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Posts posted by kadiera

  1. I'm really surprised that the materials aren't available as audio files - there are lots of reasons someone might be better off listening to them than reading them.


    It seems to me that, other than the fact that Eagle projects can't benefit BSA, getting all (or even a portion) of these available on tape would make a great Eagle project...are there other opportunities for large-scale service projects that might find this a good target?


  2. "How does a "Wiccan" profess belief in Wicca and not the God/Goddess or the dual aspect of divinity?"


    Not that I really want to get into this discussion, but there are quite a few Wiccans who believe that the Gods are archetypes - basically, that they only exist as symbols, not as actual beings separate from our own imaginations - and as such they represent the ideals we should strive towards. Not my thing, but I've seen people do it and it seems to work out ok for them.




    As far as atheist families in scouting...if you look through many of the threads here about all the benefits that kids get from scouting, it ought to be pretty obvious why people would want their kids involved, regardless of their religion (or lack thereof). The question for families then becomes whether the religious aspects are something they can live with.


    The number of places where religion sort of spills over into daily life is not at all obvious unless you're standing outside that religious paradigm. Generally speaking, most Americans who fall outside of mainstream Christianity are used to the surprising number of places where those mainstream religious values and expectations crop up in daily life (often in places where they are not at all necessary), and we either ignore them and participate anyway, or go live in a cave somewhere without interacting with anyone. Neither option is terribly appealing, but most people shoot for ignoring most of the items that come up, because it's about the only way to get along most days.

  3. On the question of whether there's a point where malicious over-reporting is stopped...


    ...a good friend of ours has two children from a previous marriage. The situation is seriously disfunctional.


    The father admits that he made several reports to children's services - and that he convinced his parents to make reports too. There were three investigations in three years. No issues were found in any of the investigations.


    After the third case, the case worker stated that she was flagging their file, such that only reports from teachers, doctors, police, and other state mandated reporters would be investigated. They also told the father that if he filed another report, he would be prosecuted for filing a false police report.


    So...there's at least some protections for this sort of thing in some states.

  4. I'm with Beavah and the common sense approach, and I do wish the G2SS had a little more willingness to defer to good judgement.


    In my experience, most of these things are written the way they are because there are a ton of people who mistakenly believe that they possess enough common sense to make good judgements.


    I know that I re-wrote a lot of things for SpiralScouts in ways that eliminated judgement calls based on experiences where people used poor judgement in a situation repeatedly, even after discussion and coaching.


    For example, the leader on one of our first camping trips who said to a 6-year-old, "Johnny, please put the burning stick down, you know you're not supposed to play in the fire, we talked about that yesterday. No, Johnny, don't throw the burning stick into that pile of leaves...." We'd coached this leader on fire safety and managing it with smaller kids the previous day when she and the other parent supervising an activity allowed half a dozen younger children to poke sticks in the fire, get good coals on the end, and then chase each other with them, saying that it was all in good fun. *sigh*

  5. GoldWinger, I keep telling you, you'd be surprised at some of the people in SpiralScouts. I don't ask the political affiliations of my fellow leaders (and generally avoided the question myself when I was the ...um... lucky... (yeah, that's the word) person responsible for most of the organizations operations. Among the adults behind the scenes, there are doctors, lawyers, engineers....and even a politician :-)


    Kudu's right though - I've seen several cease and desist letters, not just the one that went to SpiralScouts. And I've seen replies from several lawyers, who have each taken a different path to responding. Thus far, though, since SpiralScouts never did receive a response to the letter our lawyer sent back, I'm really not sure what to think.

  6. Interesting discussion here.


    This is actually one of the reasons SpiralScouts avoids the whole concept of "advancement" - as it's set up within Boy Scouts, "making rank" is too often the goal, rather than learning the things that make up that rank. Not that the idea of advancement is bad, just that it sometimes encourages *adults* to forget that this is supposed to be about learning things through fun, and that causes us to make it not seem like fun to them, you know?


    In my experience, telling young people that they're learning to safely build and maintain a fire so they can use it to cook dinner (or, more important to many of them, just so they can say they're allowed to tend the fire, which means they're allowed to *play* with fire) makes it much more interesting than, "do this so you can get this badge," or "you need this award to earn X rank."


    Not that we don't have some who are very motivated by badges - one scout from my troop who recently moved out of state completed all his FireFly level badges in the 2 years before he aged out into SpiralScouts and a whole new set of badges, because he didn't want to *miss* anything. His new scout leader tells me a year later he's well on his way to completing all those badges long before he ages out to be a PathFinder. But he's doing it because it's fun, not because his parents are pushing him.

  7. Kudu -


    I suspect this is not *quite* what you're looking for, but the closest we have to a statement of methods is probabaly http://test.spiralscouts.org/node/2 (this is from a nearly completed major revision of the site).


    I know that at least one or two badges are supposed to be on the site as examples, although they aren't there yet.


    SpiralScouts has a somewhat different take on advancement. Advancement is seen as something that comes with experience - so rather than having requirements for various "ranks" (which we don't have), SpiralScouts offers the same "topic" for a badge or other award at each of the three program levels, which is progressively more in-depth. If a SpiralScout wants to earn a badge he didn't earn as a FireFly, he completes the FireFly required activities, then the SpiralScout requirements, then some number of the optional activities. As a scout "spirals" from FireFlies to SpiralScouts to PathFinders, they look at each topic from a different perspective.


    So, for example (a very simple example - not all of them work out so cleanly), a FireFly learns some simple knots and basic terminology for their badge. A SpiralScout investigates other types of knots, learns to tie some number of them, and teaches another scout at least one of the basic knots. A PathFinder learns still more knots, and then teaches both the original basic ones and some of the more complex ones to other scouts. In the troop I co-lead, this has worked out to a PathFinder who knew knots fairly well demonstrating his knowledge to a leader and offering to teach the knot badge to the other members of the troop - some group work, and then individual practice at subsequent meetings.

  8. <i>In the meantime, I'd like to ask Kadiera to tell us more about SpiralScouts. For example, I'm curious about the nature of the program for your older members (SpiralScouts and Pathfinders). Is this an outdoor/camping oriented program, similar to what people likely think of when they think of Boy Scouts? I'm also curious about membership. About how many members do you think you have? And while I notice that your website says that members of all different faiths are welcome, I'm curious to know whether that includes atheists (which is, sorry to say, often the context Spiral Scouts are brought up in on this board). </i>


    Working somewhat backwards:


    I specifically know of one atheist family involved in SpiralScouts - but since we generally don't ask people about their religion, there might be more. Given the number of troops that are officially or unofficially tied to UU churches, I'd bet on there being some percentage of secular humanist families involved.


    I suspect that atheists would not be comfortable in all of our troops; we encourage local units to make decisions about their program that are appropriate to their membership, so when it comes to religion, some take a more secular approach, some take a "expose the group to each other's beliefs" approach, and some take a very specific religious approach.


    Last spring, we had about 500 scouts; I know there are more now given some of the things that have come up in recent board meetings.


    In theory, the program was intended to be an outdoors program at all levels. In practice (as with many things in SpiralScouts), the program has taken on a life of its own, due to some interesting dynamics that I don't think anyone could have predicted.


    First, most of our troops only meet twice a month - because a lot of them have members who drive an hour or more one way to attend. It makes camping every month a challenge, but a lot of troops have taken an alternating meeting and outing (camping/hiking/museum/field trip) approach.


    Second, most of our troops are multi-age troops that span more than one age division, and we average about 10 kids per troop. There's a handful of "lone scout" type troops, and a couple of troops with 20-30 kids, but the mid range is pretty typical. So a lot of troops operate more on the scale of a single patrol troop, even if that patrol involves kids from age 5-15.


    Third, we stress from the very earliest ages that the troop does what the kids decide to do. For the youngest scouts, that may mean that older scouts and/or adults create a list to choose from, but all the kids work out what things the troop will do.


    If that means the kids don't want to go camping, they don't. I know of one troop that had 4 older girls who decided that they were using their year to create a new award. They planned out activities to learn about their subject, created activities appropriate for the younger kids in their troop to learn the subject, tested the activities on the others in the troop, modified what didn't work, and planned a "capstone" trip to Chicago (including fundraising to cover expenses) to visit several museums related to the award. The girls went camping once that year, which was the state-wide multi-troop anual campout. One of the parents later told me she suspected the award was a cover for just wanting to spend a weekend in Chicago, but that if the girls did the work, they did the work, and the trip was their reward.


    Last is the overall age dynamic we deal with. Between half and 2/3 our scouts are in the youngest age group (FireFlies, ages 3-8). More than half of the remaining are SpiralScouts (ages 9-12). That leaves a very small number of PathFinders. Further, we're only now getting to the point that some of the first FireFlies and SpiralScouts are becomming PathFinders.


    In reading this board, it seems to me that you don't get many boys who come into BSA at 13/14/15 and stick with the program very long. There are other things taking their time, and they don't have the personal history of being in scouts. Most Boy Scout troops are full of kids who started as Cubs and worked their way up.


    I expect that as time passes, that problem will solve itself to some extent.


    The other thing we run into on that front is the number of teens who *want* to be in SpiralScouts because of its Pagan roots, whose parents are not so keen on the idea for the same reasons - and I suspect that's a problem that Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts rarely have in the US. :-)

  9. Slouchhat:


    The thing to keep in mind about "America" on the whole is that we're very good at taking the easy way out (whether because we're lazy, or over worked, or just because it doesn't make the neighbors think you're crazy).


    Or, more to Lisabob's original point:


    Let's say you have a son of Cub Scout age, and you don't agree with the BSA's current stances. Your options are to put him in Cub Scouts, where most of his friends are and where there are already leaders and resources in place, OR to join some other organization, which in all likelihood means starting a brand new troop, since most of the other options out there aren't as widely spread.


    Not joining BSA takes a ton of extra work. Justifying that extra work means you *really* need to have strong objections to some of the things they do. If you only sort of disagree, but don't see that it might impact you personally, joining BSA is by far the most easy route for you and your child.

  10. Gold Winger asks about Pagan beliefs.


    "Pagan" is a fairly broad term (and how Pagan things drive SpiralScouts is something I'm working on making more clear on the new version of the SpiralScouts website).


    The slightly less broad view taken by the founders of SpiralScouts would be more accurately labeled as "neo-Pagan" - a wide array of modern interpretations of pre-Christian beliefs, usually polytheistic - either in the sense of many gods, or in the sense of many faces of a single god, or the sense of duo-theistic (e.g., God and Goddess).


    There is generally (though not always) a sense of the divine in nature, ranging from nature is divine to the gods as natural processes (ie, Poseidon is the God of the Sea, Thor is the God of Thunder, and so on), and other variations on the same theme. A fairly high percentage of neo-Pagans are strongly ecologically minded, feel a strong connection to nature and the outdoors, and so on and so forth.


    So I'm sure you're thinking, ok, how does that affect SpiralScouts?


    Well, for starters, the duo-theistic view held by our founders drives the program to be co-ed, and to encourage co-ed leadership (which was initially a hard requirement, but this has been softened somewhat).


    Badges are grouped into five categories - the five elements (earth, air, water, fire, and spirit) which are a metaphor for how the world works.


    Because there are so many variations within the neo-Pagan community, local units are encouraged to find ways to work out diversity issues locally - how much or how little religion is involved is up to them, and most cases where there are references to religion, they're in optional activities for badges or other awards.


    Membership is open to any child with parental permission. Adult membership has the caveat that leaders and some other volunteers must pass background checks.

  11. Ed, obviously you think BSA is better, or else you wouldn't be involved.


    However, I think Lisabob's original statement was that it didn't seem to her that SpiralScouts was a viable alternative, and I'm just pointing out that what makes a group a reasonable option still all depends on one's viewpoint - I don't think BSA is a reasonable option for my family, and thus I'm not a member.


    If there was an existing organization that came reasonably close to meeting the needs of my family, I would have taken the easy road, and joined something that was less work from the beginning. This starting from scratch thing is nuts (which is a large part of the reason so many SpiralScouts troops fail in the first year - no paid staff to answer questions and walk them through things and so on and so forth, and we're always having to explain who we are because we're not that well known).


    Lisabob, I'm sure it *is* a dodge for most people to say, "like it or leave it." It means they avoid any discussions that might make them uncomfortable.


    GoldWinger - it's not as easy as you'd think. I've been told that the first SpiralScouts troop to approach a BSA camp about renting space was told that the BSA didn't rent to "their kind of people." I know that in Michigan, state parks limit group camping areas to no more than 1 adult per 4 kids, so family camping is right out (and for most of our 6 years, our troop has mostly been FireFlies, ages 3-8 - there's no way I'm doing anything other than family camping with that age group).


    I've had several paid BSA staff members (including at least 2 DE's) offer to help in whatever way they could, as long as their bosses didn't find out - they were afraid that if their religion got out, they'd lose their jobs.


    But I also think most of you would be surprised by what you found in most SpiralScouts troops. We are surprisingly like most other youth programs when it comes to the day-to-day workings of most troops. I mean, seriously....it's not like this is Harry Potter or something, you know? :-)


    At any rate, I certainly learn a lot reading messages on here.

  12. Long-time reader, first time poster :-)


    As someone who's been involved in SpiralScouts for a while (and who wasn't a girl scout because the troops were all full in our area), let me put this out there:


    I read a lot on these forums about the difficulties in finding leaders - and it seems like a large percentage of BSA leaders were former scouts. Most alternative programs don't have that sort of alumni support. In fact, a huge percentage of SpiralScouts leaders weren't ever scouts, but think that "scouting" is something important for their kids...important enough to find a program that they can agree with, rather than ignoring their opinions of the politics of a group, and rather than risking their children being made fun of for their beliefs.


    I read a lot about camps and programs that require infrastructure. Most alternative programs don't have those sorts of resources, unless they can find them locally.


    I read a lot about "the way things were back when I was a scout." Most alternative programs don't have that kind of history (or baggage, depending on what the topic is).


    I read a lot of complaints about fundraising and paid staff - most alternative programs would love to be able to provide that kind of support to their members.


    But it's an uphill battle - without 100 years of public good will, raising money for land and facilities and staff is next to impossible (shoot, raising enough money to take the kids on a camping trip is tough). Training leaders without the history behind what you're doing is tough. Getting in on programs offered at science centers and parks that are designed for cub scouts and brownies when you're neither is a losing battle. *Finding* camping areas that will let you do family camping with a bunch of small children and their parents is a challenge.


    Most of you should count your blessings every day for having a program you believe in that has the resources it does, rather than complain about rents going up or not being able to have a school district charter you. You've got so many things in place that benefit the kids you work with that often seem to be taken for granted.



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