Wasatch Savage: Goblin Valley vandals teach kids disrespect by example

I grew up a Boy Scout. At an early age, I was taught to be respectful and aware of how I’m affecting the world around me. I was taught the Boy Scouts of America’s “Leave No Trace” policy, which meant to leave nature the way I found it so it will be here for future generations to admire. However, as I got older, I noticed a trend with the Boy Scout leaders. Some leaders were getting less conscious of how they treated nature.

On Oct. 11, the world witnessed the most dangerous kind of stupidity. It witnessed stupidity in the form of leadership. Two Utah Boy Scout leaders, Glenn Taylor and Dave Hall, destroyed a 170-million-year-old rock formation at Goblin Valley State Park in Utah. These men were in roles that should be setting examples for the eight teenage Boy Scouts who accompanied them on this trip.

Quickly after the men posted the video online, the Internet replied with a collective distaste for these vandals. I must admit, I was enraged when I first saw the video. But after my initial reaction, I found myself in a concerned state. I am worried for the eight Boy Scouts these men had an influence on. That is eight young minds that witnessed ignorance in the face of Mother Nature. That is eight young minds that were shown complete disregard for preservation of our natural world. I’m worried these “leaders” instilled these youngsters with the dangerous idea to destroy something before it destroys you.

In their defense, the two men state in the video that the rock was going to fall over and could potentially crush someone. I find that interesting for a couple reasons. First, what on earth makes them experts on the stability of a 170-million-year-old rock formation? Second, by entering the state park, they acknowledge the fact that the terrain may be dangerous. If something in a state park looks dangerous, the best thing to do would be to report it to the park rangers and let them handle it properly.

It’s all in the Boy Scouts of America handbook, but I’m guessing these guys have never actually read the handbook. In fact, from the content of the video, some might be shocked if these men have ever read a book. At one point in the video, Hall exclaims, “We have now modified Goblin Valley!” in celebration of the toppled boulder.

The Boy Scouts’ Utah National Parks Council made a statement saying, “We encourage all leaders and scouts to review the ‘Leave No Trace’ principles, as we are all a part of maintaining the integrity, character and the natural beauty of the outdoors for all living things.”

The two leaders have since been removed from their leadership positions within the Boy Scouts of America organization.

I really admire the way the Boy Scouts of America has handled this as an organization, but I fear this ignorant attitude accompanying Boy Scout leaders is not an isolated event. In my experience with being a Boy Scout, I certainly witnessed my fair share of stupidity among my leaders. In Utah, the LDS church goes hand in hand with the Boy Scouts, and this oftentimes means that the leader of the young men’s group in the church is also the Boy Scout leader for the given area. This made me wonder if the Boy Scout leaders in Utah were genuinely interested in teaching me about character development and self-reliance in the outdoors, or if they were just fulfilling another church-assigned duty.

The Emery County prosecutor is looking into possible charges against Taylor and Hall. I hope they really get the book thrown at them. An example must be set; negligence in a position that influences youth is not OK.