The head of the Boy Scouts of America apologized for President Trump's political speech at its national gathering.
"I want to extend my sincere apologies to those in our Scouting family who were offended by the political rhetoric that was inserted into the jamboree," chief executive Michael Surbaugh wrote in an open letter posted on the Boy Scouts website Thursday. "...We sincerely regret that politics were inserted into the Scouting program."
Surbaugh said the jamboree had been filled with character-building experiences, such as trading patches, climbing rock walls and sharing stories. Those moments were overshadowed by the president's speech, which was filled with attacks on the press, polls and his predecessor, Barack Obama.
Surbaugh explained that the sitting president has been invited to attend the national jamboree since 1937.
"It is in no way an endorsement of any person, party or policies," he said. "For years, people have called upon us to take a position on political issues, and we have steadfastly remained non-partisan and refused to comment on political matters."
He continued: "While we live in a challenging time in a country divided along political lines, the focus of Scouting remains the same today as every day."
Surbaugh's letter comes three days after Trump's speech. After the speech, the organization released a statement that said it was "wholly non-partisan."
Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment on the letter, saying she hasn't seen the statement.
Noting that she had attended the jamboree, she said, "I think they were pretty excited he was there... I heard nothing but a lot of cheering."
© 2018 USATODAY.COM