This will go over well...
October 11, 2017 10:59 AM   Subscribe

Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
posted by ShawnString (106 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ha, I literally just this minute got back from running to our council office to get paperwork for Webelos den leader training. My son's been in Cubs for three years now.

I'd unofficially gotten advance word on this from people in the BSA and have been talking with my daughter on whether she'd rather do this or Girl Scouts. She, and her mother and I, are very conflicted about it, but regardless I'm glad they made this call and I'm glad that girls can now earn Eagle.
posted by middleclasstool at 11:03 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]




Yeah, but when will they stop discriminating against atheists, LGBTQ, or anyone else other than straight white Protestants?

I suspect the BSA board thinks this is a way to get around their more-repugnant rules.
posted by easily confused at 11:09 AM on October 11 [52 favorites]


Do the boy scouts really think this covers for all the years of them being shitbags?
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:10 AM on October 11 [8 favorites]


The tagline should be, "Like the Girl Scouts, But Really Problematic!"
posted by xingcat at 11:10 AM on October 11 [102 favorites]


Do they split into groups when it's time for the presidents sex yacht stories or hear them all together?
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on October 11 [20 favorites]


“I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts,” Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, the president of the Girl Scouts, wrote to her counterpart, Randall Stephenson of the Boy Scouts.

Sick burn.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:13 AM on October 11 [66 favorites]


I was in scouting my entire youth, as part of my (religious) grade-school's sponsored troop. I loved it thoroughly.

However, the BSA needs to better settle the child abuse problems and pro-bigotry stance before trying to remediate membership by poaching from nominally allied organizations' target markets.

Also, anything that harms the Girl Scouts organization, which in my view is far more important to girls (and therefore American society at large) than the BSA is to boys (or anyone else), is to be abhorred. This is a shit move by the BSA on several levels.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 11:17 AM on October 11 [28 favorites]


Ah, I bet it's seen as a lesser-evil option for the families whose churches have denounced Girl Scouts for supporting feminism and birth control.
posted by Lunaloon at 11:18 AM on October 11 [36 favorites]


Man, fuck the BSA. Fact: The Gold Award is just as hard to get as the goddamn Eagle Scout rank. The only reason it's less respected is because it's for women. I guess if one shred of good comes out of this it'll be that Eagle Scout will be considered less prestigious by a certain subset of the population because women can earn it too.

I was a Sea Scout in high school and BSA was happy to take our girl-cootie-ridden registration fees. But we regularly saw men in our "brother troop" make Eagle Scout for the most halfassed, stupid projects, and of course it was beyond the pale to think that our Gold Award projects could be considered as Eagle Scout projects. I have very little respect for that rank and even less respect for the Boy Scouts as an organization. My knee-jerk reaction to this news was "my kids, regardless of gender, will join the Boy Scouts over my dead body."

And yeah, if you aren't aware, this is like 98% a way to allow conservative religious people to get their daughters into a Scouting organization that's better aligned with their ultra-right-wing values. This is not a progressive move.
posted by potrzebie at 11:20 AM on October 11 [89 favorites]


Lunaloon, that's pretty much what I came here to say. This feels like pandering to the religious parents who don't want their girls in GSUSA.
posted by cooker girl at 11:21 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Sick burn.

Sick burn but totally the truth. Our local Council is absolutely pathetic when it comes to recruiting. Maybe all the fundraising to stay afloat is distracting them.
posted by JoeZydeco at 11:23 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]


everyone here keeps calling the scouts a conservative/ultra-right-wing/religious organization.

Folks, I've got friends who tick those boxes and more, and they think the scouts are full of liberal, gay-loving sellouts, and put their kids in things like awana, navigators, trail life, etc.

I see this move more as a way to try and shore up that folks just don't do scouting anywhere near as much as they used to, so to keep the membership up, cast a wider net.
posted by k5.user at 11:30 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Yeah, but when will they stop discriminating against atheists, LGBTQ, or anyone else other than straight white Protestants?

I was in the scouts as a kid, and love love loved it. Then, one day, I told my parents I wasn't going to sunday school (catechism, for your raised-catholics out there) any more because athiest, and they I guess told the scout leader. He told me that I had to believe in god or quit the scouts. "What about the jewish kid, or the native american kids" ? "we make exceptions, because they believe in something".

So, I quit the scouts.

A few years later, I have a son, and, scouting would be fun with my son, I think. But then the 90s BSA goes full homophobe and the gay thing ensues. So that was out. Fortuitous, because my son came out as gay a few years later.

Jesus people ruin fucking everything.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:32 AM on October 11 [37 favorites]


I prefer to think of it as some girls are choosing to grace the Boy Scouts with their awesomeness.

I was a Girls Scout, from Brownies to Cadet, when I left because the leader was no fun. We went camping and had adventures and it was great. The Girl Scouts are progressive and inclusive. My son's Dad couldn't be arsed to be involved in Boy Scouts with our son, and just as well, given that they are regressive and insular. If it gives Fundamentalist Religionists a haven, well, yuck.
posted by theora55 at 11:34 AM on October 11 [3 favorites]


"my kids, regardless of gender, will join the Boy Scouts over my dead body."

Yeah. Boy Scouts is one of a very few things that if my kids expressed an interest I would flat out tell them they aren't allowed to do it. It's like, smoking, playing with firearms, and joining the Boy Scouts.
posted by nickmark at 11:37 AM on October 11 [15 favorites]


And yeah, if you aren't aware, this is like 98% a way to allow conservative religious people to get their daughters into a Scouting organization that's better aligned with their ultra-right-wing values. This is not a progressive move.

Yep. And we (GSUSA) already have competition from American Heritage Girls in that respect.
posted by candyland at 11:40 AM on October 11 [7 favorites]


fluffy battle kitten: "Do the boy scouts really think this covers for all the years of them being shitbags?"

Probably not but without change the status quo would persist.
posted by Mitheral at 11:45 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]


Maybe they can change the name without changing the name. The Bigoted Outdoor Youth Scouts of America, maybe?
posted by gurple at 11:47 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how to feel about this... I have been a Cub Scout leader, and a Girl Scout leader, so I have seen both programs up close.

Cub Scouts takes the boys camping and teaches them to tie knots and use knives safely, and make pinewood derby cars... Our troop sold popcorn to raise money. We would get the boys in their uniforms, take them to Starbuck's (or wherever we were supposed to sell), point them at a more-or-less friendly looking person, and tell them to recite their shpiel.

Girl Scouts focuses on how to be strong, self-sufficient women. Selling cookies is as much about raising money for their troops as it is about teaching the girls to run a business. They learn to handle money, how to get the word out about their products, how to confidently (and safely!) approach potential customers about their products. Girl Scouts is as much about being confident and finding strength in your GSA sisters.

I don't see how girls will find the same benefits in cubbies. I could totally see some girls doing really well at activities that demand more attention. They would excell long after the boys' attention spans had expired. That being said, I don't know that BSA would do much to tailor the programs to the needs and interests of girls. Letting them in, and giving them a pink neckerchief or something wouldn't be the same as teaching them how to be strong, confident women.

GSA expects the girls to be more mature and work together much earlier than does the BSA. The boys start doing leadership stuff in Boy Scouts (6th grade-12th grade). In Girl Scouts, that starts in 3rd/4th grade.

Not only do I not see how BSA will appeal to girls, but I also think this will be damaging to GSA. It will siphon off girls (and leaders!) to BSA.

Sad all around.
posted by dfm500 at 12:04 PM on October 11 [18 favorites]


Scouts Canada started integrating in 1972, and has been fully integrated for decades. Seems to work out fine here. And we still have Girl Guides in Canada.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:15 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


I'm hearing alot of angst in here, and I feel like many are missing the point of Scouting. I don't want to deny what you all are saying, I know that mistakes have been made. Notice also that I'm a little bit hurt too, because I believe there is tremendously more good than bad in Scouting, and I believe Scouting is a model for building a Good Man, and now, a Good Human.

Here's the mission of Scouting:

"The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

Remember that an organization, ANY organization, is made up of people, and people make mistakes. A Scoutmaster discriminated against Jewish people, or atheists. A leader was no fun, and the program suffered. A whole group of leadership at the National level may have been homophobic. But people learn, and organizations change. The BSA can no longer be called homophobic (and believe me, that was a big issue for me personally, and I would not be involved today if that had not changed).

Read that mission statement again. With understanding in your heart, will you malign your local Boy Scout Troop openly, knowing that the adult volunteers there are Doing Their Best to " prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes"? Will you really say, "my kids, regardless of gender, will join the Boy Scouts over my dead body." Will your past experiences cloud your current judgement?

I am a Cubmaster, and I volunteer gobs of time to prepare Cubs for what is ahead of them. I love it. I love the singing, the cheering, I love seeing the kids light up with a new game, seeing the kids make up new games! I am building youth up to Do Their Best, and to learn that hard work can be fun at the same time. In our Pack, we value diversity, we search for it, and it's not just pleasant to say that we welcome everyone, we truly have more fun with more diverse people! And today I'm proud to be a Boy Scout because now it really is true, we really do welcome everyone.

I really hope those of you that have children will look into the Scouting options in your area. I hope your local Scout leaders are as passionate as I am about delivering our mission to your kids. I hope you are inspired by the work we do, and will consider volunteering your time to help our children become role models for their peers, for their families, for THEIR children, when that time comes. But most of all I hope that you will look with fresh eyes on an organization with pure intentions:

"to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

Look beyond the mistakes of the humans involved and recognize the massive good we are doing in your community. No one can correct the mistakes made in the past, but I will not stop working on a mission I truly believe in, and I hope you will not only understand me, but support me, believe in me, and consider your opinions carefully.
posted by joecacti at 12:20 PM on October 11 [18 favorites]


Well, one thing does bother me about their "ethical and moral choices" language. This:

"The Boy Scouts of America maintains that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing an obligation to God."

I mean, yipes.
posted by agregoli at 12:27 PM on October 11 [60 favorites]


...but I also think this will be damaging to GSA. It will siphon off girls (and leaders!) to BSA.

It does make you wonder if this move doesn't have its roots in higher conservative political circles, with the intent of hurting a more progressive organization.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:32 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Girls Scouts is a wonderful organization. Much better than the BSA. But there's a lot of local variation in GS troops and the ones near us did a lot of crafts and sleeping in cabins--and that just wasn't the kind of scouting my daughter wanted to do. So she joined the Venture Scouts, which is a co-ed arm of the BSA. It's been such a great experience for her. She spent the past three weekends working as an instructor for a leadership training course--hiking, sleeping in a tent, cooking over a fire she started herself and passing on the things she's learned to a group of younger (boy) scouts.

It's been a great fit for her and she really feels like she's found her niche in her co-ed "crew." The co-ed aspect has been especially helpful, I think. She's never underestimated because she's "just a girl" or derided for a being a "tomboy." They're all just scouts working together to do scout stuff.

When I texted her to let her know that there is a possibility (if the timing works out) that she could be among the first female Eagle Scouts, she was so thrilled and immediately started asking questions and trying to figure out what she needed to do to make it happen. I'm really happy for her and for all the other young girls who may benefit from this decision.
posted by jrossi4r at 12:34 PM on October 11 [25 favorites]


I was a Cub, then a Scout, in the mid to late 60s. (Canada). I didn't stay with it as a teen, too uncool, but I did get a lot from it. I think it was the first taste of self-sufficiency - being trusted with axes and knives, erecting a campsite, leading a group of younger scouts to get from point A to point B in the woods with just a compass, learning a bit of respect for nature. I still remember learning my knots there, as well as the phonetic alphabet (alpha, bravo, charlie, delta, echo... etc)

I appreciate that there may be aspects that collide with modern attitudes, like the God issue above. I don't recall being beaten about the head about that, other than an expectation that we'd hopefully bow our head when somebody said grace. At 11, I wasn't that interested in whether there was a God or not. They were unsuccessful in making me a believer.

Anyway, it's sad that there's conflict between the BSA and GSA in the US, and that some political agendas have apparently crept into the programs. I didn't realize that the Canadian Scouts have been integrated for so long. Interesting.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:39 PM on October 11


or anyone else other than straight white Protestants

I thought one of the big issues facing the BSA is their membership, leadership, and funding are all heavily tied to the LDS - they stop being arch conservative, they lose a huge amount of the membership.
posted by thecjm at 12:40 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I’d like to remind everyone that Campfire and 4-H still exist.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:46 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


thecjm, the LDS already have pulled out, which I suspect is one of the reasons for the move towards integrating.
posted by Aleyn at 12:53 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


But most of all I hope that you will look with fresh eyes on an organization with pure intentions: "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

The Scout Oath still requires swearing to 'do one's duty to God;' the organization remains, to judge by its mission statement and self-proclaimed values, organizationally intolerant of my personal beliefs, which were, and remain, at odds with that statement. The Scouts did not welcome me; the ethical & moral values they espouse did not include me. I could not in good faith join the organization; it would have been dishonest. The organization has not changed in that respect, even if it may have changed in others.

I will happily laud the positive changes they have made, which has let some of my friends who were deeply involved with Scouting return to it, and I will happily support and lift up the good work local chapters might be doing. But that they have made positive changes does not mean that, as a national organization, they are a wholly new and changed one: they are not.

Will you really say, "my kids, regardless of gender, will join the Boy Scouts over my dead body." Will your past experiences cloud your current judgement?

An organization that would not currently welcome me as a member (were I my a child's age) is not one that I would let my child join, no. That has nothing to do with past experience and everything to do with the organizations' current religious values and the way those values exclude people.

That won't stop my from celebrating the accomplishment's of friends' children who are involved. But that's because of what the kids have done, not because of the Scouts as an organization.
posted by cjelli at 12:53 PM on October 11 [22 favorites]


But most of all I hope that you will look with fresh eyes on an organization with pure intentions: "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law."

An organization with a history of child sex abuse and discrimination against LGBTQ staff and kids is in no position to provide guidance on "ethical" or "moral" choices.
posted by xedrik at 12:57 PM on October 11 [31 favorites]


The BSA has tied its wagon to the American Evangelical Establishment so tightly that it will probably never be able to reform itself back into a primarily secular organization. As of 2010, a full 68% of Scout units were chartered by Faith-based organizations, which means that almost 70% of scout troops are literally owned by churches. This is in direct contrast to the Girl Scouts, where there may exist a chartering relationship, but no chartered organization owns the troop.
posted by Chrischris at 12:57 PM on October 11 [14 favorites]


Hi, folks!

Just a friendly FPP-about-scouting reminder that "GSA" isn't a thing, it's the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, or GSUSA.

Thanks!
posted by phunniemee at 1:13 PM on October 11 [20 favorites]


smoking, playing with firearms, and joining the Boy Scouts.

Aside: I associate all three things with Scouting. Also playing with fire and a number of other unwholesome activities. Why, it was with the Boy Scouts I inadvertently explored the red light district of DC and while I didn't attend, several fellows did check out the less than savory Kings Cross while we on tour in Sydney. Good times. Don't let the wholesome veneer fool ya!

The church+scouts thing is a tangled, tangled web. There's an obvious values match and the Scouts certainly have made no bones chasing their erstwhile pals in the LDS. A lot of other groups like PTAs/schools and others were scared off decades ago either by liability concerns or by the regressive values which only served to entrench things.

There's lots of good folks like JoeCacti fighting the good fight and its nice there is room in the org for them. Bad too that its been shelter to far too many shitheels to make it seem like redemption is possible for the larger masses. If you like scouts and want to keep liking scouts, never find out how the sausage is made.

Its too bad the org never got the same message I did, that a program of leadership, enrichment and ethics is perhaps more needed by those they exclude than those they tailor to.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 1:14 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


My scouting experience was WONDERFUL. I didn't make Eagle, but I did make Life Scout, and I'm pretty proud of that. I learned things, met great people and a hell of a good time. A lot of Teenage Boys Being Teenage Boys - camping, fire, junk food, sharp objects and more fire and junk food.
I just can't help but think that this move is bad for the Boy Scouts, it's bad for the Girl Scouts, and frankly, I think the BSA has much more important things to fix and focus on, as BigLankyBastard said above:

However, the BSA needs to better settle the child abuse problems and pro-bigotry stance before trying to remediate membership by poaching from nominally allied organizations' target markets.

I'm also just bummed that my son didn't show any interest in scouting. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 1:22 PM on October 11


Idunno, everybody. I like the idea of a BSA option now being available to all kids. And sometimes the way to encourage positive change is to, you know, encourage it.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:27 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


“The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing” said Randall Stephenson, BSA’s national board chairman. “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”
/facepalm.
Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.
So, separate but equal?

On the one hand, I applaud the effort to open up BSA to be more inclusive. On the other hand, this sounds like a really ham-handed, tone-deaf, and wrongheaded way to go about it. Here's a suggestion: open the BSA to include everyone, period. Let them climb the same scales and get the same badges in the same troops.
posted by erikred at 1:29 PM on October 11 [11 favorites]


For those looking for alternatives to BSA (or even GSA I guess) 4-H is wonderful, and as a government funded program, officially secular. My daughter did Girl Scouts and 4-H for a few years, eventually focusing on 4-H and earning her All-Star designation, which is VA 4-H equivalent of an Eagle or Gold, and if measured as a percentage of kids in the program earning it, is way, way harder to get.

My son's experience in BSA was not as good. He loved Cubs, but the church Boy Scout troop was rampant with bullying, that the leaders felt the boys should work out on their own. It was also an Eagle factory, with the kids going through the motions and checking off the boxes to get their Eagle because it looks good on college applications. I saw very little actual evidence of leadership or personal growth though.
posted by COD at 1:31 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Wondering out loud (virtually, online, overthinking along the way), could I start a joint All Scouts Troupe, merging BSA and GSUSA guides together? I'm a hesitantly proud Eagle Scout, and I really enjoyed my personal experience, and I'd love to offer some of that to my sons.

I recognize it wasn't great for everyone in our troupe (there were some grade A assholes who were allowed to be serious assholes on a few occasions, plus some other instances of other unpleasantness that definitely crossed beyond anything I would now consider allowable as "boys being boys"), and I was going to send my Eagle Scout medal in 2012, joining others who did just that in disgust of the homophobia. But I also recognize that the troupe is only good as its local leadership. I took to it as a non-sporting social event with generally like-minded youth, particularly younger boys who were interested in the outdoors.

Also, I think the gender division is not necessary, as seen with Scouts Canada and other scouting organizations. (And seriously, popcorn? BSA, that's the same type of crap half all public schools foist on kids to sell around the holidays, try harder.) But I don't know enough about GSUSA to know how such a merging of ideas, goals and badges might look like, let alone understand either the BSA or GSUSA to know if they'd ask me to cease and desist awarding badges alongside the other organization's badges.


Major Matt Mason Dixon: I'm also just bummed that my son didn't show any interest in scouting. THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME.

Why not do your own thing now? Pick up a BSA handbook, do hiking and stuff with him, "earn" your badges as you go, and have fun! Honestly, part of my interest in scouting now is to rebuild my own skills that faded quickly after earning a ton of badges (I think I got 10 in one marathon week at scout camp, including the fingerprinting badge in 15 minutes).
posted by filthy light thief at 1:32 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I'm an Eagle Scout and by the time I got it I was an atheist. I guess I had quite a different experience than a lot of your perceptions about scouts. All the god stuff seemed like just a few words in some of the pledges and that was about it, otherwise just a relic from some other time. For me scouting was about camping and backpacking and knots community service and whittling and magic the gathering. Not that I loved it; I mostly did not. But I did learn a bunch of good skills and the vast majority of scouting values are things that everyone can get on board with like being prepared, helping other people, learning new things.

My feelings on the BSA have always been really mixed. I've been very critical of the BSA for many years but I've also been heartened by the progress they've made and I guess I get a little defensive when they are so often damned if they do damned if they don't. Yes, they were too slow. Yes, it is unlikely all of their reasons for finally accepting LGBTQ kids and now girls are probably not wholly about doing the right thing and there are financial and visibility elements. But they did change on these issues and that sends a message, particularly to a lot of small town america where BSA is the only thing to do and has a lot of influence where there is, especially these days, often a great resistance to being inclusive or accepting.

I don't know if I would let my kids do BSA. I certainly would not encourage them to do it. But I'm also really grateful for a lot of my scouting experiences and a lot of the cool things I was able to do for my community as a boy scout. Not that you need the BSA to do or learn any of those things, but the structure and support makes it easier. I don't know - maybe I'm too biased by my own scouting experiences, but my feeling about this generally is that it's a good thing. I don't see many good reasons to keep telling girls they can't do certain things or join certain groups. If girls want to be in Girls Scouts they can, if they want to be in Boy Scouts, they can, if they want to be in both, they can. If they want nothing to do with either that's cool too.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:35 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


And seriously, popcorn? BSA, that's the same type of crap half all public schools foist on kids to sell around the holidays, try harder.

Also that popcorn is gross. Literally no one likes that popcorn.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:36 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


All the god stuff seemed like just a few words in some of the pledges and that was about it, otherwise just a relic from some other time.

Words mean things, to some people.
posted by phunniemee at 1:37 PM on October 11 [19 favorites]


And today I'm proud to be a Boy Scout because now it really is true, we really do welcome everyone.

Am I mistaken? I thought you couldn't be an open atheist and be welcomed as a Boy Scout.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:37 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


(Really, why not set up an organization where kids can earn ALL the merit badges? Would someone get mad at me? So what if we allow anyone to join? There's too much neat stuff to learn to keep it separate, IMO.)
posted by filthy light thief at 1:44 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Not perfect, but yet another step in the right direction. If you can, consider getting involved in Scouting and help it continue to change for the better. Look at where the BSA was just 5 years ago (no gay scouts, no gay leaders, no girls) compared to now. They have made tremendous changes (which have lost them many conservative members).

As a Cub Scout leader, I don't know how they expect us to maintain separate girls and boys dens. Even if I wanted to maintain separate but equal (which I don't) there's no way I could find enough den leaders to duplicate all the dens...I have barely enough as it is!
posted by Esteemed Offendi at 1:53 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


As a girl who desperately wanted to join the Boy Scouts and was heartbroken when they tried to foist off Girl Scout cookie-selling and singing on me instead of the tomboy adventures I dreamed off, I'm thrilled.
posted by corb at 1:53 PM on October 11 [11 favorites]


Girls have been allowed to join Scouts in Canada for years now (hence why its not "boy" scouts Canada).

As to why a girl would want to join Scouts, my sister joined my troop because we went camping more and generally did much more adventurous things than the local Girl Guides. Her running joke was that the Girl Guide's idea of camping was "staying at a 4 star hotel" (they usually stayed in fancy cabins metres from the parking lot rather than hiking up a mountain and sleeping in tents).

All in all, I think this is a good thing. Congrats on US Scouts for finally catching up.
posted by Snuffman at 2:01 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


I understand a lot of the animus towards the BSA but I also had a great time in Scouts. I was ready to turn in my Eagle award when the BSA refused to allow LGBT members and I’m glad they changed their policy. I don’t see that this latest move as necessarily bad. If a girl wants to get an Eagle, that’s absolutely ok with me.

My fellow Scouts never took seriously all the patriotism, uniforms and godliness stuff. We stayed in because we liked learning to make a fire, camp, backpack and enjoy nature while not screwing it up. I would hope that people would realize this is a big organization and not all Troops are controlled by the LDS. It would be sad to take away a kid’s access to learning the things that I did (yes, I know there are other organizations that could do this but not all of them are in every community).

When Oklahoma oilman Waite Phillips donated the land for Philmont Scout Camp here in New Mexico, he had a requirement that there would be religious services to be determined by the Expedition leaders. When I went, it meant bowing our heads before we ate dinner. I wish it wasn’t part of the program but it didn’t turn me into a raving evangelical. I also bow my head at the table if the hosts decide to say grace. It doesn’t suddenly make me born again.

Again I can acknowledge the anger towards the BSA. They certainly are responsible for a lot of shitty things. But I think I learned one of the most important lessons of my life, albeit probably not one that the official BSA would support. By rejecting the unquestioned patriotism and religion, I learned there was no such thing as idealogical purity. And that’s what I’m most proud of about being a Scout.
posted by jabo at 2:01 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


Boy Scouts dates back to the Teddy Roosevelt era. Maybe it's time to um, make up a newer, modern organization and forget about this anachronistic club?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:21 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I'm happy for the decision. As a Pack committee chair, it makes my life easier - given that we have a girl registered in our unit already, who apparently slipped by the Council registrars... now we can just relax and let he be one of the Scouts.

So why girls? Perhaps because some families do things together, and it's easier when both kids go to a meeting. Maybe because every time we have a Pack camp, siblings come along and participate in all the activities already anyway. Maybe because GSUSA is not for every girl, just like not every boy is into what BSA is doing. Maybe because some areas have GREAT Girl Scouting units and other areas don't, but DO have good leadership in the BSA units. Maybe because 1/3rd of our current unit leaders are female, and they want their own daughters to be able to participate NOW instead of when they are old enough to be Venturers (or 20 years from now as a leader if they happen to have a male child of their own).

I just mentally add BSA to the list of things MeFi doesn't do well. It comes up, even in what seems to be a positive light, and there's an immediate outpouring of scorn, no matter what. For pete's sake, we're living in a country led by a misogynist bully, and a major youth organization with a history of strong conservative views openly (and unanimously) states "all girls are welcome here" ... and this is a bad thing somehow? Or spun as an obviously jaded and manipulative move? There's zero chance that a sea change driven by internal forces might have made this move for GOOD reasons? This is the first time in my life that the org has made a positive move without first being shamed into it, and I am not going to shit on them for doing so.

People seem to think that there's some inviolable BSA "bible" of iron clad rules for everything, when really facts on the ground rule. The local leadership sets the tone. Official rules are enforced only to the extent that the leaders enforce them, or to the extent that they turn a blind eye. Our Council has a long history of openly ignoring the greater ass-hatted moves made by National. And, slowly, National is realigning to match the types of Scouting I see locally. I've said it here before and will say it again: Change comes from within, and change is driven by the local leadership. Especially with the waning influence of the LDS, changes are afoot. BSA can thank the conservative (and largely LDS-driven, apparently) faction for eliminating public school chartered orgs, as the misguided anti-gay stance is what drove so many units out of public schools and into churches to begin with. BSA can thank this same group for doubling down on the "duty to god" bits quoted above, because the re-alignment of all requirements was written by the BSA just before this internal shift happened - before the LDS left and gay Scouts were openly welcomed. And don't think these two things were not related. Internal pressure caused the latter, and the realization that the latter was inevitable caused the former.

I know not every unit has leaders that would agree, but we don't care what god you believe in (or don't), what gender identity you have (if any), what ethnicity you might be. If you're in the south Minneapolis area, we'll gladly welcome your kid into our unit. If your local unit doesn't feel the same, there are ways to change that.
posted by caution live frogs at 2:34 PM on October 11 [16 favorites]


All the god stuff seemed like just a few words in some of the pledges and that was about it, otherwise just a relic from some other time.

My mileage varies. I deeply resented having to recite the Oath and the Law at every meaning. I wasn't "reverent", I didn't believe I had a "duty to God". I wouldn't want my daughter to receite those words, either. I wouldn't want to tell her either that I thought they were good things to believe in, or that it was OK to pledge things you don't mean.

But also my troop was very religious. Those words really meant something to all the rest of the kids. The words were part of the great big wedge between them and me.
posted by gurple at 2:36 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


(Reverence doesn't mean being religious. Reverence means staying true to your own beliefs, and respecting the beliefs of others. That's how I teach the kids. It also eases things for my son quite a bit as he's being raised by an ex-catholic secular humanist and an atheist. That annual "duty to god" badge is a bit interesting to manage, but we manage it creatively.)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:42 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


So. The Birl Scouts? The Goy Scouts?
posted by Splunge at 2:43 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


The SLGBTQ Scouts?
posted by jeff-o-matic at 2:45 PM on October 11


I'm an Eagle scout, and returned as an adult leader - Den Leader, Cub Master, Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, and now District Commissioner. I've been left-leaning Democrat as long as I've been able to vote. I'm somewhat of a minority in my leanings, but still feel the Boy Scouts have something to offer. Yes, the BSA has had it's ups and downs, and probably has a long way to go to correct sins of the past.

BUT! Amazingly enough, they are changing. Decisions on leadership standards, sexual orientation, and religions have lead to improvements to satisfy progressive members, while working to maintain important conservative relationships - with the LDS, Catholics, etc.

What will this new co-ed change bring? More opportunity. Families today want to participate in activity as a whole group - a team - and this change will allow that. Yes, there is a large population of "just boys" not being served. But at the same time GSUSA membership is declining as well. The BSA isn't poaching from GSUSA members, it's working to open up to that uncommitted population, to give both boys and girls an opportunity to participate.

I've known a lot of girls who were not enamored by the GSUSA, and wanted to do the fun things their brothers were doing. A new generation of girls now will have that opportunity.

And, as caution live frogs said, there's not a hard-and-fast rule book. Yes, Cub Scouts will have boy-dens and girl-dens. But there's nothing that says the Wolf Cub dens can't have a joint meeting where they share an opening activity, break off to their gendered-groups for achievement work, and then share a snack at the end. There are ways to make this work.

And it's kind of exciting to be involved as we work this all out. It's exciting to see changes that, even 10 years ago, were pretty much unthinkable. There will always be people that find the Boy Scouts distasteful, be it from past experiences, bitter histories, or just "not their thing". That's fine, there is a ton of other programs. I am happy to see our circle grow wider, and bring in more people, boys and girls, and know that as the circle expands so will viewpoints, and opinions, and perspectives, and the program will continue to grow and improve.
posted by jazon at 2:48 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


A family i know in Portland, Oregon, is active in the Baden-Powell Service Association (both the parents and the kids). Judging from the photos my friend has put up on Facebook over the years, the local branch appears to be good and they have more fun than i did in Cub Scouts / Boy Scouts.
posted by D.C. at 2:49 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


(Reverence doesn't mean being religious. Reverence means staying true to your own beliefs, and respecting the beliefs of others. That's how I teach the kids.

And good on you. I would bet your troop is awesome. As others have pointed out, all these organizations vary wildly from troop to troop.
posted by gurple at 3:02 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]


> they tried to foist off Girl Scout cookie-selling and singing on me instead of the tomboy adventures I dreamed off, I'm thrilled

Remember that thunderstorm we had last weekend? I was camping with my Girl Scouts in covered wagons, cooking Mystery Box food in a cook shelter (including over open fire), getting safely lost while orienteering, and wandering around after dark with night-vision goggles. It cost $25 per Scout, because the rest of the expenses were paid for with cookie money.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:18 PM on October 11 [16 favorites]


I just mentally add BSA to the list of things MeFi doesn't do well. It comes up, even in what seems to be a positive light, and there's an immediate outpouring of scorn, no matter what. For pete's sake, we're living in a country led by a misogynist bully, and a major youth organization with a history of strong conservative views openly (and unanimously) states "all girls are welcome here" ... and this is a bad thing somehow?

Yes, because the organization has had a tradition going back decades of discrimination against anyone who isn't a cisgender religious Christian. They have a horrible track record of homophobia and transphobia. They only removed the ban on gay Scouts in 2013. They didn't remove the ban on openly gay adult Scout leaders until 2015. For decades, Boy Scouts who were gay were flat out banned from the homophobic organization. Then for two years, openly gay Scouts were allowed, but would be banned when they turned 18. It took the Defense Secretary of the United States, Robert Gates, to warn the Scouts that their homophobia would "end" them as a "national movement" before they changed the policy. And that vote wasn't unanimous, either.

They stopped banning trans boys in January of this year.

Atheists and Agnostics still aren't allowed to be Scout leaders.

The "scorn" is well-deserved.

My daughter is in Girl Scouts. She's learned a heck of a lot of valuable skills there and I'm proud of her for it. I'd sign my son up for a GSUSA program in a hot minute if they were open to boys.

What parents like me need is not a Boy Scouts that is open to girls, it's a Girl Scouts organization that is open to boys.
posted by zarq at 3:38 PM on October 11 [49 favorites]


I know not every unit has leaders that would agree, but we don't care what god you believe in (or don't), what gender identity you have (if any), what ethnicity you might be. If you're in the south Minneapolis area, we'll gladly welcome your kid into our unit. If your local unit doesn't feel the same, there are ways to change that.

Okay, I'll bite: If a local unit is firm about the religious requirement, and a loud and proud atheist kid wants to be a Boy Scout but doesn't want to participate in any activity that requires believing in a god, what would be the ways to change that local unit so the kid could be welcomed into it?
posted by 23skidoo at 3:38 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


> What parents like me need is not a Boy Scouts that is open to girls, it's a Girl Scouts organization that is open to boys

Camp Fire!
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:42 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


Camp Fire!

They're fantastic, but not near us.
posted by zarq at 3:49 PM on October 11


> They're fantastic, but not near us

As a (Girl Scout) leader I am morally obligated to say: start your own troop!
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:50 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]


The decision to keep Cub scouts segregated is really unfortunate. That's a much smaller step than actual integration.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 3:51 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


Reverence doesn't mean being religious. Reverence means staying true to your own beliefs, and respecting the beliefs of others.

It's great that you're teaching kids in a way that respects people's beliefs or lack thereof, but this is full-on humpty. Words have meanings, and none of the dictionaries I've checked include this as one of the meanings of "reverence".
posted by Lexica at 3:54 PM on October 11 [6 favorites]


And yeah, if you aren't aware, this is like 98% a way to allow conservative religious people to get their daughters into a Scouting organization that's better aligned with their ultra-right-wing values. This is not a progressive move.

I don't think that's right. I think it's that BSA is shrinking and trying to staunch the flow however possible. (They exacerbated that recently by alienating the Mormons that provided a disproportionate share of funding and bodies, at the cost of basically integrating the organization into their religion.)

BSA is moving towards the center, not to the right. Booting the Mormons was Step 1. in the process.

Boy Scouts for 10+ years. (Never completed service project!) It's an imperfect organization, but I deeply appreciated it in my life. I've got girls in Girl Scouts. While I am more in line with their politics, I'm am pretty underwhelmed by it as an organization. Seems disorganized and poorly run (at least at the local level).
posted by leotrotsky at 4:04 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


The Goy Scouts?

I mean sure... but no.
posted by jessamyn at 4:23 PM on October 11 [3 favorites]


The Boy Scouts are already the "Goy Scouts" that's the point.
(Sry for the bad joke, shame upon me)
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:30 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


My daughter is in Girl Scouts. She's learned a heck of a lot of valuable skills there and I'm proud of her for it. I'd sign my son up for a GSUSA program in a hot minute if they were open to boys.

My fear, from the separate-but-equal guidance noted above, is that girls would be allowed to enter but would be marginalized, not elevated to leadership positions or fully equal to the boys within the organization. A ton depends on the leadership fully behind girls as fully equal members, and as many have pointed out before me, that leadership does not have a strong track record of progress. Girls and women have been subject to a lot of pricks in positions of power making the sexist subtext text (in the manner of ex-Google dumbass James Damore), and at present I would find it hard to trust the leadership of BSA including girls as fully equal and deserving.
posted by Existential Dread at 4:34 PM on October 11 [8 favorites]


Local unit is against an atheist? There’s always registering as a Lone Scout. If not flat out starting your own unit.

And for the record: I’m an atheist/agnostic Cub Scout den leader, committee chair, Wood Badger, Eagle Scout.

(Separate but equal girl Cub Dens? Let me tell you what that is: it’s code to allow units scared of integration to buy the idea, with full knowledge that in units like ours where there is only 1-2 girls, there is no freakin’ way we’re setting up an entirely separate den and finding a brand new den leader AND getting that person trained to run a den of 1 kid.)

And Lexica - re: reverence - isn’t “honor or respect felt or shown” the word-for-word definition you linked? How is “show respect for the beliefs of others” that different?
posted by caution live frogs at 5:40 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


I'm very glad for the folks in this thread who are working within BSA to make it a positive, inclusive experience for youth! My militaristic troop and my experiences with horrifying homophobia, racism, and misogyny at camp as a kid ensure that my daughter will never, under any circumstances, join BSA, but I'm glad there are folks still fighting the good fight within the organization.

Also, I want access to Tagalongs. Fuck that popcorn.
posted by duffell at 5:55 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


I liked Cub Scouts. Boy Scouts were mean. I quit the Boy Scouts after, while on a camping trip in 2001, they duct taped me to a tree and threw rocks towards me while the adults present laughed and eventually had them cut me down after 30 minutes.

Apparently I had gotten on peoples' nerves.

I'm pretty sure I would not let my kids join the Boy Scouts.
posted by floam at 7:25 PM on October 11 [4 favorites]


What parents like me need is not a Boy Scouts that is open to girls, it's a Girl Scouts organization that is open to boys.

I'm a childless male who never joined the Boy Scouts (because my parents were burned out from den parenting for my older brother). I have two nieces in Girl Scouts now, and they both love it and have done overnight camping and know more about taking care of themselves in the woods than I do. So I have literally no first hand expertise when I say: I don't think that's a thing you can have without losing what makes the Girl Scouts awesome.

Allowing boys in an organization like the Girl Scouts sounds great, but even I the childless dude think that the GSUSA does a very valuable, important thing by providing that space where girls get to learn all those scouting things without boys there to … be boys about it all. The same dynamic that's been observed in coed schools would likely repeat itself, and that's no good for anybody. And I don't think you can make a new coed organization in the model of the GSUSA without in the process messing up the GSUSA itself through competition for resources (both the adult leaders and the families who send their girls now). Like, it's a really nice idea but I feel like it would just ruin everything for everybody.
posted by fedward at 7:34 PM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Local unit is against an atheist? There’s always registering as a Lone Scout. If not flat out starting your own unit.

Excuse me while I laugh bleakly at the suggestion that "start your own one-person group!" is ANY kind of appropriate response to a child being excluded from what's supposed to be a communal, group organization. Are you actually listening to what you're saying?

And as far as this: And Lexica - re: reverence - isn’t “honor or respect felt or shown” the word-for-word definition you linked? How is “show respect for the beliefs of others” that different?

"Reverence" is generally understood to mean "respect felt or shown for the things an individual considers worthy". It has nothing to do with supporting or respecting the beliefs others hold. There are plenty of words that mean that (e.g., respect, recognition, ecumenical, inclusive, nonsectarian, intersectional… I could go on). Please don't try to redefine words to fit your purposes.
posted by Lexica at 7:57 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


Yep. In college there was a students lounge, and a women’s lounge. Because while boys and girls can hang out together, sometimes girls need a safe place. Our society has it set up such that the world itself is the safe place for most boys. Girls in Boy Scouts I’m all for, but I don’t think GSUSA should reciprocate.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:58 PM on October 11 [7 favorites]


Local unit is against an atheist? There’s always registering as a Lone Scout. If not flat out starting your own unit.

The national organization is against atheism. It's official policy.

Of the many lessons I hope to impart to my children as their parent, encouraging them to become card-carrying, badge-wearing, uniformed members of a national organization that embraces institutionalized discrimination and exclusion isn't one of them.
posted by zarq at 8:43 PM on October 11 [10 favorites]


Am I mistaken? I thought you couldn't be an open atheist and be welcomed as a Boy Scout.

I think it's always depended on the troop. There were several girls who were atheists in my Boy Scout post and it wasn't a problem for the post or leaders. It may have been a problem to them personally depending on the language in the pledge you have to sign to join. I remember reading it really closely to make sure I could legit join, with no lies, being bisexual, but I didn't look as closely at the god stuff. It only asked that I behaved morally, which I figured my dating both girls and boys affected not at all. I was out and, in Seattle in the late nineties, this bothered no one that I heard of. I know my experiences are quite different from many scouts and explorers, but it's something possible with good leaders.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:58 PM on October 11


I think it's possible for BSA to both be shitty and be struggling (not-quite-mightily) to de-encrust its shittiness. They've been doing wrong things wrongly for a long time. They are slowly moving towards enlightenment, which is not a switch that one flips, but a journey of many, many steps. And there have been, are, and will be, missteps along the way.

The Boy Scouts absolutely need progressive leadership from individual units pushing back against conservative and anachronistic values. At the same time, the people who are critical of the organization and would not allow their children or younger relatives to participate are also correct. Many of the official standards and practices of the Boy Scouts would be incompatible with progressive ideals.

The BSA are in a changing state. We don't know if they will come out improved enough, or even improved at all. Supporters of BSA should acknowledge that BSA is barely emerging from its terribleness and has a long way to improve. Critics of BSA should admit that the BSA is trying to improve, even if they aren't doing in fast enough, the right way, or will ever improve enough. The effort, while as yet insufficient, is worthy.
posted by aureliobuendia at 9:19 PM on October 11 [5 favorites]


I remember my Mom being annoyed when Camp Fire went coed. We were not in the organization for long because Dad was such a skinflint, but Mom had been a Bluebird and a Camp Fire Girl and had all kinds of memories around that.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:20 PM on October 11


The Boy Scouts are already the "Goy Scouts" that's the point.

At the risk of appearing humorless, I know of a Jewish Boy Scout troop.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:23 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


I think it's always depended on the troop.

I guess I wasn't exactly clear. When I said "I thought you couldn't be an open atheist and be welcomed as a Boy Scout", what I really meant was "I thought being an atheist was something that the Boy Scouts of America specifically prohibited, which will prevent some atheist kids being able to join the BSA."
posted by 23skidoo at 9:32 PM on October 11


[cw: sexual abuse of minors] BSA basically operates the same space in my heart as the Catholic Church. I have a few fond memories that are vastly outweighed by the toxic bullshit and abuse that not only went unchecked, but was sometimes actively encouraged by the highest levels of local leadership--by the trusted adults that were supposed to protect us. In the Church, this took the form of teachers and principals that told me my gay family members and Jewish friends were taking Lucifer's expressway straight to hell, and ALSO 2 of my 3 childhood priests raping children, which the bishop was aware of and helped to cover up. In BSA, this took the form of a troop leader who felt bullying "built character" and actively encouraged bullying by mocking--to the other children in his care--the "sissies" in his troop that came to him in confidence to talk about their difficulties with other scouts. It also took the form of me meeting, for the first time, actual neo-nazis at scout camp, including the senior patrol leader of another troop who was quite open about his ideology (with the apparent blessing of his troop leader) and who used summer camps as an opportunity to recruit kids to his cause.

Now, I have friends and family who remain very involved in both of these organizations, wonderful people all, and they are fully aware of their organizations' flaws and they do work very hard to make those organizations better, safer places for kids (and adults!). And I'm grateful for that.

As an adult, however, I came to learn that while all organizations are flawed, there are actually plenty of organizations that are not utterly toxic in their leadership structure, or their culture, or their guiding ideology, and that there is a whole world of options out there, and there's really no requirement that any of us pour our time and labor (emotional and otherwise) into reforming organizations that have repeatedly demonstrated disdain and hostility toward the very notion of reform. I do remain grateful for the people who are pushing against the current to try and make these organizations better, but at the end of the day, there is zero chance, fucking zero, that my child will be joining either of these organizations for as long as she is in my care.
posted by duffell at 9:41 PM on October 11 [9 favorites]


I was a Cub Scout right up until Webelo camp, at which really weird stuff happened that caused me to nope out of the whole enterprise. My dad was bummed, but oh well. Can't remember anything they taught me anyhow, other than never be alone with the camp nurse's son.
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:44 PM on October 11


(Really, why not set up an organization where kids can earn ALL the merit badges? Would someone get mad at me? So what if we allow anyone to join? There's too much neat stuff to learn to keep it separate, IMO.)
posted by filthy light thief


Make an adult version of this organisation and I would join it in a heartbeat.

I went to all-girls schools in Malaysia, so we had Girl Guides, under the same umbrella org that GSUSA is covered by. (Guides and similar orgs were administered by schools as a kind of after-school/Saturday activity; I don't think there was an independent/non-school option but I might be wrong.) I enjoyed being in the Guides a lot, but my Guides teacher had this really weird rule that we weren't allowed to type up our badge-earning reports - we had to handwrite them and make them pretty and such. I am not very efficient with handwriting but was a very early adopter of computers. And while I was very much a "do ALL the things" person, and even tried out for a whole bunch of badges, that handwritten-reports-only requirement was enough to make me go "fuck this shit" and end up never officially earning any of them. If that rule had been removed I bet you I'd get that Gold award.

I don't know anything about how the Malaysian version of the Boy Scouts worked, nor how it differed from the Girl Guides/Scouts (I kinda figured it was the same activities overall). Neither group struck me as being necessarily more progressive than the other - it's Malaysia, so everyone would have the "must believe in God!!" rule and probably won't be friendly to queers by virtue of our existence being illegal. Notably the Guides didn't give me shit for being a racial minority (which is rare) but I don't know if that's necessarily a nationwide policy.

I've been trying to find an adult version of the Scouts/Guides for some time - I'm aware that you can join in as an adult leader, but the local groups here kind of want you to be already involved in the local groups in some fashion as a former child member or a parent, and I come from another country. Also, no badges to earn. I just want my badges goddamnit.
posted by divabat at 3:43 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Look, I never joined the Boy Scouts and aside from difficulty starting a fire from two twigs while also expressing just the right amount of hatred against homosexuals, I turned out just fine.
posted by Muddler at 5:11 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


It’s great that there are some local troops or packs that are cool with atheist scouts or leaders, ignoring the official regulations of BSA. But when you’re a kid in Alabama who likes camping and that is 150% not your local, what are you supposed to do? Having a supportive and inclusive national organization means you have someone to appeal to about bigot adults. Otherwise, it’s hard enough to go it alone that there’s less than no point in trying to stick it out, unless you’re willing to swallow a lot of pride (read: misfit angst).
posted by supercres at 6:08 AM on October 12 [10 favorites]


I dropped out of Scouting when they started making us wear our uniform to meetings; at the time, I could barely cope with regular clothes. I'd have liked to carry on with an outdoorsy-skills thing that didn't have paramilitary trappings, perhaps.
posted by thelonius at 6:20 AM on October 12


My nephew (6) started Scouts recently, much to my surprise considering my sister is ever further left than I am and I figured she'd be against it, but instead she was mostly the motivator for her son's decision to join. It wasn't really a controversial matter; they went to a local chapter meeting, he did some activities, he thinks it's fun and he wants to keep doing it. I have trust in both of them that if he ever finds himself no longer enjoying it and/or his mother sees that, he'll stop.

For me it's one of those tough line situations where I'm aware of the numerous flaws and problems with BSA but at the same time I'm not in any position to make the decisions for ether my nephew or his mother, and when they're both saying nothing but good things about what he's doing, who they hell am I to comment any way.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:38 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


What I've taken from this thread is that far, far too many GSUSA troops are (or are perceived to me) much more boring than my own GSUSA troop. Ours was structured unusually in many ways, though (involvement was expected from every parent, not just "leaders", most - but not all - involved parents were dads, we were super huge and therefore had a ton of money to pay for cool stuff with, etc.) All my camping and car repair and egg drop contest and so many other types of knowledge came from girl scouting.
posted by mosst at 7:51 AM on October 12 [3 favorites]


The most memorable girl scout meeting I had will always be the meeting that two female FBI agents came to present about their work, because - to this day - my mental image of federal agents is always those two women. Even though I know male federal agents, now, too. That kind of early exposure really influences your perception of the world.
posted by mosst at 7:54 AM on October 12 [17 favorites]


Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.

Ughghghhghhgh. What is the point if it's all gender-segregated anyway? If you think the BSA is so great that girls should be able to join, why aren't co-ed dens an option?
posted by desuetude at 8:15 AM on October 12 [1 favorite]


If you think the BSA is so great that girls should be able to join, why aren't co-ed dens an option?

Baby steps: I bet that will be the defacto state in like five years.

Very few areas have enough interested people to stand up an entire free-standing Pack or Troop. (Like, if you could find a dozen adults and two dozen kids to start up a good Troop, wouldn't you already be doing it as a GSUSA unit?!)

My expectation is that these will be "paper" units that are composed of all the same leaders as the local all-boy unit, and the meetings and events will take place *cough* In Cooperation With the other unit.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:33 AM on October 12 [2 favorites]


I was a Star Scout and did OA. My sons are Star & Life now, and I know a lot of Eagle Scouts. I was in a tiny troop who did hardly any advancement; my sons were in an Eagle factory but switched last year to another troop.

All that said: there's a lot of sound & fury right now, and not so much with the facts. For example, the BSA's own FAQ on Family Scouting about this says, in part:
There is research that indicates boys and girls together at the Cub Scout age in a nurturing environment have more benefits than single gender. At the same time, there is research that shows strong single-gender benefits – and we know parents have diverse perspectives on the topic, so we want to provide options with what best meets their needs.
That's why there are going to be different gender policies for Cubs and Boy Scouts.

Also, from the press release, there is this:
Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank.
What I am hearing is that Boy Scout troops will still be all-boys, plus there will be all-girl Boy Scout troops that follow the same rank advancement rules.

I agree that local councils/districts or individual units will choose to ignore parts of this, as they always have (pace caution live frogs, above). Since the chartering organization has to approve any such changes, it's likely that progressive groups will embrace the change while conservative chartering orgs will reject it. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 8:45 AM on October 12


I was camping with my Girl Scouts in covered wagons, cooking Mystery Box food in a cook shelter (including over open fire), getting safely lost while orienteering, and wandering around after dark with night-vision goggles. It cost $25 per Scout, because the rest of the expenses were paid for with cookie money.

That's great! But was that a special occasion, or what does your troupe usually do? I know when I was of Girl Scout age, the meetings were not usually particularly outdoorsy, and they were focused primarily on selling and singing. And maybe you have to sell a lot of cookies for a nice wilderness experience these days, but if so, that's still not a lot of fun for girls who want more outdoors and fire and rifles and less Learn To Run A Business.
posted by corb at 9:46 AM on October 12


> That's great! But was that a special occasion, or what does your troupe usually do?

We go camping a few times a year, as resources (cash, time, volunteer availability) allow. Most meetings we do crafts. Some meetings we talk about stereotypes. Some meetings we watch movies in my back yard while eating pizza. Some meetings we go to the archery range. Some meetings we go on hikes. Some meetings we tour the animal shelter. Some meetings we train for an upcoming outdoor-skills competition. And then we do even more crafts, because the girls love them and we're girl-led.

> maybe you have to sell a lot of cookies for a nice wilderness experience these days

Well, the money has to come from somewhere. Reserving a campsite, gas, groceries, propane, tents, sleeping bags, batteries -- it all costs, and Girl Scout troops don't have the sponsors that Boy Scouts do (which is also why we can have transgender girls and atheist leaders, etc). So yeah, we sell cookies, and candy, and nuts, and magazine subscriptions. There aren't many fundraising opportunities when you're 11 years old.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:59 PM on October 12 [8 favorites]


Yeah, that's legit. So it's possible I would have enjoyed a well funded Girl Scout experience, but there wasn't one - which is possibly why the Girl Scouts are kind of pissed the Boy Scouts are poaching - because they have the money to offer those experiences without having to focus as much on troupe-level fundraising, and most kids are going to prefer the fun stuff that comes with a God side to the freedom of stuff without it.
posted by corb at 2:38 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


One of the things I've observed is that every time (I mean like every fucking time) the BSA makes the news the people with strong, experienced based opinions come one of two ways. Either a) "I loved scouting! Our Scoutmaster was a really awesome guy who made it about camping and canoeing and, yeah, teamwork and could give a shit less about the stick the parent organization has up it's ass." or b) "I hated scouting." and usually following that with a story about how their local leader had that stick up his own ass.

I'm hopeful that this is the awesome guys doing an end run around the folks with the stick, but only time will tell.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 3:17 PM on October 12 [1 favorite]


Kid C., that's basically the whole issue.

But with the national office behind this, girls+parents will have real leverage to beat down reactionary ScoutMasters (as long as the chartering org. is OK with her, that is).
posted by wenestvedt at 4:33 PM on October 12


Will you really say, "my kids, regardless of gender, will join the Boy Scouts over my dead body." Will your past experiences cloud your current judgement?

Yep, I sure will. Or rather, I sure did. My atheist (both) and queer (one) sons were anathema to the BSA anyway.

The "can't be moral without god" bullshit is abhorrent.

Good that they are starting to change, and good on you for working towards that, but that policy means no support from me until it's gone.
posted by MissySedai at 7:02 PM on October 12 [3 favorites]


Wait- boy scots troups just get money for their activities?!? From where?
posted by raccoon409 at 7:57 PM on October 12


I was fairly agnostic about this until I read Halloween Jack's link regarding the angry letter sent by GSA's president being responded to by BSA's president reaching out to her employer. Which merit badge is the "threatening women's livelihoods when they challenge male authority"? Is that only for Eagle Scouts or do we start training for that in cub scouts?
posted by Toddles at 2:46 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


There are lots of donations to Scouting from local and national businesses, but that covers Council costs. Every unit I have been in (since the early 80s, across 3 states) had to charge dues and do fundraising to cover expenses, and we paid our own way to camps and activities. If there are “sponsors” and not just “donors” I’ve never heard of it.
posted by caution live frogs at 4:52 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


> There are lots of donations to Scouting from local and national businesses, but that covers Council costs

That's nothing to sneeze at! A chunk of the cookie money my Scouts raise goes to our council (which also gets donations from other organizations, individuals, etc).

This is based just on talking to friends who have kids in Boy Scouts, so I could have misunderstood. But some troops (packs? dens? units? I don't know the BSA lingo) my friends' kids are in are run by their churches, or sponsored by private businesses, and they get a lot of support from that, including volunteers, equipment, and a place to meet.
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:36 AM on October 13 [2 favorites]


> Baby steps: I bet that will be the defacto state in like five years. Very few areas have enough interested people to stand up an entire free-standing Pack or Troop. (Like, if you could find a dozen adults and two dozen kids to start up a good Troop, wouldn't you already be doing it as a GSUSA unit?!) My expectation is that these will be "paper" units that are composed of all the same leaders as the local all-boy unit, and the meetings and events will take place *cough* In Cooperation With the other unit.

This is not leadership on the part of the BSA. This is not inclusion. And as soon as some (locally powerful) parent gets their knickers in a twist over a girl being in their sons troop, it'll be NO NO THAT'S NOT POLICY SEZ BSA.
posted by desuetude at 6:30 AM on October 13


Girl Scouts are awesome. I had great experiences, learned so many things, went on awesome camping trips, went to the best summer camp ever. A lot of different things about my childhood get credit for me growing up to be an ecologist, but GSUSA certainly deserves some. My Girl Scout camp in the 1980s and 90s had lesbian counselors with no fear that they would sexually assault us (because that's a dumb thing to think). They taught us proper flag etiquette, but I also learned from a black counselor about why some Americans might choose to not salute the flag.

From the Boy Scouts I knew growing up, so much of their identity was shaped by the need to not do anything that would make the other boys call them a girl or suggest they were gay. I'm so incredibly glad that I got to go camping, sailing, hiking, cross-country skiing, and dogsledding, learn all kinds of skills from auto mechanics to some pretty complicated craft stuff all without the misogyny and homophobia that seemed to permeate all the male dominated spaces of my childhood.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:52 AM on October 14 [3 favorites]


More evidence the Boy Scouts are hopelessly screwed up: 11 year old kicked out of Cub Scout troop for asking senator a gun contro question. It often seems to me that the BSA really doesn’t have a clear direction and policy changes like allowing girls are just desperate flailing about.
posted by TedW at 9:05 AM on October 22 [1 favorite]


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