I can still recite the Boy Scout Oath.

Those words, along with various patriotic slogans and wilderness-survival tips, were instilled in me during my early teens, when I was part of a scout troop at my local church.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the troop was an attempt by community leaders to nurture “at-risk youth,” that euphemistic term for minority and/or low-income kids.

Indeed, most of my fellow scouts were Latinos with brothers in gangs, or parents on welfare. They were sinewy pre-adolescents with insouciant attitudes and a willingness to start a brawl.

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