Len Lanzi now makes his home in sunny Topanga, California, working as executive director of the Los Angeles Venture Association. He remembers his days as a Yawgoog camper and staffer back in his native Rhode Island as a time of fun, learning responsibility, team work and dedication. Scouting also taught Lanzi about being true to one’s self, having integrity and doing what’s right, values he needed to rely upon during later challenges.
Starting in second grade as a Cub Scout, he progressed through the Boy Scouts and went to Yawgoog over the summers, earning Eagle Scout and eventually becoming a first-year staffer — working in the reservations office.
“It was my first real job, my first real paycheck,” said Lanzi, now 55. “I was learning about having responsibility, how to work in teams … I was learning how to be a good presenter and have patience with other people.”
Lanzi led specialty camps, met campers from other parts of the country and interacted with figures in Yawgoog history such as Al Mink, George Egan, Joe Herbold, Bruce Ingham, and Jim Essex, “a key group of staff people.”
After leaving Yawgoog and graduating college — serving as council contingent at the National Jamboree in 1980 — he eventually became a Scout district director in Santa Barbara, Calif., in 1987.
But in 2000, Lanzi was asked to resign from the Scouts, due to the Boy Scouts’ policy against having people who were gay in leadership roles. The policy was partially reversed almost two decades later, putting the onus on individual troops, but not before Lanzi was put on administrative leave.
“It meant I could no longer do what I loved,” he said. “The interesting, thing is that the friends you make [in Scouting] you carry with you. A Scout who was on camp staff and in the Order of the Arrow with me, was cast with the responsibility of implementing this policy. He reached out and sought my opinion; that spoke volumes on loyalty.”
Where Lanzi did not offer his resignation, he also would not disparage the Boy Scouts of America during Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisor hearings. [Scouting taught me the] values to get through it. It prepared me, it was a great example of teaching me what personal integrity is and being loyal, the 12 points of the Scout Law,” said Lanzi. “On the other side of that, every success can be pointed back to those things … how to be a good person and know what success looks like when you achieve it.”
Facebook, he said, has been a great tool in helping him stay connected to friends he’s made through the Boy Scouts of America through the years, and he keeps in touch with many of them.
He’s been happy to see Scouting become more socially progressive over the years, most recently welcoming girls, so that they might have the great experience Scouting brought to their lives, as well.