This week, a few Boy Scouts leaders at Goblin Valley State Park in central Utah made a very, very stupid mistake. Not only did the three Scout leaders manage to topple a few unique rock formations, known as hoodoos or goblins, they filmed themselves doing so, looking all cheery in the process. Since then, they claimed the formations, which have been in place for millions of years, were loose and likely to topple and hurt someone. Now, they are likely to face felony charges for the vandalism. The Boy Scouts ought to be ashamed of having these men as Scout Leaders for violating not only the rules of the park but also Scout Law, and should expel them as soon as possible.
Preserving nature is one of the core tenets of Scouting. It has been placed in every single variation of Scout Law over time. The Boy Scouts of America have taken things a step further on the principle of Leave No Trace, which essentially means that a person leaves an area as they had found it, with no signs of their presence. Boy Scouts are expected to leave no trace of their presence with a zeal only matched by participants of the annual Burning Man Festival in Nevada. The Leave No Trace principle is so important to the BSA, that they have implemented it in all levels of Scouting that they oversee.
The Scout Leaders who toppled the goblins, dating to at least 20 million years in age, in Goblin Valley violated that basic principle. Worse, though, is the Scout Leaders' claim that they performed these acts to protect other park visitors. Even if they were visiting the Goblin Valley State Park for the first time — which seems unlikely, given they are from Utah and are Scout Leaders — they had absolutely no authority to do anything with those rocks. They were likely not geologists, nor people with park service experience. A Scout Leader, when faced with a safety concern, are expected to find an authority, in this case a park ranger, to figure out what to do, and should act in the event of danger or an emergency, which there was none clearly in this situation. Such ignorance of authority violates Scout Law, and they should have never been allowed to lead a troop in the first place.
The Boy Scouts have rightfully condemned the actions of the Scout Leaders. However, even if the Scout Leaders manage to avoid felony charges for their actions, the BSA should do the right thing and expel them, in order to set an example of what happens when you refuse to preserve nature.