The New ‘Scouts BSA’ Troops Aren’t Going Co-ed After All

 

According to the Washington Times, the newly-rebranded Scouts BSA is not switching to co-ed troops. Instead, they’re creating new all-female Scout troops that co-exist alongside the all-male troops.

This sorta-kinda suggests that folks (myself included) may have been wrong to presume that this policy is all about watering-down the BSA to make it more girl-friendly. Instead, it really could be about creating opportunities for girls to get the sort of badass outdoor training and experience that helps foster values like self-sufficiency and individual responsibility that the Cookie Scouts of America seemingly refuses to provide, while still maintaining the benefit of single-sex troops.

For Caroline Hurley of the District, an inclusive Boy Scouts allows both of her 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, to be in the program, albeit in separate troops. It also provides weekend activities that her daughter lost when the local Girl Scout program disbanded.

“We had witnessed this wonderful scouting program for my son … and heard on the news that the Boy Scouts program would be expanding and opening up to girls,” Ms. Hurley said. “My daughter was right on it. She wanted to join the minute she heard the news.”

Sadly, if this plan actually does work out well in the real world, one fears it won’t last long. It just seems like way too good an idea to survive a “separate but equal” court challenge.

There are 37 comments.

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  1. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Meanwhile, just look at the difference in tone and focus between the two organizations’ websites:

    Scouts BSA:

    Every image is of the outdoors, and adventure, and personal achievement, and self-management, and girls actually, you know, doing stuff.

    By contrast, over at the Girl Scouts of the USA

    …the primary image they use to promote themselves is a classroom, the majority of the site is about politics and advocacy rather than about the actual services the organization provides, and nearly every text blurb seems to highlight female vulnerability rather than promoting individual capability.

    It really evokes images closer to that of Lenin’s Young Pioneers than to what the Baden-Powell family envisioned.

     

    (Images from the 1918 edition of Scouting For Girls and the 1917 edition of How Girls Can Help Their Country.)

    • #1
  2. Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw Member
    Matt Balzer, Imperialist Claw
    @MattBalzer

    Misthiocracy secretly: Sadly, if this plan actually does work out well in the real world, one fears it won’t last long. It just seems like way too good an idea to survive a “separate but equal” court challenge.

    As it stands it’s one organization. Could they set up a separate organization for girls that kept the same programs?

    Granted that’s basically Girl Scouts all over again, but I don’t know how else yoy would do it.

    • #2
  3. FightinInPhilly Coolidge
    FightinInPhilly
    @FightinInPhilly

    If this is truly the direction they want to go, I’m ok with it.

    I noted the original story in a post back in 2017 Boys Scouts to Admit Girls. Sigh.  and received some thoughtful pushback from @bryangstephens, a fellow Eagle (so he must be a good guy). This seems to take the best ideas he was advocating while avoiding the risks of co-ed troops which had me so concerned. I’ve always thought the modern Girl Scouts were cheating girls out of some fantastic outdoor adventure, so hopefully, this becomes an outlet for the young ladies not interested in walking forlornly around their parent’s offices with overpriced fat pills. Fingers crossed. 

    • #3
  4. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Misthiocracy secretly:

    According to the Washington Times, the newly-rebranded Scouts BSA is not switching to co-ed troops. Instead, they’re creating new all-female Scout troops that co-exist alongside the all-male troops.

    This sorta kinda suggests that folk (myself included) may have been wrong to presume that this policy is all about watering-down the BSA to make it more girl-friendly, and instead it really is about creating opportunities for girls to get the sort of badass outdoor training and experience which helps foster values like self-sufficiency and individual responsibility that the Cookie Scouts of America seemingly refuses to provide, while still maintaining the benefits of single-sex troops.

    For Caroline Hurley of the District, an inclusive Boy Scouts allows both of her 13-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, to be in the program, albeit in separate troops. It also provides weekend activities that her daughter lost when the local Girl Scout program disbanded.

    “We had witnessed this wonderful scouting program for my son … and heard on the news that the Boy Scouts program would be expanding and opening up to girls,” Ms. Hurley said. “My daughter was right on it. She wanted to join the minute she heard the news.”

    Sadly, if this plan actually does work out well in the real world, one fears it won’t last long. It just seems like way too good an idea to survive a “separate but equal” court challenge.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/feb/2/first-all-girl-troops-welcomed-boy-scouts

    I don’t see how you can challenge this in court. It is not schools.

    Let me post what I will say to my Church on Scout Sunday:

    I want to thank First United Methodist Church for its support of our Scouting Programs. This organization is the Charter Organization for Pack and Troop 277. I represent the Church as the representative over all Scouting programs. This Church has been supporting Scouting for close to 100 years. Scout Sunday is celebrated as the annual birthday of Boy Scouts in America. It is also a way for us to say thank you.

    This year, the Boy Scouts of America have seen a big change in the admission of Girls into the ranks of Scouting I want to take this time to set the story straight on what is going on. In 2017, Boy Scouts of America announced it would add Girls to its Cub Scout and Scouting Programs. Cubs came in 2018, and this year marks the first Girl Troops. Girls were already a part of the 14-21 Venturing parts of Scouts, and now they can participate in Scouting at all levels.

    Cub Scouts has always been a family program. Little sisters, like my daughter, tagged along and did the events, but could not earn the awards. Today, a Pack can have all boy and all girl dens. I am proud to say Pack 277 has a girl Arrow of Light Den. For Scouting, the program called “The Boy Scouts” has been named “Scouting: BSA”. The name of the organization, Boy Scouts of America has not changed. Girl troops may now be formed. Cobb County has two now, one at Walker, and one at St. Peter, St. Paul with almost 50 girls already registered. Starting in 2019, girls have the opportunity to earn the high honor of Eagle Scout.

    If you have any questions, my information is in the bulletin. Please contact me, and I will be happy to meet with you, and answer any questions you may have.

    Thank you, and remember, It’s a great day for Scouting!

    Also, this document outlines all the changes:

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/pjr1y563670vlf7/_Family%20Scouting.pdf?dl=0

    Thank you FightinginPhilly for the summons.

    Boy Scouts of America now gives girls who want it, a chance to learn Duty to God and Country in the only major national youth program I know that still teaches it. And Boy Scouts of America joins every other Scouting program in offering the same thing to girls as every other Scouting organization in the world. Except the Saudis. They don’t let girls in.

    I have wanted this since I was a boy in Scouting myself.

    Scout me In!

    • #4
  5. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    I don’t know that a “separate but equal” court challenge would have any more validity now than it did before. SCOTUS already affirmed that BSA, as a private organization, had a right to free association to include its membership and organizational policies.

    However, I believe your first instinct is correct. Concerns about feminizing BSA are justified. This isn’t about making BSA “girl-friendly” but its not about creating “badass outdoor training” opportunities either. This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up. 

    Girl scouts responded to declining interest by eliminating core activities and converting their membership into a part time sales force. A demand for cookies and self-righteous advocacy keeps them going.

    Financially speaking, BSA can’t compete with cookie sales. All of their changes to appeal to more social justice types have been an effort to retain corporate sponsors an expand the recruiting pool. Such is a free market. But, if major decisions are being driven by economic concerns, minor ones will be too. Trying to keep everyone happy will most certainly lead to a watering down of the organization’s mission.

    I’m not claiming that having all-girls troops is a bad idea. And I’m not saying that girls wouldn’t be interested in the traditional Scout experience. But BSA can’t afford for this to fail. They need those all-girl troops to have a healthy membership.

    Here’s where I’m coming from:

    I was a member of two different troops when I was the appropriate age. The first was poorly funded. Just four core members with an occasional 5th or 6th trying it out for the week. But the Troop leaders and parents were dedicated. We learned to fish in every season, sharpen axes and prep firewood, cooking over and under campfires, knots, and swimming. This is just what comes to mind after 25 years.

    That troop lasted 3 years. The troop leader found a more distant troop where his son could have the organizational support for the Eagle Scout Service Project.

    Two of us transferred to the other local troop which was well funded and active. Thirty plus boys could be counted on to show up for any given outing. It was easy. Board games in the church basement. Roller rink on special occasions. In a year we went “camping” once and everyone slept on air mattresses in the dining hall. Badges were rubber stamped and parents were happy. It’s what people wanted. But I didn’t learn a thing.

    Of course, everything is subject to the dedication of individual parents and troop leaders. But on the whole, which is winning? Maintenance of standards? Or participation badges for all?

     

    • #5
  6. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up. 

    I disagree. 

    • #6
  7. FightinInPhilly Coolidge
    FightinInPhilly
    @FightinInPhilly

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Thank you FightinginPhilly for the summons.

    I can never tell if you’re annoyed with me or not.

    • #7
  8. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up.

    I disagree.

    How so? BSA has lost 300,000 members in the last 5 years. Thats roughly 10 million in membership dues alone.

    Additionally, over the last 10 years, many major corporate sponsors have pulled their regular donations. Caterpillar, Intel, Chase–just to name a few who ended their relationship with scouting specifically over issues of inclusivity. 

    Finally, do you have an idea of how expensive it is to take an urban troop camping or swimming? United Way was incredibly valuable for facilitating that sort of urban organization. But many local chapters have ended their BSA partnerships as well.

    • #8
  9. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    Meanwhile, just look at the difference in tone and focus between the two organizations’ websites:

    Scouts BSA:

    Every image is of the outdoors, and adventure, and personal achievement, and self-management, and girls actually, you know, doing stuff.

    By contrast, over at the Girl Scouts of the USA

    …the primary image they use to promote themselves is a classroom, the majority of the site is about politics and advocacy rather than about the actual services the organization provides, and nearly every text blurb seems to highlight female vulnerability rather than promoting individual capability.

    It really evokes images closer to that of Lenin’s Young Pioneers than to what the Baden-Powell family envisioned.

    (Images from the 1918 edition of Scouting For Girls and the 1917 edition of How Girls Can Help Their Country.)

    A Frontier-woman’s Ride for Life?  Doesn’t that kinda go against the emphasis on abortion rights?  

    • #9
  10. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    Enough with the rebranding. This is a BSA. 

    • #10
  11. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up.

    I disagree.

    How so? BSA has lost 300,000 members in the last 5 years. Thats roughly 10 million in membership dues alone.

    Additionally, over the last 10 years, many major corporate sponsors have pulled their regular donations. Caterpillar, Intel, Chase–just to name a few who ended their relationship with scouting specifically over issues of inclusivity.

    Finally, do you have an idea of how expensive it is to take an urban troop camping or swimming? United Way was incredibly valuable for facilitating that sort of urban organization. But many local chapters have ended their BSA partnerships as well.

    a) The Girl Scouts Of The USA has seen an equivalent drop in membership over the same period.  They aren’t changing their formula.

    b) Who cares what the motivation is for the change in policy?  The important thing is the results, which will take time to gauge.

    • #11
  12. Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke Contributor
    Hank Rhody, Meddling Cowpoke
    @HankRhody

    FightinInPhilly (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Thank you FightinginPhilly for the summons.

    I can never tell if you’re annoyed with me or not.

    Bryan is a pretty straightforward guy. If he’s annoyed with you he’ll let you know. In this case he is not.

    As to the OP, I’ll call this a good sign.

    • #12
  13. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    FightinInPhilly (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Thank you FightinginPhilly for the summons.

    I can never tell if you’re annoyed with me or not.

    I was happy to come say my piece here. I was delighted. 

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up.

    I disagree.

    How so? BSA has lost 300,000 members in the last 5 years. Thats roughly 10 million in membership dues alone.

    Additionally, over the last 10 years, many major corporate sponsors have pulled their regular donations. Caterpillar, Intel, Chase–just to name a few who ended their relationship with scouting specifically over issues of inclusivity.

    Finally, do you have an idea of how expensive it is to take an urban troop camping or swimming? United Way was incredibly valuable for facilitating that sort of urban organization. But many local chapters have ended their BSA partnerships as well.

    BSA is not about making money, and it is not about chasing money. Money spent on dues mostly supports the local units and councils. BSA has stated this is not about trying to increase numbers. And I will choose to that the Boy Scouts of America at their word. A Scout is Trustworthy. 

     

    • #14
  15. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    a) The Girl Scouts Of The USA has seen an equivalent drop in membership over the same period. They aren’t changing their formula.

    They did change their formula–isn’t that the whole point of your follow up post? They used to offer many of the same things BSA did. Now they are just a cookie dispensary. Their organization isn’t supported by membership. They are supported by cookie sales–and those are increasing.

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    b) Who cares what the motivation is for the change in policy? The important thing is the results, which will take time to gauge.

    The motivation matters because it determines how the results are measured. See above. Girl Scouts don’t care that their membership is declining because the $$$ are increasing.  If this policy doesn’t fix the money problem, it doesn’t fix the problem. 

    If in 5-10 years, girl’s membership remains a fraction of boy’s membership–even while overall membership declines, what then? Is the policy’s existence enough to regain sponsorships? Most certainly not.

    • #15
  16. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    The Heathen is asserting monetary causation without evidence. Pointing out that the organization is hard-pressed for revenue isn’t evidence that it’s making structural changes merely to secure more revenue. Shoot, I’ve been involved with all sorts of struggling non-profits that did what they did for one or another cause, often to their financial detriment. I’ve no reason to doubt that the Boy Scouts aren’t similarly mission-focused.

    • #16
  17. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    a) The Girl Scouts Of The USA has seen an equivalent drop in membership over the same period. They aren’t changing their formula.

    They did change their formula–isn’t that the whole point of your follow up post? They used to offer many of the same things BSA did. Now they are just a cookie dispensary. Their organization isn’t supported by membership. They are supported by cookie sales–and those are increasing.

    To the best of my understanding, they had become a political advocacy group and cookie dispensary long before 2014.

    https://www.girlscouts.org/en/about-girl-scouts/our-history/timeline.html

    Some folk point to 1998 as the year they really started to make selling cookies encouraging female entrepreneurship a core purpose of the organization rather than simply a fundraising activity, because that was the year they instituted badges and other awards for girls who met their cookie quotas demonstrated entrepreneurial spirit.

    One might note that the troop only gets about 15% of the profit.  The “area council” gets over 70%.  The national organization gets its cut directly from the bakeries (i.e. Keebler) in the form of licensing fees.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_Scout_Cookies

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/42270952/ns/business-small_business/t/how-girl-scouts-built-their-million-cookie-empire

    • #17
  18. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    BSA is not about making money, and it is not about chasing money. Money spent on dues mostly supports the local units and councils. BSA has stated this is not about trying to increase numbers. And I will choose to that the Boy Scouts of America at their word. A Scout is Trustworthy.

    That’s very naive.

    Now, I’m not suggesting that BSA is turning in to GSA. They are all about that cookie dough. But financial realities are realities. You can’t spend money supporting local units and councils if you don’t have it. And they dont have it. I’m talking revenue. Not profits.

    This is why I told the story of my first troop. Despite the honorable intentions of our troop leader, 4 Scouts and 1 troop leader paying dues could not keep it afloat. 1 person moved on, as happens in life, and then another, and that was the end. I was the youngest of the 5 and no-one joined after me. 

    If BSA wants to continue to exist, even in its diminished state, it has to increase revenue. 

    • #18
  19. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

     

    I am not a cynic when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America.

    Indeed, I am not a cynic.

    • #19
  20. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I am not a cynic when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America.

    Indeed, I am not a cynic.

    I’ll drink to that!

    • #20
  21. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    I believe they had become a political advocacy group and cookie dispensary long before 2014.

    Most certainly. And their cookie sales focus is more than a couple decades old by now too. And yet, revenue has increased while membership has decreased. They aren’t really contributing anything. But they have a future (Can’t remember the last time I saw a girl scout, but how many order forms have I received from mothers who blast it to their whole address book?). Can BSA say they have a mission and a future? Not without revenue they cant. 

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    The Heathen is asserting monetary causation without evidence. Pointing out that the organization is hard-pressed for revenue isn’t evidence that it’s making structural changes merely to secure more revenue. Shoot, I’ve been involved with all sorts of struggling non-profits that did what they did for one or another cause, often to their financial detriment. I’ve no reason to doubt that the Boy Scouts aren’t similarly mission-focused.

    My original post did cite evidence. Anecdotal to be sure. But evidence enough for a conversational forum if not a scientific one. Neither of his responses contained evidence, anecdotal or otherwise. Simply a statement of faith. Which is fine. But not persuasive.

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Here’s where I’m coming from . . .

    Also from my Original comment: 

    I’m not claiming that having all-girls troops is a bad idea. And I’m not saying that girls wouldn’t be interested in the traditional Scout experience.

    Monetary decisions and mission dedication are not mutually exclusive. And this doesn’t have to be either–But denying a monetary motive is just denying reality. If they had a healthy membership and good sponsorships they would not be making structural changes. Period. 

    The value of a BSA troop is completely dependent on the individual leaders and local councils. However, if membership doesn’t turn around, those local charters will be underfunded–if they continue to exist at all. I’ve been there. I was in a traditional troop that died out. Then I got stuck with a non-traditional one. In the 7th grade I was CPR certified. In the 8th grade I had an ice cream party.

    If you’re in a healthy scouting culture thats great. But that wasn’t my home town. And that isn’t the case in many areas across the country. 80,000 a year are leaving from somewhere. What decisions will a local council make to keep a girl’s troop afloat? What will that mean for their established male counterparts? 

    When push comes to shove, people will make decisions to keep people coming back. And in this culture, that’s not the traditional scouting experience–for boys or girls.

    • #21
  22. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I am not a cynic when it comes to the Boy Scouts of America.

    Indeed, I am not a cynic.

    This is fair. And I am not a cynic–normally. But with Boy Scouts I most certainly am.

    That’s what’s so bothersome. I value what they purport to teach. I value their mission. But, living in suburbia, I won’t be able to trust them to teach my sons or daughters what they gave up on teaching me.

    • #22
  23. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    I believe they had become a political advocacy group and cookie dispensary long before 2014.

    Most certainly. And their cookie sales focus is more than a couple decades old by now too. And yet, revenue has increased while membership has decreased. They aren’t really contributing anything. But they have a future (Can’t remember the last time I saw a girl scout, but how many order forms have I received from mothers who blast it to their whole address book?). Can BSA say they have a mission and a future? Not without revenue they cant.

    According to Wikipedia, their current financial troubles have more to do with the legal costs of the sexual abuse lawsuits against them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America#Financial_problems

    • #23
  24. bmboucher Coolidge
    bmboucher
    @bmboucher

    So, first off, as far as the “politics” side of this goes, I don’t really care. Let in girls, let in transgender kids, scouting is one of the most fun and productive activities I’ve had a chance to get involved in with my kids and I want everyone to get a chance to do it.

    But…. there’s definitely some BSA politics gripes I have on this. I should note I’ve only been involved with Cub Scouts so far and I don’t know how different it is a the Boy Scout level, but the one thing that really sticks out at you is how much work parents do to make scouts work. The national organization gives us basically nothing but a curriculum which isn’t always realistic (lots of long talks about citizenship with rowdy 8-year-olds at the end of a school day makes me wonder how many real children were involved in creating it) and access to some wonderful campsite properties – but we pay through the nose for it. My least favorite part of the year is fundraising, where we send young boys out to sell insanely high-priced popcorn, of which 1/3 of the sales come back to us and most of that gets paid to our district in dues. When I was a den leader, I was constantly spending money on materials and we all chip in for food on the group campouts – that’s after we sell $400 of popcorn for the privilege.

    So the BSA asks a lot of its parent volunteers and gives them not all that much in return; and in that context, extending scouting to girls has some issues. For starters, the reason they did it has nothing to do with politics – participation dropped by like 15% the year before, they needed fresh blood. They made that decision without consulting us parents at all, and since we have to create a new den for any girl that wants to join (and our ~40-60 kid den attracted a grand total of one) that means we have to rope one more parent in to volunteer more of their time when that is already one of the hardest things to do. So the BSA basically said, “we need more scouts, you need to do more with less, no we don’t care how you feel about it”.

    • #24
  25. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    This is about money. Pure and simple. Membership is declining while costs for traditional scouting activities are going up.

    I disagree.

    How so? BSA has lost 300,000 members in the last 5 years. Thats roughly 10 million in membership dues alone.

    Additionally, over the last 10 years, many major corporate sponsors have pulled their regular donations. Caterpillar, Intel, Chase–just to name a few who ended their relationship with scouting specifically over issues of inclusivity.

    Finally, do you have an idea of how expensive it is to take an urban troop camping or swimming? United Way was incredibly valuable for facilitating that sort of urban organization. But many local chapters have ended their BSA partnerships as well.

    BSA is not about making money, and it is not about chasing money. Money spent on dues mostly supports the local units and councils. BSA has stated this is not about trying to increase numbers. And I will choose to that the Boy Scouts of America at their word. A Scout is Trustworthy.

     

    A Scout may be trustworthy, but scouting professionals and bigwigs not so much sometimes.

    • #25
  26. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    Virtuous Heathen (View Comment):
    hey did change their formula–isn’t that the whole point of your follow up post? They used to offer many of the same things BSA did. Now they are just a cookie dispensary. Their organization isn’t supported by membership. They are supported by cookie sales–and those are increasing.

    Indeed, and individual GS troops can offer good program to the girls. My wife does. 

    • #26
  27. Misthiocracy secretly Member
    Misthiocracy secretly
    @Misthiocracy

    bmboucher (View Comment):

    I should note I’ve only been involved with Cub Scouts so far and I don’t know how different it is a the Boy Scout level, but the one thing that really sticks out at you is how much work parents do to make scouts work. The national organization gives us basically nothing but a curriculum which isn’t always realistic (lots of long talks about citizenship with rowdy 8-year-olds at the end of a school day makes me wonder how many real children were involved in creating it) and access to some wonderful campsite properties – but we pay through the nose for it.

    When I was a kid, all of my cub and scout leaders were parents of at least one of the boys in the troop.  I can’t really imagine why anybody else would put in all that time to work for free on behalf of a bunch of middle-class suburban kids, other than maybe that person’s a saint.

    My least favorite part of the year is fundraising, where we send young boys out to sell insanely high-priced popcorn, of which 1/3 of the sales come back to us and most of that gets paid to our district in dues. When I was a den leader, I was constantly spending money on materials and we all chip in for food on the group campouts – that’s after we sell $400 of popcorn for the privilege.

    We did bottle and can drives for our fundraising.  Municipal recycling programs pretty much killed that revenue stream.

    So the BSA asks a lot of its parent volunteers and gives them not all that much in return…

    What more do you think the BSA should provide to the local troops, and how do you think they should pay for it?  Their financial statements are on the website.

     

    • #27
  28. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    bmboucher (View Comment):

    So, first off, as far as the “politics” side of this goes, I don’t really care. Let in girls, let in transgender kids, scouting is one of the most fun and productive activities I’ve had a chance to get involved in with my kids and I want everyone to get a chance to do it.

    But…. there’s definitely some BSA politics gripes I have on this. I should note I’ve only been involved with Cub Scouts so far and I don’t know how different it is a the Boy Scout level, but the one thing that really sticks out at you is how much work parents do to make scouts work. The national organization gives us basically nothing but a curriculum which isn’t always realistic (lots of long talks about citizenship with rowdy 8-year-olds at the end of a school day makes me wonder how many real children were involved in creating it) and access to some wonderful campsite properties – but we pay through the nose for it. My least favorite part of the year is fundraising, where we send young boys out to sell insanely high-priced popcorn, of which 1/3 of the sales come back to us and most of that gets paid to our district in dues. When I was a den leader, I was constantly spending money on materials and we all chip in for food on the group campouts – that’s after we sell $400 of popcorn for the privilege.

    So the BSA asks a lot of its parent volunteers and gives them not all that much in return; and in that context, extending scouting to girls has some issues. For starters, the reason they did it has nothing to do with politics – participation dropped by like 15% the year before, they needed fresh blood. They made that decision without consulting us parents at all, and since we have to create a new den for any girl that wants to join (and our ~40-60 kid den attracted a grand total of one) that means we have to rope one more parent in to volunteer more of their time when that is already one of the hardest things to do. So the BSA basically said, “we need more scouts, you need to do more with less, no we don’t care how you feel about it”.

    Out of curiosity, what more would you want the BSA to do for your unit?

    • #28
  29. Ed G. Member
    Ed G.
    @EdG

    The biggest question for me: is there a value and purpose to boys-only or girls-only programming? I think the answer is a resounding YES! So why are we messing with one of the few programs around capable of serving that purpose and delivering that value? If girls want better program from the Girl Scouts – then they should make better program for themselves. It’s in the hands of the individual GS troops – just as it’s in the hands of the individual BSA troops – to make of it what they will.

    Is coed programming also valuable? YES! And there is plenty of opportunity for coed programming already starting with school and related activities, church and related activities, followed by venturing and exploring units.

    The problems I have with this move are these:

    1. We already have coed scouting programs that are good and that don’t infringe on the non-coed programs.
    2. I don’t believe that the firewalls between boy troops and girl troops will last long. This is the camel’s nose under the tent.
    3. As it is in the document that Bryan linked: the troops can basically act as one troop complete with shared committee, shared meetings, and shared outings. True, the SM and scout leadership must be different, but all it takes is a few years of units combining those in practice for the form to follow the function. It even makes sense – duplicating and competing troop committees, leadership, and planning are kind of ridiculous for units that want to act like a combined troop. And if units don’t want to act like a combined troop then there;s not much gained by having the girl unit be part of the BSA instead of the GSA.
    • #29
  30. Virtuous Heathen Inactive
    Virtuous Heathen
    @heathen

    Misthiocracy secretly (View Comment):

    When I was a kid, all of my cub and scout leaders were parents of at least one of the boys in the troop. I can’t really imagine why anybody else would put in all that time to work for free on behalf of a bunch of middle-class suburban kids, other than maybe that person’s a saint.

    How many more lawsuits would they open themselves up to, without the leaders being parents? Just a thought.

    What I really want to add here is on the subject of what more can/should the organization provide the charters.

    What other many other organizations do, both for and non profit, is to provide baseline resources–not as an incentive, but to keep doors open.

    Buying into a fast food franchise gets you more than just the business plan & supply access. Many offer management training–or even placement. Quality assurance programs. Renovations and ad campaigns are typically taken on at the corporate level, not individual stores. Some church bodies provide stability in the form of salaries or retirement/medical benefits for the pastor while most other expenses fall to the congregation itself.

    These practices exist to help keep locations open while sales or church attendance is down. Keep the doors open and help them work through the rough patches. You don’t want to close a location because a manager gets a better job. You don’t want bad local management or marketing to damage your brand as a whole. And so, the higher organizations handles those things. 

    I’m not saying scout leaders should be paid. In truth, I don’t have recommendations for what form support might take. But it seems to me the resources could be reorganized with a focus on keeping existing troops “open” with a more permanent structure, rather than living and dying on their own individual activity.

    • #30

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