By Christy Strawser
DETROIT (CBS Detroit) A summer rite of passage in the dog days of summer won’t be available to Boy Scouts at their camps or other activities because the group recently announced a ban on the use of water guns for anything other than target practice and a limit on water balloons.
“Water guns and rubber band guns must only be used to shoot at targets, and eye protection must be worn,” reads page 99 of the 2015 Boy Scout handbook.
The new rule for water balloons dictates their size and origin — no more puffed up balls of latex for traditional water balloon fights.
“For water balloons, use small, biodegradable balloons, and fill them no larger than a ping pong ball,” page 100 of the handbook adds.
The news was revealed in a blog post in Scouting Magazine, written by Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, who is is senior editor of “Boys’ Life,” “Scouting” and “Eagles’ Call” magazines.
“Why the rule?” Wendell added. “A Scouter once told me this explanation I liked quite a bit: “A Scout is kind. What part of pointing a firearm [simulated or otherwise] at someone is kind?”
The position was not received well by commentators on the blog.
“What a load of politically correct crap. What’s the point of super-soakers if you don’t shoot them at others to get wet and cool off on a hot day?” wrote a guy who identified himself as Dave. “And water balloons no bigger than a ping-pong ball? Have you ever been hit by a water balloon that isn’t big enough to explode? It hurts more than one that is properly filled. This is such a load of BSA garbage!!!!”
Others, obviously past Boy Scouts or pack leaders themselves, pointed out on the blog how much fun was had at Boy Scout camps with water balloons and water guns. One says the rules show “how out of touch national is.”
Fully in support of the rules is the Michigan Crossroads Council of Boy Scouts of America, which serves more than 68,000 youth statewide.
“Our mission is to prepare young people for life and part of that duty is to ensure our youth become civically-minded adults,” said Michigan Crossroads Marketing and Communications director Kerrie Mitchell. “Pointing a simulated firearm at another individual is not aligned with our Scout Oath nor Scout Law.”
She added: “We can understand some may feel this ban is extreme but preparing young people for life starts in a child’s most impressionable years. We are committed to our mission here statewide, locally, and nationally.”
The scouts got attention for something considered progressive last month when they announced the hiring of the first openly gay Eagle Scout as a summer camp leader in New York.