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Scout Leader Banned from National Parks


    Although I moved through the scouting ranks when I was a youngster growing up back East, and had a great time doing it, since moving West I've found myself perplexed time and again by scouting foibles.
    In the not too distant past there have been unfortunate situations with scouts that led to drownings in the Zion Narrows section of Zion National Park, and deaths from heat exhaustion in the Grand Canyon.
    Fortunately, the latest scouting story that's made the news doesn't involve deaths. But it does focus the spotlight on questionable decisions made by scout leaders.
    In the case at hand a 58-year-old Texan who just happens to serve as associate director of the Cub Scout division of the Boy Scouts of America has been banned from all national parks in Arizona for a year.
    What was William Steele's transgression? Without a guide he entered a canyon in Canyon de Chelly National Monument considered sacred by both the Hopi and Navajo.
    While the AP story detailing Steele's case said no damage was done to Yuca Cave, it quoted an official as saying that "the site is considered sacred, so just entering it is considered sacrilege."
    I wonder whether Mr. Steele got to hang onto his scouting job?


I recall being thoroughly briefed by Canyon de Chelly officials on the does and don'ts of the park before joining a guided walk some years ago. The warnings were clear. There is no excuse for the defendant's behavior.

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