WASHINGTON — Modesto attorney Roger Schrimp deserves a merit badge for Scouting dedication.
In the six decades since he first joined the Boy Scouts in 1948, Schrimp has gained most every rank and award imaginable. This week, the 66-year-old former Eagle Scout reached a new plateau as he presented the organization's annual report to congressional leaders.
"It's just been an amazing experience," Schrimp said Wednesday morning. "We've been everywhere."
The longtime leader in the Greater Yosemite Council of Boy Scouts was speaking the day after meeting with President Bush in the White House Oval Office.
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On Monday, Schrimp and the eight Scouts he's escorting met with the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Discreetly, several other intelligence officers joined them.
"We're not really supposed to talk about that," Schrimp confided.
Culminating the Scouting trip of a lifetime, Schrimp shortly after noon on Wednesday delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, the Boy Scouts' annual report.
Schrimp, his wife, Delsie, and eight carefully selected Scouts from across the country are this year's "delegates" for the purposes of conveying the Scouts' annual report. It's essentially a symbolic gesture, but it's a singular honor. These delegates were selected from about 1.2 million adults and 2.8 million youths involved in traditional Scouting activities nationwide, according to the annual report.
"I'm really active and have been for a number of years," Schrimp said, when asked why he was chosen to deliver the report. "My name came up, and I said, 'Sure.' "
Schrimp and his wife led a delegation that included Scouts of different stripes. Jonah Hale, for one, is a Webelos Scout from Minnesota who saved his 3-year-old brother from drowning in a backyard pool. James Kennedy is an Eagle Scout from Missis- sippi credited with saving his family from Hurricane Katrina floodwaters.
Greg Rybka is a Second Class Scout. It is a modest rank, and Greg is remarkable for having reached it. Because of birth defects, the 12-year-old Korean native has one arm and had both legs amputated below the knee.
"They're neat young people; they really are," Delsie Schrimp said, while standing in the Capitol's majestic Rotunda.
Roger Schrimp is an Oakdale resident who has served on the regional Scouting council's executive board going back to 1967. A graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and its law school, Schrimp has volunteered legal advice, helped raise money, and steered a canoe or two.
Because Congress has granted the Boy Scouts an honorary charter, Scouting delegates formally address the report to the speaker of the House of Representatives.
Pelosi received the report graciously, pointing out to Schrimp the statue of a Boy Scout that she has on display in her office near the Rotunda. There was no sign Wednesday of congressional criticisms that once flared up.
In 2000, after the Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts' policy against hiring homosexual troop leaders, Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Petaluma, sought to revoke the Scouts' congressional charter. The measure failed by a 362-12 margin, but Pelosi was among 50 Democrats to suggest split sympathies by voting "present." Pelosi also signed a congressional letter sent by Woolsey urging then-President Clinton to resign as honorary head of the Scouts in protest of the organization's hiring policy.
Since then, the question of the Scouts' congressional charter has subsided on Capitol Hill. This week, Schrimp and his fellow delegates found simply hospitality.
"No politics," Schrimp said. "The subject just hasn't come up."
Bee Washington Bureau reporter Michael Doyle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-383-0006.