagle scout?
      • Re:No (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jedidiah (1196) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:46PM (#23731699) Homepage
        It doesn't matter either way.

        They are a youth organization with a charter from congress. They are an acknowledged
        military youth auxilliary organization given access to government resources. They are
        like a junior version of Sea Cadets or the CAP.

        They should be held to at least the same tolerance standards as the Army.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Chanc_Gorkon (94133)
          The BSA is NOT a "acknowledged
          military youth auxiliary organization". Here's what it is:

          The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.

          Now....for some, morals are the same as religion. To other's, they are not. Now, understand this....kids can be anything they want. If a Troop kicked you out because your gay, then they are WRONG. The rules specifically say you cannot be
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by X-bubblehead (245993)
        Here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_emblems_programs_(Boy_Scouts_of_America) [wikipedia.org] is a handy little link listing the various religious emblems boy scouts can earn. Note the vast array of Christian sects like Baha'i, Buddist, Hindu, Islam, Jewish and Zoroastrian.

        Loose your bile all you want but at least make a tiny effort to be accurate with it.
    • thirded... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by pointbeing (701902) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:44PM (#23731633)
      I have told scouts at fundraisers that the reason I don't support the Boy Scouts is because of their position on atheism and homosexuality.

      Interestingly, the Girl Scouts' official position is that they have no official position on homosexuality.

      Penn and Teller's show on the Boy Scouts was fascinating - turns out a huge chunk of the Boy Scouts is financed by the Mormon church.
      • by Holi (250190) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:05PM (#23732231)
        >Interestingly, the Girl Scouts' official position is that they have no official position on >homosexuality.

        Honestly though, that's because lesbians are hot.
      • Re:thirded... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Kozz (7764) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:13PM (#23732445)
        I'm an Eagle Scout. I don't like the "corporate" stance that the BSA has regarding religion and homosexuality. (Disclaimer: I am a straight, white Christian, for whatever that means to you)

        When it gets down to the very small community groups where troops may consist of less than 50 scouts, the leaders are parents of scouts, and so on. This is a model where adults lead and teach children -- frequently the children who need guidance and leadership the very most. I fear that outright rejection is throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

        Just an opinion, YMMV.
      • Re:thirded... (Score:4, Informative)

        by thephotoman (791574) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:29PM (#23732931) Journal

        Penn and Teller's show on the Boy Scouts was fascinating - turns out a huge chunk of the Boy Scouts is financed by the Mormon church.
        This is particularly true in the Rocky Mountains. My troop (back in the day) went to Colorado for summer camp one year, and the best two weeks of the summer were reserved for LDS (Mormon)-affiliated troops only.

        In the South, it's the Southern Baptist Church that dominates the Scouting conversation. My troop wasn't affiliated with a church (the scoutmasters were largely atheist/agnostic), and thus had some rather interesting struggles (finding meeting locations, getting feeder relationships with Cub Scout packs).

        My knowledge of Scouting in the Midwest is rather shaky, as my only contact with it was with a Methodist-associated troop (as was my original troop, from which my agnostic one split mostly because the original troop grew far too large to be managable). That said, I remember a more developed outdoors program than in my native part of the South. I don't know what things are like on the coasts.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by stickystyle (799509)

        turns out a huge chunk of the Boy Scouts is financed by the Mormon church.

        Thats probably because almost every stake (area of church buildings) has there own BSA troop. When you add up how many LDS churches there are, and that many of the young male members join the BSA troop for there stake - you get a large amount of membership funding.

        Don't try to turn basic statistics into a conspiracy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sm62704 (957197)
      They can fuck right off.

      Sorry, Mr. Blair, but you Brits aren't allowed in the Boy Scouts of America. Next time try not to be so British in your "anonymous" comment.
  • yes, well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fyngyrz (762201) * on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731033) Homepage Journal

    Absolutely, love to help 'em.

    Just as soon as they lose the institutionalized homophobia and pandering to mythology.

    Other than that, I think they're entirely deserving of assistance. And yes, I was a boy scout. :)

    Of course, I recognize that as a private organization, they have the right to such stone age views; however, I also have the right to hold them accountable for them.

    • Re:yes, well... (Score:5, Informative)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:07PM (#23732265)
      When did all of this change? I honestly don't remember all this crap on either side when I was in it.

      I was a Boyscout from '96 to '00. I went camping almost every month. I've been to Philmont. Boyscout camp every summer. I think I've learned more from that organization about live than anywhere else. I have a camp stove and fuel in my car. When I drove from LA to IN and IN to DC after graduation to 'see the country'. I would regularly eat pasta or any thing else I could cook up. (Get some eggs/bacon and have a proper breakfast instead of McDonalds).

      I learned to blow things up properly. I can set up a tent in the dark (and now half drunk). I can build a fire using a single match and stuff I gathered. I know what bark to look for for starting fire after the rain. I can cook with cast iron (and at home I use nothing else). For competition we'd boil eggs in paper cups (paper won't burn below the water line). Carried sleds on years global warming made Klondikes suck. Snow shoe, canoe, swim, shoot, high rope climb, I could go on.

      When I went to college I ran into some "city boys" that had no clue how to start a fire.

      Their idea was gasoline (stupid, diesel is better) and a torch. I suppose it would have worked, but there's a finesse in starting fires with a single match, or a bow drill, or flint and steel. It's like doing in assembly what some people use Java for.

      The only thing was our local troop met in the basement of a Methodist church.

      I can't wait until I have sons so I can get back into scouting (if they're interested).

      I suppose towards the end of my tenure we got a new Scoutmaster. No more fires over X size. We bought those Walmart popup rain flies instead of using the WWII ones that took 12 guys to setup. (And lasted 80 years longer than the walmart ones). Sort of killed it for me, plus all my friends were a year older and when they left not as entertaining. And the biggest thing that killed it was council 'from the top' decree that Camouflage was banned. How were you supposed to properly hide during capture the flag?

      But nothing of gays and atheists.
  • Tell them this: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:20PM (#23731041)
    Until they remove the "MPAA approved" copyright merit badge, dont help them in any way.

    Or... Does anybody remember THIS [arstechnica.com]? I do.
    • Re:Tell them this: (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:42PM (#23731597)
      It's a patch, not a badge. It may sound like nitpicking, but they really are different. A patch is a little something you can put on your uniform that your local BSA council can make up on the spot, usually with little or no supervision that you did anything. A merit badge is a nationally approved badge with certified councilors and a constant paper trail. It's a hell of a lot easier to make a badge than a patch.
    • Re:Tell them this: (Score:4, Informative)

      by flaming error (1041742) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:43PM (#23731621) Journal
      There has never been a "Copyright merit badge" - that was just a cloth patch associated with some misguided local event.
  • by pestie (141370) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:22PM (#23731081) Homepage
    The Boy Scouts still discriminate against atheists and homosexuals. They're also a huge organization with no shortage of cash, and they're infiltrated by ultra-conservative Mormons and other Jesus freaks [about.com]. They're just looking for something for free. Fuck 'em.
  • by SeattleGameboy (641456) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:23PM (#23731125) Journal
    I wonder if anybody can help out or do they only want help from hetersexual and religious programmers?

    Wouldn't it be bit of a double standard if they won't allow atheists and homosexuals to join, but will gladly accept free labor from them?
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:28PM (#23731237)
    My kid was told that he couldn't join, because he said that he didn't believe in their "supreme being". One scout leader, high example of morality that they are, told him to "just lie", but he would not. I should support a group like this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kennon (683628)
      It's so weird how the BSA has, (or not) become some kind of religious group. Back in the mid-80's in central California I was a member of Cub Scouts for 4 years and a Boy Scout little over 2 years and have zero recollection of anything religion-like being part of the experience. We didn't even pray before meals. We played Dungeons and Dragons on camp outs and listened to Pink Floyd and learned wilderness survival, hunting and fishing and read Popular Mechanics magazine and built stuff. The experience was co
  • by kfort (1132) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:30PM (#23731289)
    If they are serious about the values of open source, why don't they offer a bounty as incentive to write the software?
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:34PM (#23731383)
    What would make sense is a track toward earning the Computing/IT merit badge that was heavy on open-source development and programming.

    BTW sorry for attempting to be on-topic; feel free to continue the ranting... (hello -1 karma!)
  • by FishAdmin (1288708) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:37PM (#23731471)
    Everyone has the right to withhold their help from ANY organization whose ideals or methods they don't agree with, and I'll be the first one to support that expression of your beliefs. However, all that I've found the Boy Scouts do is stand on their expressed belief system. They don't agree with homosexuality, and they believe in God, but I've yet to see them march against homosexuality or bbeat children that were found to be Athiest. Please make sure you don't label "disagreement" the same thing as "hatemongering". Everyone has a right to disagree; no one has the right to prosecute another for their beliefs, as long as those beliefs don't infringe upon the rights of another. Withhold or provide your support as you see fit, but don't think that just because someone doesn't agree with you that means they hate you. As for the MPAA...there's no real defense on that one. Sorry, LA Scout branch: that was simply stupid. Teach your kids not to steal ANYTHING; don't limit your lessons to music and movies.
    • Please make sure you don't label "disagreement" the same thing as "hatemongering".

      Another well-known "club" has a set of beliefs (based on the same book, ironically enough) whereby they don't allow blacks and Jews to join. Would you call their stance "hatemongering" or "disagreement"?
  • BSA (Score:4, Funny)

    by phrostie (121428) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:37PM (#23731475)
    just wait till the BSA finds out what the BSA is doing
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:50PM (#23731813)
    I'm a strong Libertarian, a professional Linux programmer, _and_ a Sunday School teacher. My church (Unity) is Christian, while openly accepting gays and atheists / agnostics.

    Our old pastor was an Eagle Scout, but wouldn't allow us to sponsor a Scout Troop because of the homosexuality issue. Our new pastor is fine with us sponsoring a Scout Troop.

    I am 100% in agreement with the sentiments of all the other posts in this article, namely disgust with the BSA's infiltration by Mormons, pandering to the MPAA/RIAA, and prejudice against gays and non-Christians.

    Why then, you may be asking, would I still spend time and effort sponsoring a Scout Troop? Because it's the BEST WE'VE GOT. Go ahead, show me a comparably mature organization offering the structure young men need with free access to all of the campground and other facilities.

    There are students in my Sunday School class that we've lost to juvie or worse, tragedies that could have been avoided if there was something equivalent to a Scout Troop available. Even if we ran into problems with forming an official BSA Troop, we were going to create the non-BSA equivalent (Unity Scouts or something).

    Lastly, you can be damned certain we'll be teaching the kids good principles, not the gay-bashing or whatever most /.'ers seem to think is the only thing possible.

    I say the FOSS movement should step up to bat on this one to show we're not petty, angry little children like most of the comments I've seen so far.

    -AC

    (Note: I'm only posting as AC to protect the identities of Church members and children.)
  • by cybrthng (22291) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:56PM (#23731969) Journal
    It wouldn't be much work for such a wealthy organization to use Drupal + Modules or Civic CRM integration and get everything they need.

    In fact, the software solution is going to be the easiest piece - its the hosting & infrastructure to connect and manage the scouts & train staff that will be the costly venture.
  • LOLdot (Score:3, Funny)

    by BigBlueOx (1201587) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:57PM (#23732003)
    "Boy Scouts? They're close-minded Christian big(g)ots not open-minded people like us! Fuck 'em!"
    "Yeah!"
    "Ditto!"
    "Me Too!"
    "I HATE Republicans!"
    "Yeah!"
    "Me Too!"
    "Ditto!
    "And Microsoft! I HATE Microsoft!"
    "Yeah!"
  • if they donate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by batje (818323) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:57PM (#23732007) Homepage
    a huge amount of time, effort or money to http://civicrm.org/ [civicrm.org] i guess that would be ok. then some volunteer can make them a cute pinkish template, and whoopsa!
  • Ask The MPAA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:58PM (#23732033)
    Given they're already partnering with the MPAA [arstechnica.com] for "Respect Copyrights" patches, surely they should be their first port of call rather than those evil open source pirates?

    When literature for your merit badges contains text like, "There are peer to peer groups who offer legal downloads and those who offer illegal downloads. Make a list of both. Suggest ways to detect peer to peer software like the MPAA Parent File Scan." it would be kind of hypocritical to then advocate software that's liable to be built off the kinds of tools, by the kinds of evil people, another badge already warns about.

    A huge part of the BSA is a great and honorable institution. But when it comes to institutionalizing homophobia, forcing religious beliefs and teaming up with corporate entities that demonize whole communities, it's probably not the best time to go asking for those communities for help.
  • by Esc7 (996317) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:59PM (#23732047)
    I was a boyscout. I was in it since graduating Cub scouts and stayed in until venture scouts. While not getting my eagle, I was very active and did a lot.

    Boy scouts to me was all about hanging out with my friends, going camping, going backpacking, shooting guns, making lashing structures, sailing, swimming, cooking, basket weaving, learning first aid and emergency prep, knot tying, metal working and a whole host of other things. Boy scouts was where I was introduced to DnD, the best thing to play when your'e out in the wilderness with absolutely no electricity and only your imagination. It was a wonderful experience, now as an adult my fellow scouts are my best friends and the scoutmasters are revered mentors. It helped me grow into a Man, and if I have a boy I will more than likely enroll him.

    The point is, our troop was nothing more than boys and their dads. We don't have some clergy like the church ruling our actions. In fact the scout leaders FORCED us to do EVERYTHING. We planned the trips, the meals, the transportation, the meetings, the lessons. They merely assisted and guided. What this means is that all the talk I hear now of homophobia and anti-atheist discrimination is a kind of surprise. It NEVER came up in my troop, I'd say a good majority of them weren't associated with any religion.

    The troop's views are the sum of its constituents. It's not that The Boy Scouts are passing down from on high that no gay kids are allowed. Hell I think we had at least one in our troop. Did it make a difference? No, the whole thing was about having fun, not excluding people.

    I'm sure that the troops that make the news with this, and the top level administration pandering to their evangelical base are simply made up of people who think homosexuality is a sin and atheists are immoral. Don't forget a good portion of America DOES think this. It's a reflection of a portion of the population.

    So know, that yes there are liberal troops out there that don't concern themselves with exclusion, only with the boys and making their lives better. I'm a testament to it, and I'm certain there's hundreds others like me. As time rolls the general views of America's population will change, and then so will the Scouts. Until then, denying them them help, when helping would teach an excellent lesson is unecessarily mean. I know that I will try to help if this project comes around. All the boys don't deserve to be punished for what wrong people say.

    BE PREPARED.
    • by gtx (204552) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:09PM (#23732307) Homepage
      What you're failing to account for is the fact that the rules of BSA state that these people simply cannot be a part of the organization:

      http://www.bsalegal.org/faqs-195.asp [bsalegal.org]

      So even if individual troops overlook these rules, they do so in direct opposition to the rules. I don't know about you, but I see no reason to support an organization that dismisses me due to its own ignorant definition of "immoral."
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        What you're failing to account for is the fact that the rules of BSA state that these people simply cannot be a part of the organization

        What you're failing to understand is that a local troop's interactions with the BSA are practically nil.

        Any large organization will have its share of idiotic nutjobs, especially in positions of bureaucratic authority. The question is whether the organization is so corrupt and inflexible that one does a greater wrong by engagement or by disengagement. This is a case where, for anyone not entirely ignorant of that actual character and values of actual troops in the actual world, it is obvious that engagem

      • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:09PM (#23734059) Homepage Journal

        So even if individual troops overlook these rules, they do so in direct opposition to the rules. I don't know about you, but I see no reason to support an organization that dismisses me due to its own ignorant definition of "immoral."

        Your choice. But if you ever have a son, I highly encourage you to let him be involved in scouts. The activities of most troops have nothing to do with sexual orientation or belief in God, and it's a great opportunity for boys to learn self-reliance, leadership, and have a lot of great fun.

  • by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:00PM (#23732083) Journal
    ...sense reigns:

    from the UK Scouting web site:

    ---
    Who can be a Scout?
    Scouting is open to all young people aged 6 to 25 of every faith and background.
    ---

      - so write them some software.

  • by Zorque (894011) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:09PM (#23732311)
    I think some of you people go a little too far in your support of F/OSS. Why shouldn't the scouts just have a "coding" merit badge, or better, just stick with the "computer" badge?
  • by Juneau (703789) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:19PM (#23732597)
    As an Eagle scout, a scout leader, and parent of a cub scout and a boy scout, I'd like to kick in my .02 cents.

    Our group is sponsored by a church. I don't recall us every having a prayer, or any religious leader saying anything about god. Our group is very inclusive, and I would say that most of our group has little involvement in religion. We just use the church.

    I think our scouts get a lot out of the program. They are out camping once a month. They take extended wilderness trips. They learn skills they can use in many areas of their life, including how to deal with adults, how to deal with other difficult kids, and how to lead kids. We do a lot of service projects, and our troop probably as a group does several thousand hours of service for the community - and very little of that is done for the church where we have our meetings.

    Maybe there are troops out there that push the agenda, and are right wing homophobes. But it's not our group. Even my wife, who thought boy scouts was a truly evil group, has come around to think the program is very worthwhile.

    It's the local people that make it work. Donate your time to THEM if you like, don't if you don't want to.

  • by SendBot (29932) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:24PM (#23732773) Homepage Journal
    I remember a requirement for the computers merit badge was to explain why it is wrong to make copies of games and commercial software. I wasn't fooled for a moment that the argument of piracy destroying software was valid, so I said something along the lines of paying for software that makes your business operate makes more sense than gaming companies losing over casual piracy.

    My friends and I would distribute games where everyone pays for the games they individually contribute. We just end up buying more games and learning about games we wouldn't have known about while buying future games from the same publisher/developer. Our kid money didn't carry the same weight as adults with full-time jobs (and less time to play as many games as we did), so it only made sense to pool together to maximize our gaming dollar. Despite the technical occurrences of piracy, all the money that sierra, lucasarts, bullfrog, interplay, electronic arts, sega, and nintendo (to name but a few) got from us certainly didn't hurt them any.

    For my two cents, I don't think that the BSA's homosexual discrimination policy is particularly brave [usscouts.org].

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