For as many cheers as President Donald Trump received during his National Scout Jamboree speech in West Virginia Monday night, there seemed to be an equal amount of parents and former Boy Scouts of America angered by his references to the Republican health care bill, Hilary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and fake news.
Presidents who have given Jamboree speeches in the past have celebrated the Scouting experience and shared words of wisdom—not veer off into hot political topics. Speakers have included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, Ronald Reagan’s wife Nancy Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, who Trump criticized for not attending a Jamboree during his presidency. (Obama did, however, record a video for Scouts in 2010.)
For example, FDR praised the Boy Scouts values during its first Jamboree in 1937. “The individual who by inaction or by opposition slows up honest, practical, far-seeing community effort is the fellow who is holding back civilization and holding back the objectives of the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
Eisenhower's speech in 1953 emphasized the importance of unity in the spirit of helpfulness: “You will gain a renewed awareness of the need for cooperating-working together—in our country and in the world," he said. "Bonds of common purpose and common ideals can unite people, even when they come from the most distant and diverse places."
George H.W. Bush focused on service to others for his 1989 speech. “By actively engaging in the lives of others, you are demonstrating a central theme, a central idea of this administration: that from now on in America, any definition of a successful life must include serving others.”
Click through the photo gallery to see how each president's Jamboree speech differs from Trump.