The shadows of the uniformed boys danced across the forest floor before the crackling fire as they chant their oath once again while their leader stands in the back, arms folded, nodding in quiet approval.
GREEN CREEK, VIRGINIA. For the most part, Green Creek is best described as quiet, suburban, and old-fashioned. But tonight one of their many tranquil forests has been garrisoned by a group known across America.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), founded in 1910 as a member of the umbrella organization “International Scout Movement” began as a program to indoctrinate young people using a system called “The Scout Method”, and was adopted in early Nazi Germany by Hitler who modeled the “Hitler Youth” after their American counterparts. The Hitler Youth spread terror throughout the Jewish communities in Europe, and many of the young men rose through the ranks to become Nazi officers. Today, the BSA has hundreds of thousands of independent “troops” across America, with membership climbing over 100 million.
In Lemon County alone, there are seven troops containing over five hundred scouts. In the town of Green Creek, we’re following troop 315 (Order of the Cooing Owlbear). The troop is small by BSA standards, containing only fifteen members. Led by Scout Leader Nathan Preston Hackert, the boys will learn what they consider the most important skills a young man should have, skills that include marksmanship, efficient knife-wielding habits, how to start, control and effectively utilize fire, and
“These boys are tomorrow’s future. They are tomorrow’s leaders. They are a symbol of this nation’s new beginning.” Scout Leader Hackert was discharged from the army in 1999, and went into work for Xe Services (formerly known as Blackwater). He refused to divulge the nature of his services. “The past is the past. The future is now.”
Hackert has all the habits of a military man. He barks everything he says. He stands perfectly straight, and he examines everything with a critical eye, wary of any imperfection. “The foundation of a good man is a good example,” he explained.
After the rituals of singing and chanting are through, Hackert disappears into the dark woods. In an hour, the boys will leave the campground and begin their search in a game Hackert refers to as “Man Hunt”. The forest is dark and treacherous, but Hackert assures reporters that the scouts know what they’re doing. Their months of training definitely showed through as they tracked down Hackert in little over a half hour. The boys begin their celebration almost immediately, cheering and saluting each other, but the excitement doesn’t last long as Hackert gazes sternly across the small band. Each boy quickly stands upright, completely silent.
“Well done, scouts. Did you stay down wind? Did you set up the traps?”
“Yes, sir,” the boys chanted in unison. “Stay with me,” Hackert whispered to reporters. “Some of these traps can really do some damage.”
Not all these boys grow up to become the “new beginning” that Hackert had in mind. Dennis Rader, also known as the “BTK Killer”, was a serial killer whose modus operandi was “bind, torture, kill” hence his namesake. He’s also a former BSA member.
“A tragic misunderstanding” Hackert says of the brutal murders. “Because of the intense training these young men are subjected to, sometimes the stress is too much for them. Some people just can’t handle it.” Later, Hackert went on to describe the slayings: “Very efficient. When you look at the evidence, his training with the scouting program really shows through. Really a fine piece of work.”
As the sun sets over Green Creek, the scouts are hard at work again, executing training exercises and close-order drills in the wilderness outside the sleepy town. All across the nation, the same ritual will be taking place every evening after school lets out. As the evening’s exercises come to a close, Hackert paces back and forth before the formation of uniformed boys.
“You young men are the future, the last bastion of integrity in a state of moral decadence. You’re the resistance; the hope of the nation.”
Previously published http://usfmonocle.com/2009/09/rethinking-the-boy-scouts-a-legacy-of-violence/