When BSA International Commissioner Kent Clayburn and International Committee Vice Chairman Lou Paulson asked me to chair the BSA’s Messengers of Peace (MoP) Committee, I enthusiastically accepted without hesitation.
Since it’s inception in the United States in 2011, I had the pleasure to serve as the MoP Vice-Chair under the mentoring leadership of Rabbi Peter Hyman. Now, I cannot think of a better way to promote worldwide peace through the humanitarian works of Scouting in the United States and around the world.
The Boy Scouts of America has always been focused on service to others. Eagle Scout projects provide a benefit to the community. The Order of the Arrow is a Brotherhood of Cheerful Service. Scout units are often called upon to perform some type of service for their sponsoring organization, and service is a requirement for rank advancement. So, for us “service to others” has always been a part and will always be a part of who we are as Scouts and good citizens.
To me, being a Messenger of Peace, however, is more than service, it is being an Ambassador of peace and goodwill.
I remember attending a troop meeting in the Philippines. Upon arriving at an old worn building and walking up 3 flights of stairs, I was thinking of the awful condition in which these Scouts have troop meetings. Upon entering their Scout Room, I could not believe how well the room was organized and maintained. Any troop would be proud to call this their “meeting place”. My attention was then drawn to the Scouts that were lined up in formation. Each in a cleaned and pressed full Scout uniform.
In speaking with the Scoutmaster, he told me that each Scout had to earn their uniform, and once they did, they wore it with pride. The first part of the uniform was earned if the Scout showed up for a meeting for 3 consecutive meetings. Once they did, they earned the right to wear the first part of the uniform – a pair of shoes. For these Scouts were street kids. Each living on the streets of Manilla and not knowing where their next meal or home would be. But when they came to their Scout meeting, they all had full uniforms, and each worked on their Scout skills advancing in rank.
These Scouts are part of a Ticket to Life program sponsored by the World Scout Foundation with support from the Messengers of Peace. It provides a safe environment for youth to learn Scouting’s core values consistent with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals of reducing violence and respecting human rights.
Over the last few years, I have traveled to 29 countries on behalf of Scouting. I have been constantly amazed the warm and open welcome that I always received no matter where I was. Like the Manilla Troop, Scouts have opened their troop meetings, camporees, homes and their hearts for no other reason than I was a fellow Scout. Many of those friendships that have been built still exist today, despite being thousands of miles away. This to me is also being a Messenger of Peace.
As Baden-Powell wrote in 1922, we [as Scouts] are brought together as brothers and sisters from around the world in a human family, in terms of peace and goodwill.
We are Ambassadors for good will! We are Messengers of Peace!
Bray is an International Committee Vice-Chair and a member of the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board, the National Eagle Scout Association Committee, and is also a member of the Learning for Life National Executive Board serving as the National LFL Vice Chairman-Career Development responsible for the 12 Exploring Career Groups. He previously served as the World Chairman for the International Catholic Committee on Scouting, headquartered in Rome, and has been recognized by the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Saudi Araba with the Messengers of Peace Hero Award for his work in promoting peace through the World Organization of Scout Movement (WOSM) Messengers of Peace program.