Approximately 5,000 Boy Scouts from across the state filled the streets in Austin on Saturday and marched to the Capitol for the 64th annual Report to State parade.
Scouts proudly carried flags and banners identifying their units as they walked up the front steps to kick off the 104th anniversary celebration of the Scouting movement.
Steve Hauschildt, Troop 222 Scoutmaster at Fort Hood, said Report to State is about much more than walking in a parade.
“For the Scouts, this is an opportunity to not only work on citizenship in the Community Merit Badge, but a chance to see their state government and how things work. On this merit badge, they learn what it means to be a good citizen in the community and what their responsibilities are in their community,” Hauschildt said. “The Scout must be able to locate government buildings and historical places of interest. The Capitol falls into both these categories.”
This merit badge is required for a Boy Scout to have in order to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, Hauschildt said.
Once inside the Capitol, Scouts were honored in the House chambers for all their achievements of the past year. Scouts from Pack 258 and Troop 258 met with Texas Supreme Court Justice Jeff Brown, said Assistant Scoutmaster Jim Imhoff.
“Justice Brown spoke to the boys about staying in and reaching their goals of becoming Eagle Scouts, even though the road is not always easy.”
The boys asked Brown what was a big issue that he has worked on and he stated “Natural gas fracking in Texas and the laws around it,” Imhoff said.
Connor Foster was one of only a handful of Scouts selected to represent his unit on the House floor to hear reports from all the units outlining their achievements over the past year.
“I am so glad I got to be a delegate this year and go inside the Capitol and hear my council’s report,” Foster said. “I was really impressed by the WEBELOS (highest rank in Cub Scouts) who gave the report for his council. That was really brave of him.”
Gov. Rick Perry, an Eagle Scout who in 2008 wrote “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For,” was absent from the event. Scout leaders said he had a prior commitment.
In 2013, Perry seized the opportunity to share his views at the event and in his book, encouraging the Boy Scouts organization to keep its strict no-gays membership policy; however, in May, the organization changed its policy allowing openly gay youth although not openly gay adult leadership to old membership. The new policy took effect Jan. 1.
Roughly 22,000 boys and young men and women (in Venture Crew) are members of the Boy Scouts in Central Texas.