Boy Scout Training: “Put him on his face and put a knee in his back”

Boy Scouts
From the “Not The Onion” files comes a tale that I can’t even believe, much less figure out how to respond to. Is this really what the Boy Scouts are becoming?

The Explorers program, a coeducational affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America that began 60 years ago, is training thousands of young people in skills used to confront terrorism, illegal immigration and escalating border violence — an intense ratcheting up of one of the group’s longtime missions to prepare youths for more traditional jobs as police officers and firefighters.

“This is about being a true-blooded American guy and girl,” said A. J. Lowenthal, a sheriff’s deputy here in Imperial County, whose life clock, he says, is set around the Explorers events he helps run. “It fits right in with the honor and bravery of the Boy Scouts.”

The training, which leaders say is not intended to be applied outside the simulated Explorer setting, can involve chasing down illegal border crossers as well as more dangerous situations that include facing down terrorists and taking out “active shooters,” like those who bring gunfire and death to college campuses. In a simulation here of a raid on a marijuana field, several Explorers were instructed on how to quiet an obstreperous lookout.

“Put him on his face and put a knee in his back,” a Border Patrol agent explained. “I guarantee that he’ll shut up.”

One participant, Felix Arce, 16, said he liked “the discipline of the program,” which was something he said his life was lacking. “I want to be a lawyer, and this teaches you about how crimes are committed,” he said.

Cathy Noriego, also 16, said she was attracted by the guns. The group uses compressed-air guns — known as airsoft guns, which fire tiny plastic pellets — in the training exercises, and sometimes they shoot real guns on a closed range.

“I like shooting them,” Cathy said. “I like the sound they make. It gets me excited.”

There is so much wrong here that I don’t know where to start. Maybe putting a 15-year-old into a bulletproof vest and running him through a course where his goal is to take down “active shooters” is one problem, since — you know — that’s such a HUGE part of the average cop’s day, would be a problem. Radley Balko, in his excellent work over at The Agitator, regularly points out the problematic aspects of training our police to be excitedly enacting para-military fantasies. There’s a fundamental difference between “to protect and serve” and seeing every person on the street as a potential “active shooter”.

When I was a kid, “troop leader” didn’t involve fatigues and a bulletproof vest.

But hey, this is the Boy Scouts, so it’s still a family-friendly environment:

Just as there are soccer moms, there are Explorers dads, who attend the competitions, man the hamburger grill and donate their land for the simulated marijuana field raids.

So don’t worry, fellas… You can avoid the humdrum days spent in your cubicle as a CPA or marketing nitwit by living vicariously through your kids, as they storm terrorist strongholds in Omaha, stem the illegal alien tide in California, or make the world safe from marijuana. Folks like Kathryn Johnston and Angel Raich are evil and must be stopped, and you need to bring train the next generation to bring the necessary firepower to handle them.

Hat Tip: Radley Balko

  • silvermine

    It’s just them. I was an explorer in two different posts. One was at a company that did electron microscopy and the other was at a fire department.

    So, uh, mostly we went camping and talked about fire hose pressure and/or how you use gold to coat the microscope samples. :P

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  • Red

    I’m sure this isn’t the trend at large but so what? Obama wants his “hitler youth” so why not let the citizenry “be prepared” for whatever may come?

  • tarran

    Please note that most of these guys are probably not Obama supporters but more of the Republican “Country First!” crowd – in other words, useful idiots ready to serve whatever totalitarian is running the country.

  • Tom Knighton

    Explorers aren’t like regular Boy Scouts. They focus on one particular profession and learn about it (short version). I’m 85% sure that this was just one thing this Explorer Post did and partially because they kids would think it’s cool. When you’re competing with everything leaders have to compete with, you take advantage of what you can.

  • southernjames

    Well since this article came from the venerated NY Times, we can all rest assured that great care was taken to make sure the information was presented in a fair and objective manner….that no quotes were presented out of context; that there was no underlying agenda one way or another in terms of putting any sort of “slant” on the report, to impact the reader’s impression or image of what this specific group is actually doing with the kids.

  • Jeff Knoll

    While the Boy Scouts of America (the corporation) provides materials and support for both the Exploring Program and Boy Scouting program, the two programs are unrelated. Explorer Posts are generally run by governement agencies such as police and fire departments. That agency or organization is responsible for the details of the program they offer to the youth, as well as providing the adult leadership. The group highlighted has nothing to do with Boy Scouts. Either the writer is totally ignorant or is intentionally trying to mislead his readers.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Are you saying that the kids were not practicing urban warfare techniques, and that the NYTimes was incorrect? Because regardless of how you spin it, I think teaching 16-year-old kids that being a policeman is about “storming the castle” is bound to end badly. Of course, the extent police work has actually become about dressing up like a soldier and storming the castle is the real problem…


    The Boy Scouts have choices of whether or not to participate with specific departments or send kids on specific posts. While I completely agree that the BSA is not operating these posts, they are certainly not unrelated organizations. If they don’t have some oversight over where kids go and what they do at each Explorer post, they’re not doing their jobs.

  • southernjames

    I’m not spinning a thing. The unanswered question is to what extent is the NY Times putting a spin on this, in the manner in which they choose to describe what is being taught to the kids about law enforcement, etc.

    I’d like to see other stories on this. And then I can make an informed opinion as to what the Explorers in general or this branch or whatever they call themselves in particular, are doing.

    This is the same paper that, if Obama trips and falls on his face, they’ll report it as Obama leaping to the ground in order to heroically stabilize the horizontal surface of the earth so that it won’t tilt.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Is there some spin in the initial story? Undoubtedly. They want to present the emotional aspect, and I’m sure there is more than a little of “opinion” mixed in with this news story.

    But as with any other news story, it’s still possible to read through the spin and see that there are some actual facts there.

  • tfr

    Spin or no spin, Boy Scouts or somebody else, can any of you look at the photos in this article and not get the creeps? Militarizing kids – does this seem like a good idea?

  • TheFlamingoKing

    In another article on your site, “The Nanny State vs. The Family, 2009 Edition”, you clearly advocate that a 13 yr old, combined with his parents, is old enough to make decisions regarding their own life, as the state has no right to interfere.

    Does it not make sense, then, that these 15 and 16 yr old men and women are capable of making their own decisions, especially since they need parental permission to participate? No one is forcing them to participate. Comparing this to Hitler Youth like so many have is really a poor comparison, similar to mentioning “Big Brother” because WalMart has video cameras installed.

    Your comment above shows the most insight, in that the real problem is “the extent police work has actually become about dressing up like a soldier and storming the castle”. A kid wanting to be a policeman should not be frowned upon, especially just because a majority of us have problems with authority or some bad previous experiences. A teenager playing with airsoft rifles and paintballs should be just another possible path for a teenager – we want freedom after all. The real problem is the police and the people – the police for dehumanizing the people they should be protecting and the people for accepting a militarized state.

  • Brad Warbiany


    Just FYI, I wrote this article while the Nanny State article you referred to was written by Doug Mataconis.

    That being said, my ire is not at the parents or kids for taking part in this program; it is with the BSA for being a part of it, and with the police departments for conducting it in this manner. I see it as encouraging all the wrong aspects of police work, and by doing so, likely attracting the wrong types of kids to the badge.

    But I think we are in agreement on the last point. The real problem is what policing has become.

  • nader paul kucinich gravel

    The guilty need & want a very large Police State to protect themselves.
    Scouting is now being used to indoctrinate.

    911 & anthrax lies
    Federal reserve banker lies
    Israel-first dual-national AIPAC extortion blackmail bribery lies

  • Marcel L.

    Yeah this article is a little frightening. Didn’t the Nazi’s have some sort of youth program where adults and grown ups provided guidance for children who didn’t know any better? People this age shouldn’t be subjected to this sort of paranoia. They’ll grow up with these thoughts that they “gotta get a gun, gotta protect the family”.

    Also saw a short little essay by someone in middle or high school (wasn’t sure). He was confused by the article and even emailed one of the police officer’s in the program. Check it out here

  • Grace Arroyo

    I am disgusted with what I am reading. How dare this Explorer program a ” coeducational affiliate of the Boys Scouts” teach our young kids to fight. There has been so much violence related with our young kids that this disgusting program is training our children to fight agasinst “illegal immigration” first of all these are people who have had to immigrate into the United States without a VISA (a piece of paper) in order to help their families not starve to death. It is the ignorance of anti-immigrants, who are racist and believe that these people who have come in undocumented are criminals. My son he is 13 years of age and has proudly been a a boys scout for years and is working towards his eagle badge, my son has been taught to be noble, fair and kind andI truely believed in the Boys Scouts now I will contact the leaders of his troop and let them know of this shocking “coeducational program” I do not want my son near it nor to be open to being even approached by this explorer program. I believe in the United States of America that is a country built on immigrants who worked hard and died for this great country they would all be disgusted with this program of hatred and violence.

  • southernjames

    “First of all these are people who have had to immigrate into the United States without a VISA (a piece of paper) in order to help their families not starve to death. It is the ignorance of anti-immigrants, who are racist and believe that these people who have come in undocumented are criminals.”

    Oh you are SO right, Grace! We should not have borders at all! Why have them? After all, what is now supposedly “Texas” and “California” was once part of Mexico anyway! People who don’t go through that silly “paperwork” process which can take several years, should not be characterized as doing anything “illegal” because doing something “illegal” is, by definition a “criminal” act. According to you, the are LEGAL, but just “undocumented” right? Borders imply a barrier, which then means there would be some sort of border control, which is pointless. Everyone coming across the “border” is legal and not illegal, so let’s just get rid of the border altogether.

    As for my ancestors who applied and then waited and hoped to get offically approved to come here — bah! They were suckers! And my Jamaican secretary has a brother in England who is desparate to get out – no job, hungry, needs to support his family. But she is distraught – it will take him several years to do it the “legal” – oops, my bad – I mean to say the “documented” way. So I’m going to tell her to just have him come over on a boat to Mexico – come ashore in Cancun and start hitch hiking in a northerly direction! Problem solved.

    Why shouldn’t your logic extend to other areas too? My daughter and her friends have started driving. I don’t think they should bother with any silly “piece of paper” licence to make it “legal.” Why can’t they just be “undocumented” drivers? I’ve taught her how to drive – she is a good driver. And my son has a friend who performs a valuable public service in selling pain reduction and relaxation pharmaceuticals to people in need. How dare anyone call him a “drug dealer!” He is simply an “undocumented” pharmacist. As I’ve pointed out on another thread, I’ve been waiting over 3 months for the state to issue me my concealed carry permit. BAH humbug to that “piece of paper,” making it “legal” stuff. I think I am going to just be an “undocumented” but fully “legal” conceal carry holder.

    Dispensing with silly “paperwork” and “document” requirements and those rules and regulations, is very liberating.

  • Brad Warbiany


    I suggest you read this post on immigration I wrote way back in 2006. I think it’s a cogent enough argument to get you to rethink the point about it being illegal, therefore these people are dangerous “criminals”. Yes, they broke the law, but in this case, the law is an ass.

    Oh, and I do have a question for you… You said:

    As for my ancestors who applied and then waited and hoped to get offically approved to come here — bah! They were suckers!

    So you’re saying that your ancestors came over after the 1920’s? Because prior to that, the US had no meaningful limits on European immigration. I can’t say that my ancestors (late 19th-century) waited for “approval”, because there was no approval process at the time.

    Ask yourself this: would your ancestors — or mine — be allowed to immigrate here today? Would this country be a better place if your ancestors — or mine — were barred from entry several generations ago?

    Is there any moral or ethical argument you have for restricting immigration beyond “well, they’re one person beyond the quota, so they should just get back in line and wait for their number to be called.”

  • southernjames

    First, some of my ancestors preceded the American Revolution. I would agree that they were not turned away – at least from settling in areas where there were similar demographics. The ones who came at the turn of the century were unskilled peasants. Some of those (approximately 2%) WERE turned away at Ellis Island. If you appeared to have jaundice or some other malady you also ran the risk of being rejected. My ancestors were, from family accounts, scared shitless they would be rejected.

    But you are correct – there was no formal “application” process.

    I generally agree rather than disagree with most of your 2006 post.

    What I take very strong exception to is when I am presented with THIS either/or scenario:

    a) You are either in favor of calling illegal aliens “undocumented immigrants,” OR,
    b) You are an anti-immmigration racist.

    A couple of very minor quibbles with your post.

    “To the Mexican government, sending their most productive citizens north, and having them sending back money every week, allows them to avoid fixing the corruption in their own system.”

    I had a secretary who is married to a former Mexican who immigrated here LEGALLY, 25 years ago, and who owns a construction business which employs hispanic workers. She and he would strongly disagree with your assertion that we are getting Mexico’s ‘most productive’ citizens. To the contrary the Mexican govt. encourages the most illiterate and unskilled bottom of the barrel to come north as its “safety valve.”

    And having workers flood north, with no intention whatsoever of “assimilating” but instead clinging (in many cases aggressively) to their own language and culture, and for the purpose of “sending money back home” hardly qualifies as the “pursuit of the American Dream” both your ancestors and mine sought.

    “And to business owners, the cheap labor allows them to offload much of the social cost of the people they hire (sometimes even paying cash under the table to avoid taxes), forcing the rest of us to pick up the slack with our tax burden.”

    And this is a good thing, because….?

    “When America has a 4.7% unemployment rate, the argument that our jobs will suffer becomes a tough sell.” Not as tough a sell when it is 12% and growing, is it.

    I don’t think it is logistically possible, moral, or humane to “ship back” 12 million illegals. But amnesty without secured borders is a joke (although it is most certainly coming our way). In a dozen years, there will be a clamour (and a LOT more political muscle to make it happen) to give amnesty to the NEXT 12 million.

    What irony – Mexicans wanting to escape Mexico because of the massive corruption, lack of respect for the Rule of Law, etc., and then through sheer uncontrolled raw numbers combined with some intentional actions (La Raza?), ultimately turning the southwest, for their poor unfortunate descendants, into what they wanted to get away from in the first place. The culture of greasing the palm of the right person to get whatever you want, common in Mexico – and which allows you to get into the USA ahead of the people who try to ‘play by the rules,’ is not exactly the societal evolutionary pattern we should be encouraging and rewarding. IMO.

    ALL countries have immigation policies. ALL of them. Including Mexico, which has a hell of a lot tighter southern border than we do. Because we were once a wide open Frontier with seemingly unlimitless land (once the natives were brutally shoved aside of course) is not a legitimate argument for open borders, today. I say:

    1. Completely overhaul – I mean from top to bottom – GUT it, and start over… the current immigration system. It is ludicrous that it takes thousands of $$ and years of effort to come here LEGALLY.
    2. Seal the border. Yes it can be done, and at a cost probably lower than what California pays to house 1/3 of its prison population, consisting of people who should not be here in the first place.
    3. The 12 million will mostly (and many already have in this economy) “self-deport” if employment laws are properly enforced. For the remainder, (including people who have been here for decades, raised a family, etc.) create a humane and workable amnesty-type program.
    4. Whatever the current allowable rate is for LEGAL immigration from Mexico….whatever it is….100,000/yr? 200,000/yr?…TRIPLE it. If 100,000 people come here legally from Mexico each year – I sure as heck have no problem with it being 300,000 or more, instead.
    5. Create, some sort of Guest Worker program (as you mentioned in your article) where they are registered; properly ID’ed; can be deported instead of housed in our prisons if they commit a crime; are paid the lawful minimum wage instead of exploited for low cash wages, etc.

  • Brad Warbiany

    a) You are either in favor of calling illegal aliens “undocumented immigrants,” OR,
    b) You are an anti-immmigration racist.

    I also take exception to this. However, you won’t disagree that “illegal alien” is a somewhat loaded term. Americans, by and large, consider themselves a law-abiding people. They often explain-away lawbreaking (such as speeding) as if it doesn’t matter, but that’s a bit of internal dissonance that many seem to apply only to themselves and not to others.

    Illegal immigrants are undoubtedly breaking the law to be here. That is undisputed. But rather than debate what we call them, I suggest we debate whether or not the law is just. By focusing on the term illegal alien, those who actually are anti-immigration racists (and believe me, if you’ve been around here for some of our nuttier commenters you’ll agree that there are quite a few of them) can play to Americans’ general law-abiding nature rather than discussing the merits of the law.

    Call them what you want, but don’t let the term get in the way of debating what we should do with them! The term “illegal alien” shouldn’t be the end of the debate.

  • Brad Warbiany

    Regarding the rest of your quibbles with my earlier post:

    1) I generally think it is the most mobile of society who are willing/able to get the hell out of a situation where they have no opportunity and into a situation where they have some. In some cases, that may not be true (where Mexico’s wealthier folks get entrenched with the local corrupt government and use their newfound “friends” to fleece the populace), but those who are willing and able to move for employment are (IMHO) more adaptable and capable of thriving in the new location. Perhaps this is just my bias, though.

    2) Regarding the rest of us “picking up the slack”, no that’s not a good thing. But that would be less of an issue if you actually find a way to legalize their presence.

    3) I had a feeling the 9%+ unemployment issue would come up. But there’s a funny thing about that… When there are no jobs to be had, they stop coming! Don’t you feel good to live in an economy that is so bad that it no longer even attracts immigrants?

    It sounds like we are in rough agrement on the prescription to solve this (although I’d probably be more liberal on quotas than even your tripling of the number). I think we need to normalize the system so that we can discern the difference between those who want to come here to work, those who want to come here with a path towards citizenship, and those who shouldn’t be here at all. Right now they’re all in the “illegal” bucket, and that doesn’t make sense to us or to them.

  • thomas worley age 13

    this is pure nazism and totally rascist against the mexican culture boy scouts should be learning about how to survive the outdoors and learning CPR not learning to search for undocumented people the government is being to corrupt in this situation and probably right now this message is being looked at by the government through operation echelon or looking through every email text message phone call or comment. but also scouts was meant to learn important skills not counter terrorism or border violence. this is nazist because before, the nazis believed in creating a master race and getting rid of inferiors. the government is treating the undocumented as criminals and inferiors but they are not they are hard working people that are nice and friendly most of the people are undocumented because 1. don’t have enough money 2. the us government makes the green cards very expensive so the Mexican people cant come in. all the green card is a piece of paper that’s it this message is coming from a 13 year old boy scout thats just sad this should not be right. our country is meant to be a clean slate for other cultures to come and start a new life. where mexicans can help the american people. right now are people are too scared to speak against this issue well as v put it “people should not be afraid of their government the government should be afraid of their people” this program is disgusting, cruel, nazist, rascist. if i become president i hope the creators of this program will be be given their resignation papers the following day. especially that sheriff deputy whatever he is says “its a chance to be a true blooded american whatever!! a true american is someone who is tolerant of other cultures, friendly, and trustworthy not some overly republican red neck madman!

  • southernjames

    Thomas, age 13. Go read a history book and learn what Nazism really is. And a little punctuation here and there will serve you well in life. Or at the very least, it will make your contributions to discussion boards readable.

    Back to Brad,

    “When there are no jobs to be had, they stop coming!” They also self deport. So the “we can’t deport them all” argument has always been b.s.

    “Don’t you feel good to live in an economy that is so bad that it no longer even attracts immigrants?” No. Not at all. I hate what our government has done and is continuing to do to our economy and our country. And has the LEGAL application process slowed down with this economy?

    In terms of the use of the word “illegal alien” I believe in correct and precise use of language. That describes exactly what they are, no more and no less, whether the “law is an ass” or not.

    Whether the law should be changed – and I don’t see how it can be absent blanket amnesty (and to grant someone “amnesty” there must, by definition, have been a breaking of a law first, for which the amnesty then will apply) and/or eliminating any and all legal restrictions for entering this country – well — that can be debated. But that does not change what the law is right now, and what they are, from a definitional standpoint, right now.

    And to re-define those residents with the politically correct but ludicrous phrase “undocumented immigrants” is simply nothing more than a political statement, intended to “cleanse” that category of residents from any “stigma” of having BROKEN any law. But, PC touchy-feeley descriptions or not – the fact remains, that they have broken the law. Therefore, to me, that term is a term deserving of mockery – which is what I did in my original post on this topic. [If my child drives but has no license, why – she is not an “illegal” driver, but merely an “undocumented” one!]

    But I am neither a racist nor xenophobic, based on my desires for the reformation of immigration policies as set forth via 1 through 5 in an earlier post. Am I am not locked in on tripling the number. I just threw that out. Quadruple it for all I care. What matters is the rule of law, and not thumbing our nose at it.