The Republican, whose closest allies remain engulfed in the Russian collusion scandal, began his long, often rambling speech in West Virginia with a promise to not talk about politics.
However, over the course of the 40-minute address, he repeatedly returned to many of his favourite subjects, including “fake news” and “draining the swamp” (now “sewer”), deviating from a pre-written speech about the merits of scouthood.
Trump also attacked former President Barack Obama — booed by elements of the crowd, who also chanted “USA! USA! USA!” — and appeared to threaten members of his own cabinet, should they fail to repeal Obamacare.
Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer – it's actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 24, 2017
Hundreds of parents and former members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) took to its Facebook page to protest the speech, which appears to contravene the non-political aims of the group.
One user wrote: “As a scouting parent, I am furious that Donald Trump was allowed to negatively reference a former US President while speaking at the Boy Scout Jamboree today.
“I have seen Trump’s speech myself on the news… (you know, the free press that is the cornerstone of our democracy and the institution that Trump despises). Who exactly allowed attacks on a former president and the free press to be made in Trump’s speech today?
“The Boy Scouts owe America an apology. Otherwise, this is not the type of organisation I would want influencing my son. I only allow my son to join organisations that demonstrate integrity in words and deeds.”
This is the Boy Scouts' official policy on participation in political events. The short version: What happened tonight is against the rules. pic.twitter.com/Q3GvSypELb
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) July 25, 2017
Another added: “I am the daughter of a Scout Master and the sister of an Eagle Scout. I’m horrified by Trump’s behaviour at the Boy Scout Jamboree.”
“I’m disgusted by his lack of respect for those scouts, using language that many would find offensive. I’m distressed at the stunningly inappropriateness of some of the comments — alluding to crass sexual exploits and greed.”
She added that she was “chilled to the bone at a man lecturing young men on the value of ‘loyalty’ while threatening his own cabinet members, and a member of congress.”
Her call for the BSA to distance itself from Trump’s ” vicious, disgusting, un-scouts-like message” was echoed by many other Facebook users.
Before I see one more tweet saying Obama never met with the Boy Scouts. pic.twitter.com/YqUOWYd9Bg
— Baby Bye (@1BabyBye) July 24, 2017
One wrote: “The BSA should be ashamed of themselves. Trump’s speech had nothing to do with scouting values. We were involved for years, my son made Eagle, but I will never again support the boy scouts for turning Jamboree into a Trump rally.”
They compared the event to the “rallies of teens in Germany in the 30s”.
Another said: “I will be pulling my son out of Scouting after the silence following the political indoctrination at the jamboree. Shame on you for allowing this to go unchallenged.
“Political speeches at this event are highly inappropriate. Talking about rich friends, attacking political opponents. Are the Scouts now a political party?”
At the speech, Trump repeatedly referenced the size of the crowd — thought to be about 40,000 — and attacked the press
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 25, 2017
“Boy, you have a lot of people. The press will say it’s about 200 people. It looks like about 45,000 people,” he said.
At the start of his speech, he promised to “put aside all of the policy fights in Washington DC that you have been hearing about with the fake news and all of that… Who the hell wants to talk about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”
He then described Washington as a “cesspool”, mocked Hilary Clinton, talked about the battle to repeal the Affordable Care Act and bizarrely promised that, under his presidency, Boy Scouts would “now be able to say Merry Christmas”.
He also took aim at the former president by saying: “By the way, just a question, did President Obama ever come to a jamboree? And we’ll be back. We’ll be back. The answer is no, but we’ll be back.”