Ah, the Boy Scouts. A sacred institution where boys have gone for decades to learn how to start fires, tie nautical knots and fold the American flag. For years parents have been sending their boys off to Scouts in the hope that they’ll come back with lifelong values, leadership qualities and some excellent swag from America’s favorite breastaurant, Hooters.
Well, maybe that’s not what parents send their sons to Boy Scouts for, but that’s just too bad for a group of Denver parents, because sometimes life throws you a surprise. Like when your 7-year-old Cub Scout comes home with a Hooters hat and tales of the nice Hooters ladies who volunteered at camp that day. Surprise!
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Now, there’s a reason the Hooters gals were with the kids at camp, and that reason is that someone thought it would be a very good idea to have the restaurant sponsor the camp. There truly is no match better made than “Boy Scout,” often used colloquially to describe boys so upright that butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, and “Hooters,” a slang term for boobies.
The restaurant provided funding for the camp, plus three employers to volunteer at the camp itself, and apparently some Hooters-branded gear, because that’s kind of the point of sponsoring something. That made some parents pretty mad, and they got madder when a few pictures of their boys posing with the volunteers went up on the franchise’s Facebook page, which we get. Those photos have since been removed.
According to a local news outlet, a district executive was initially unapologetic about the sponsor choice, but since then, a spokesperson for the Denver chapter of the Boy Scouts of America has issued an apology for what they termed “a mistake.”
We totally get the parental reaction here, which is, “Ew, Hooters,” because Hooters is gross and tacky and makes all of its money off of what they themselves once termed “female sex appeal” in the handbook they gave to employees. When you think of Hooters, scouting is probably very low on the list of things you associate with the restaurant, as opposed to “my one creepy uncle” and “gathering place for people too young to get into a strip club.” Even their wings suck.
Still, even if you think of Hooters in a slightly more charitable light, there’s just no getting around the fact that it’s an inappropriate sponsor choice for a kids’ day camp. Sorry, but that’s the image they wanted: adult fun.
Can you imagine being one of the servers from this particular Hooters who suddenly finds herself the object of panicked moralizing and outright fury from parents? In the controversial pictures, the women are decked out head to toe in Hooters clothing, but it’s tamer than tapioca pudding — comfy shirt, track jacket, visor. No hot pants and definitely no skintight tees.
These women are volunteers, which means they took time from the high-earning world of waiting tables to be a part of their community, and they did it for free. If they were from, say, La Madeleine, they would have at least gotten a thank-you for their trouble. Instead they are at the center of a parental rage storm, and that stinks for them, and it kind of stinks for the Boy Scouts too.
Not just because they won’t be able to return to the Hooters well next year when it’s time to raise funds, but because they missed an opportunity to learn a very Scout-like lesson. We’re fond of telling kids to not judge a book by its cover. We don’t want them to miss out on something good because it comes in a package that’s otherwise distasteful.
Don’t we especially want them to know that about people? That whether someone’s wearing day-glo booty shorts or a three-piece suit, they’re deserving of our respect? These women weren’t there to entice the boys to come buy pitchers of crappy beer or to ogle chests. They were there to help out, but when people draw back in disgust, what do we think the boys involved will learn from that?
It’s fine to disapprove of the bad judgment of Scout leadership in this case, but that can be done without treating the people who were nice enough to lend some kids a helping hand like untouchable pariahs.
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