Friday, October 13, 2017

Scouts and the Scouting Scouters

Eagles.  Eagles everywhere.
Girls have actually been able to do "scouting" for some time now, but as part of the "Venture Scouts" program, not the Cubs or Boy Scouts.

I'm mixed on this. The BSA didn't so much decide to accept girls, as they arrived at the conclusion that they're tired of going to court to defend an archaic system of non-inclusion. That system was partly maintained by the LDS church having the BSA in an armlock, and threatening to take their chunk of boys out if the BSA caved on issues like this and LGBT inclusion. The LDS accounted for about 25% of scout packs and troops because its age-groups align nicely with the Mormon young men's structure. I have little doubt that the BSA council sat down with the LDS leaders and let them know that LGBT (right or wrong—I figure right) was a losing fight, and most likely that inclusion of girls (right or wrong—not sure here) was also a losing fight.

Correlation does not equal causation, so to be fair, the LDS Church stated those things had no bearing on their decision.  They began to exit the BSA in May this year.

Unfortunately, BSA membership has been on a steady decline over the past whatever number of years. Scouting is an involved effort with some pretty hefty time-commitments that don't lend themselves to other interests. With the rise of extracurricular activities like year-round academic and club sports (right or wrong), parents and kids (sorta) see more value in year-long training and competition, than the attainment of merit badges and rank advancement.

So maybe this isn't just the BSA bowing to modern convention on inclusion.  Maybe this is really a last gasp of a dying institution trying to bolster its failing numbers.  The Girl Scouts certainly seem to think so.

I don't really know what to think on this.  Exclusion generally seems wrong.  If a girl wants to join an organization, even one with a defined gender right in their name, I don't see why not.  Women have proven they can handle the toughest requirements in the world.  Why not attain the Eagle scout rank, which the military recognizes as giving recruits certain skill advantages.  The military also recognizes the Girl Scouts Gold Award.

Caveat (though not much): I was a Scout, although I didn't get my Eagle.  I stopped at Life, and will always regret not completing the requirements. My oldest son just became a Webelos and my middle son will join early next year when he turns 8. I see value in Scouting and will promote it with my boys, encourage them to get their Eagle.  I don't have a daughter, so I have no vote on that side.

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