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Posts posted by bbender

  1. right, that's why I was saying that in a truly "flexible" program, the Den Leader can still have the boys do all the requirements.  It says "at least", it doesn't say "do 1, 2 and one more of the other ones".  ... 


    Ah, and I see what should be in each of the adventures, just to be sure.  


    Statements like "Complete Requirement 1 plus at least two others" to make it clear that doing it all is OK.


    And not statements like "Complete 1–3 and one from 4–6".


    Because it is technically possible that a leader or parent might think "No, we can't do more than one from 4-6!"  So, the language should add there "at least" and it should work for all.


    I know that's the way it should work.  Frankly, I train leaders on this basic rule of thumb adapted from Bill Smith years ago:  


    "If it's fun for kids ... and fun for families ... and safe ... then it's Cub Scouting!"


    It doesn't have to be an item in the Advancement requirements ... 

    • Upvote 1
  2. How is this giving Den Leaders flexibility?  ... a requirement now says "Complete Requirements 1 and 2 plus at least two others" meaning, as DL, I can, based on my assessment of the boys, our available time, where we are in the program vs year, etc, have them do all the requirements.... OR...  Should we be running into time issues, family schedule problems, ect, I can, as DL, shorten down that Adventure to 1, 2 and 4 and call it a day


    I think that the key flexibility is what you describe, allowing a Den Leader to "pare it down" to shorter/fewer sessions, or to allow a Scout who "misses a day" to still earn the Adventure Loop ... for example, the Backyard Jungle Adventure, now "My Tiger Jungle" has a 3 session activity in the Den Leader Guide.  


    The Adventure has five "requirements":  a one foot hike, two birds, plant a tree or something, build a birdhouse, and go for a walk and listen to nature.  


    Old requirement was "do all five".


    New requirement is "Complete Requirement 1 plus at least two others".  


    So, you can do all three sessions of the Den Leader guide, and someone who misses one may still have earned the Adventure Loop, or at least won't have as difficult a "make up at home" task (like building a birdhouse).


    Or as Den Leader, you can say "I can't build a birdhouse so we're not doing that one" or "we're out of time ... we're not going to do the birdhouses", and the kids still earn the Adventure Loop. 


    Now, a point that some can make is ... this gives such an easy button that a Scout could do the one foot hike, two birds, and go for a walk and listen to nature, and not get to do the "hands on / digging in the dirt" elements ... the true "fun stuff".  And now that I've made that point ... yeah, that's too bad.  Better to have to do either birdhouse or plant.  

  3. ... I not only emphasized the changes, but constantly emphasized planning, planning, planning. I knew from reading the changes that planning would be the key. IT IS PLANNING INTENSIVE (emphasis). ... 


    Right on ... and all the more reason to share the planning and "Put All Den Leader Guides Online for Free!"!  If, as the Modifications introduction says, "Some Den Leaders are having difficulty fitting all the Adventures required for advancement into their program year", making it easier to share the Adventure plans and get other Parents, helpers, teachers, Boy Scouts, Troop Leaders, etc. to help deliver the Adventures would reduce difficulty.  Many hands make light work, right?


    And goodness, sharing the Adventure / activity leadership is a good thing, especially in Webelos, which gets more complicated.  Even under the "old" program, there was something called "Activity Badge Counselors" who would specialize (sort of like Merit Badge Counselors).  Giving them "just the one Adventure they need" is just helpful, friendly, courteous and kind, etc.!


    As the Cub Scout writer Bill Smith always noted: "In Cub Scouting, you’re either a den leader or your main job is to help den leaders. There is no other choice."  

  4. Actually, cold weather is not the main impetus for the change. The primary reason is that many chartered organizations do not permit camping for boys as young as cub scouts, and so this gives them a better, more clearly established option for completing the adventure without having to resort to camping with boys they feel are too young. ... 


    Ah ... but that protection was already "baked into" the 2015 requirements.  Because those requirements stated "If your chartered organization does not permit Cub Scout camping, you may substitute a family campout or a daylong outdoor activity with your den or pack."


    And note that the "outdoor activity" was not just "run around outside", but "daylong" ... so a more significant (and more fun) activity.  


    Frankly, even for LDS and other Units that might have this restriction, being there at a camp, seeing the activity, all of that made for great good fun, and preparation for being a Camper ... even if you left when the campfire program ended.

  5. Because I’m curious, having helped with past projects involving Den Meeting plans (for the Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide), and involving the development of these requirements (on the “411 Task Forceâ€), and although I have no role with the National effort here (I’m just a Pack Trainer and Troop Committee Chair and assorted District and Council roles), I downloaded the June 1, 2015 Requirements and these November 30, 2016 versions to see just exactly what the changes really are … and I’ve attached a comparison at our District website, along with the beginning of commentary about the changes.

    See http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3557 for the commentary, and scroll down to find the comparison.

    My essential comment about the change in the camping requirements now is “Packs and Parents are advised to not “hit the easy button†on these new requirements and do the minimum: the main impetus for this non-camping option arises from cold weather locations where it is believed that there is not enough time at the start of the school year to get a camping activity completed before temperatures are too severe. And many in cold climes note that “we have warm clothes, don’t worry about us … we won’t freeze!â€â€

    Further comments to come …

    • Upvote 1
  6. Did anyone else read the nasty comments below the article?  What a bunch of bitter, petty people.  I rarely read that site anymore because of that.  I really feel sorry for Bryan having to entertain those clowns.


    Hope it wasn't my posts there!!


    But, yeah, while there's something about the internet that gets people writing nasty things, there's also something about Scouting that has some (not all, just some) saying things, uh, they care about deeply but sounding really nasty.  


    This reminds me of when my (then) 16 year old son, after a summer working camp staff, told me "you know, Scouting's great and all ... but it does attract a few whack jobs".   Good news: he's going back for his fifth summer next year.

  7. But I feel like we need to either switch to the new requirements or stick with the old ones and shouldn't pick and choose?


    On that, I do think it is OK to pick and choose ... if a Scout comes along and finishes what he missed (or starts now and finishes) using the less difficult requirements, I think it is perfectly fine to credit them for meeting the new 11/30/16 requirements.  


    Even though the ones who completed the 6/1/15 requirements actually did more.  


    That's why these changes are made ... to keep those Scouts, so that they don't get disheartened and walk away ... because we want them to continue.  By coming out with the new 11/30/16 requirements, the BSA is saying it's OK to go that route.


    I also think ... under the long time theory of many in Boy Scouting (where requirements get tweaked all the time) that if you started on an Adventure that got harder with the new 11/30/16 requirements (e.g., any of the family belief / DtG adventures), it's fine to finish out under the existing book and those 6/1/15 requirements.  

  8. And, speaking of that posting of Den Leader Guides at http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3163, I find it interesting that the Blog announcement says "some den leaders had difficulty fitting into their program year all of the adventures required for advancement. This resulted in boys not advancing. After a thoughtful and deliberate review, the BSA has released some modifications to address this concern."


    One way to help deliver adventures and increase advancement is to make the plans for those adventures more available for leaders and parents and others who want to deliver the Cub Scout family program of Den Adventure ... because if more helpers and parents and den chiefs and so on could see the Adventure Plans in the Den Leader Guides, more of them could say "hey ... I can help do that!!".


    More that this page entitled "Put All Den Leader Guides Online + Free!", including the proposal I sent to the Director of the Southern Region after an Area Conference last month.  

  9. I intend on still using the leader guide, just three hole punch the new requirements ahead of that chapter so you remember. The handbooks and leader guides are more of a meeting planning resource than actual requirement book.


    I know that one of my projects will be to further annotate the copies of the Den Leader Guides I'd posted on our District Website at http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3163, where I'd already inserted commentary about Adventures that could be condensed from three to two meetings (or, better yet, weekend day fun activities), and highlighted elements that were "extra".  


    So now I'll probably insert notes and pages with the updated Requirements, and flag meeting activities that focus on elements that are alternates (e.g., you can do this if you're doing requirement  2(a) and not 2(b), but if you're doing 2(b), feel free to skip this!).


    I'll circle back when I've posted those updates ... 

  10. Very very interesting ... need to take a deep dive into this to see what's under the hood.  


    First reaction is on this being sold in the headline as being done to "give den leaders more flexibility".   I'm 100% fired up on the concept and actually got into Den activity writing based on the old fast tracks national pilot being too inflexible (do everything exactly as written in exactly the order listed), and not allowing "all Scouting is local" / "use your resources" options (launch commentary is at http://scouter.com/index.php/topic/17626-a-revised-fun-and-flexible-fast-tracks-outline/, though the links to the alternate plans are down).  


    The old (2011-2015) Den & Pack Meeting Resource Guide text mostly changed that ... highlighting that you could do meeting activities in any order, and noting more options for achievement requirements (e.g., for a sporting activity, there would be a menu of sports options, not just "go bowling"; for a "visit a government servant" activity, there would be a menu of options, not just "visit the policy department").


    I am amused now also because the 2015 revision of advancement and 411 process spent a great deal of time on the concepts of flexibility and choice, and came down on the side of "tell leaders exactly what to do", on the basis of some intuition or research that younger parents needed that explicit directive, and would be confused by choices of what to do as they planned their activity year.  In that 411 process I'd actually advocated several variants of a "modular" program that could be met with alternate achievements to allow for local options and more effective use of local resources, and to support keeping kids on track to earn rank.  


    The ultimate proposal grouped activities (achievements, what are now called adventures) into content areas of "Fitness", "Outdoors", "Citizens", and "Personal Skills", with the idea that there would be fewer "specific required" activities, and more "choose one more from the Fitness area" options to earn the Rank badge.   That way, for example, if there was angst about whether a "fitness" element was difficult to do because it called out doing a fitness carnival that a den or family might struggle to pull off, they could choose among, say, activities centered on any of (a) swimming, (b) biking, © kickball (or any of any number of sports), and (d) other similar options that support the "fitness" concept.  Plus, when (inevitably) a Scout misses that "fitness carnival" day, if the requirement was "do 'fitness carnival' or another 'fitness' adventure", when the den did swimming, biking, etc. later, that gets the Scout back on rank track.  


    Someday ... 

  11. Thanks for the note, Chris.  


    When I do Cub Scout Leader Training, among the signs at the front of the room are "You Have to Do This!" and "You Can't Do That!", and I refer to them repeatedly because very dedicated and experienced leaders with great intentions will tell you one or other or both, and often ... it's wrong.  Safety, sure.  


    In my training focus I pull some ideas that have been around a long time, not just KISMIF (Keep It Simple, Make It Fun), which sometimes get lip service and turns into KICMEH (Keep It Complicated, Make Everything Hard ... oh, that's pronounced "Kick Me!"), and with a new pack or a pack with new leaders or similarly "stretched" packs that don't have a plethora of able engaged leaders ready to "do it all" ... I think we make it too hard. 


    So the key idea, besides KISMIF, that I emphasize is the old adage of a guy named Bill Smith (he wrote a lot in BALOO's Bugle ... google him), and one of his mantras was "If it's fun for kids ... and fun for families ... and safe ... then it's Cub Scouting!"


    That was his alternate way of explaining KISMIF, that getting families together to do something fun as a den or pack ... is Cub Scouting!   It doesn't have to have a badge for it, doesn't need some full lesson plan or meeting plan or adventure plan ... it can just be families doing something together, going somewhere interesting, doing something fun.  


    Your drinking from a fire hose comment is spot on.  New leaders are told "do weekly den meetings", "do monthly pack meetings", "do everything in the guide", "sell popcorn", etc., etc. ... and for a new person asked to be a den leader ... that's a lot to grasp.  Granted, it's easier now than 12 years ago (when I started as a Tiger Den Leader) and was told to look in books and Program Helps and find ideas for Den Meetings there ... you can "rip and run" these Adventure Plans and have better program ... but it is still pretty imposing for a new leader who hasn't had to try to lead 6 to 8 kids before, let alone 16 to 18 or more!


    Loading people up with "the full playbook" is too much.  


    Less is More.  


    That's why I think that stripping it down to the basics is better.


    Do the den method as easy "going places for fun", and the sole job of the Cubmaster or other Pack leader in attendance is to encourage grade level groups to do some of it together, so that kids of the same age get to know each other, and their parents get to know each other, and lead them in the Scout Oath and Law as they start the fun.  


    If they have fun together, and want to do more next time, and want to add belt loops and pins, and rank advancement and skits and songs, and uniforms and other methods of Cub Scouting, they can do that as they get more engaged and "buy into" the program.  They can go get fully trained, go camping, do elaborate Pack Parties (I don't call them Pack Meetings in my training anymore ... it makes people think of it the wrong way), have not just Pinewood Derbies but Raingutter Regattas and Space Derbies and Bike Rodeos and Soap Box Derbies and put on a District Shooting Sports event and all of that ... all of that works better if it builds from enthusiasm.  


    But frankly, if a Cub Scout Den (or Pack) decided "we're just going to be a group of families that go fun places and do fun things, safely, and as we do them we will allow our kids to experience this world, learn some things they ought to know, and teach them to live by the Scout Oath and Law", I think we have provided something valuable.


    And better than if those families just left because the task was too daunting.  


    To use a sports analogy, that stripped down approach is like taking a stranger to football and teaching them how to play.  Which is easier?  Giving them the NE Patriot's Playbook and saying "OK, you need 11 on offense and 11 on defense, backups and special teams, and learn these plays", or "here's a football, let's have a catch".

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  12. I'm a bit late to the party, but I'll join in ... and offer a radical route to getting more parents engaged.  


    Yeah, I've put together as part of a "sustainable" recruiting program lots of ideas about Recruiting Leaders as a key step in that process (see http://www.southfultonscouting.com/node/3144),I also recognize that there is no "silver bullet" and not even a full magazine of "silver bullet" ideas about how to recruit parents to lead Den Meetings will work even most of the time.  Lots of people just fall out and quit.  


    So I've posted this radical idea on a page called "Help! We don't have Den Leaders Yet ... What do we Do?":   if you don't have enough Den Leaders, engaged and ready to go with enough helpers, leading dens of about 8 Scouts of the same age (not more than 10), please do not attempt to have Den Meetings for those Dens!!!! Not until those Dens have enough engaged leaders and helpers for Den Meetings.


    Instead of Den Meeting ...  do Easy Fun Family Activities -- picnics, swim parties, local hikes, fishing, bike riding, field trips, movie nights on the square, bowling night, parades, mini golf -- since those can include some of the other methods of Cub Scouting, including the uniform, the ideals (hey, open and close with a recitation of the Scout Oath and/or Scout Law), and can put families together in den-sized groups to get to know each other and to do the fun activities together.


    So go ahead and “take it easyâ€, and let the collective fun of the kids and families develop relationships organically, they can chat one on one with families, and listen to what they want to do, and maybe drop some ideas.  Like:

    • At some point, a kid will ask “do I get a Cub Scout badge for this?†
    • Even better, a parent will ask “is there a badge for my son for doing this?†
    And then, you've set the hook ... we have a better chance to involve parents if we first let parents take families to fun destination events and participate even very casually in those fun events … and there is a better chance of developing a corps of den leaders and assistants over time, time that they can have even if they just do fun events for months before bearing down to the handbook requirement stuff.
  13. "any chance this "no den camping before Webelos" rule will be changed or abolished under the new program?" === > Well, I can confirm that specific proposals were made at least two times, once when the new Cub Scout Advancement program ("now with more camping!") was being put together, and once in the spring of 2015 as the new program was about to come online.  There may have been more.


    The proposal I saw (which I'm happy to share) basically tracked the existing Pack Overnighter exactly ("Pack Overnighter" to "Pack or Den Overnighter"), with exactly the same requirements (like BALOO).   


    From the 2015 proposal (which received positive reviews from a then advisor to the Cub Scout program but was then turned down by Health and Safety):


    Some Reasons For Allowing Den Camping

    ·        If the same safety rules apply (training, plan, site selection, leadership, etc.), then safety is covered, consistent with BSA requirements.

    ·        A den campout would arguably be safer, since the ratio of BALOO trained leaders to scouts and families would be stronger than in some pack campouts. 

    ·        Some packs are the size of a single den, or may be comprised of a single den, and their camping experience under the same safety rules as pack overnighters is fine.

    ·        Some packs are enormous, and the logistics of pack camping make the experience less appealing to families and scouts, or less available because of the work involved for the numbers attending.

    ·        Den camping under the same safety rules as pack overnighters can occur in more locations than are available to large packs. 

    ·        This will increase the number of BALOO trained leaders available to support pack camping.

    ·        Currently, Cub Scouts may participate in family camping that involves Cub Scouting program elements, but only if they don’t camp with another family.  Limiting the den experience in that way seems to conflict with the importance of the den as a method of Cub Scouting.

    ·        This will bring “into the fold†dens whose families “go camping as a group (but not as Cub Scouts)â€.

    ·        For those leaders who don’t go “go camping as a group (but not as Cub Scouts)†because they don’t want to be seen as a Cub Scout leader at an unsanctioned event, this would bring him or her “into the fold†and allow camping under the same safety rules as pack overnighters.

    ·        Would increase overall camping by Cub Scouts, under the same safety rules as pack overnighters.

  14. On "has this been tested to make sure that the objectives can be completed in a typical 1 hour Den Meeting?", no, not exactly in this exact form to my knowledge, except that these draw from the Tiger and Wolf Den Leader Guides themselves which we believe have been tested.  


    Of course, YMMV (your mileage may vary) and All Scouting is Local, and so one Den's timing for an activity or element might be pretty short and others could run longer ... and, uh, kids and stuff, knuckle-headery, yeah, that can affect adventure timing.  


    I did try to toss "extra" elements of the source den meetings that are not on the critical path to completing the adventure, while keeping enough fun.   So some parts like that were dropped, while the "parallel" adventure requirements are noted, which would be an addition.

  15. Now, now ... there was an update on all of this late last week ... here's the "Press Release"



    Irving, Texas
    April 1, 2016


    As recently announced on the Scouting.org website (at http://www.scouting.org/ >> Boy Scouts of America >> Fun Things Boy Scouts Do >> Wow That Does Look Fun >> Scouting Safely >> WDBPD (What Did Baden Powell Do) >> MDTFTR (Multi-Discipline Task Force Tertiary Review) >> Health and Safety Alerts >> Position on Knockerballâ„¢, BubbleBall, Battle Ballâ„¢, Zorbing, and Similar Orb Activities), the next online revision to the Guide to Safe Scouting will add orb activities as unauthorized activity.


    As noted in that page, in recent years, we have seen an upswing in the use of orbs for everything from rolling down hills, across water, “playing†soccer or football, and outright battles. They were included as an activity at the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference after a hazard analysis was conducted but where participants uniformly turned a thumbs down on what otherwise looked like fun level, saying it bombed (it was “da bomb†was a common complaint), and was widely perceived as illegal and inappropriate (several players referred to it as “dope†right after exiting the orb).  Others commented on the out of shape nature of the activity, referring to it as “phatâ€(sp).


    But the BSA has heard the feedback of volunteers and received the report of another multidiscipline task force that has determined that some air-encased plastic bubble protective devices are authorized and will become mandatory for Scouting activities starting with the World Scout Jamboree in 2019.  These devices, available today through ScoutStuff.org, are called BSA BubbleClassB and provide an exciting, appealing and safe exterior shell casing for active Scouts. 


    Made of tough natural plastics with a certain amount of flexibility, the BSA BubbleClassB will provide Scouts with a sleek and fairly flexible solution to emergency preparedness solutions for many dangerous situations like falling down -- all without the excess bulk of dangerous orbs.   Google bubble wrapped boys and select images to see the incredible pictures of acquiescent users of BSA BubbleClassB prototypes.  In keeping with the BSA commitment to technological innovation, each BSA BubbleClassB will have a capacity for parents to access location data in real time through Garmin GPS tracking technology.   And as a further advance in safety, the outer shell of the BSA BubbleClassB will have dipole magnet technology that will act to keep wearers of BSA BubbleClassB from bouncing off each other.


    Please help us communicate this to all participants in Scouting as part of our commitment to their safety.


    In addition, the next online revision to the Guide to Safe Scouting will add this as unauthorized activity:


    20. The use of sharp hooks, barbed or barbless, while fishing, fly fishing, frog gigging, whale harpooning or similar activities. 


    A multidiscipline task force comprised of program, marketing, development, legal, risk management, and health and safety professionals and volunteers has evaluated the risks of their use, reviewed their accident history and concluded:


    Ouch!  That’s sharp!  And people swing those around in the air?  Someone could lose an eye!  


    For more information, do not google fish hook accidents. 


    And the Bass Pro Shops sponsorship of the Bass Pro Shops Toolkit has ended its five year funding term.  The BSA thanks Bass Pro Shops for all their support over the term.


    About the Boy Scouts of America


    The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life.®†The Scouting organization is composed of nearly 2.4 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org



    • Upvote 1
  16. I think there's no right answer ... all Scouting is Local.


    Keeping the old gang together might work ... if the new gang has decent leader resources.  


    Doing a new mix of new and old might be better, depending on the kids and parents.


    When I had 8 Tigers turn into 16 Wolves in 2005, we actually did a full mix, in order to (1) split up some friends who, uh, probably needed some "separate from each other time", and (2) split up the leader resources so that there would be a good mix of leaders and assistants, and the "new" leader would have a bit more "assistant" help.


    We've had other dens grow to double the size where the "new guys" had a good set of potential leaders and did just fine with little mixing.

  17. Some ideas on delivery of the new program are posted here:




    Given the greater "outdoor" emphasis and "hands on" approach, and the continued (and increasing) challenge of finding den leaders, a good bit of the commentary is to lure parents to see how they can work together to deliver the program in an easier and fun way ... since some potential volunteers fear the time investment.  There's lots of fun ways through the program that don't require classroom work ...  

  18. All factors apply (friends, neighborhood, day to meet), and the concept of "doing things together" when that makes sense or is fun (field trips, feats of skill day, special guests) -- or at least sharing notes between dens about how and when you're doing things -- are all great ideas.


    One other element that may or may not need some Cubmaster / Committee Chair guidance is whether the split den is starting out with a relatively equal amount of strong leadership . . . sometimes there needs to be a bit of encouragement to ensure that you don't split into one den with all of the uber-volunteers and one without.

  19. On the question of “does anyone know why the LDS was not included on the survey results? Did they voluntarily decide to sit out, and are they (as some are saying) waiting to vote with their feet if the - what do we call it?â€Â, this is a great big mystery.


    I believe I read over the weekend (while camping in the forests, field and streams) that LDS leadership told their Chartered Orgs not to respond to the poll, that they would take care of it at the highest level.


    And that until there was a concrete resolution, there would be no official comment from the top of the LDS about what the LDS Wards, Stakes and units would do.


    On the one hand, perhaps that vote will come in entirely against the Resolution. It is noted that some polls of LDS leaders and/or the results from Councils and Regions that are heavily LDS are in favor of the current policy.


    But on the other hand, it is noted that this Resolution was approved unanimously by the Executive Committee of the BSA, and that there are a significant number of LDS members of the Executive Committee.


    But on the other other hand (under the DRP, we have to have many other other hands, like the Hindu Vedic Supreme God Vishnu), perhaps the unanimous vote to approve the Resolution that will go to the 1400 voters for final determination is similar to a “cloture†vote in the United States Senate, where the Senate might unanimously approve the debating of a bill (brining the bill to the floor) and/or the closing of debate (eliminating any filibuster and allowing and “up or down voteâ€Â) . . . and then all go out and defeat the bill . . .


    . . . it all remains to be seen . . .


    That said, given what you might call the “love the sinner†signals from the LDS church recently (the [url=http://www.mormonsandgays.org]http://www.mormonsandgays.org[/url=http://www.mormonsandgays.org] site that launched last winter, for example), the concept of not shunning LDS youth who declare themselves to be homosexual – not shunning them either from the church or the church youth program – makes a lot of sense.


    I suspect that exclusion would be (and is) rare. I suspect that many conservative chartered organizations might want to retain a youth in order that their selected leaders may impart all of the virtues that they believe will be imparted by membership in the organization, since I suspect most would say “we want youth to participate . . . we just don’t want them to have ‘that kind’ of role modelâ€Â. Or, as it is sometimes said: if homosexuality is a moral choice, then belonging to an organization that fosters good moral choices is the best result for that youth.




  20. ... Part Two ...


    Citizenship Issues: This policy involves a choice relating to citizenship. To follow the vision of the BSA, we may consider how best to “prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leaderâ€. While the BSA has the constitutional right of association and, under Dale, may be allowed to exclude members or leaders with a homosexual orientation, the existence of a “constitutional†right does not make an association “right†in all meanings of that word. Or make it wrong. It may be a matter of difference of opinion, including deeply held and serious religious opinion, and there is a strong argument that we must respect those differences of opinion.


    Does the application of the right of private association by exclusion teach the best lesson about how to deal with our fellow citizens? Does it provide the best example of how we in the United States will address with those who are different, in this case, with the difference of sexual orientation? Yes, I believe that the choice of inclusion or exclusion is a grave one for teaching citizenship. I believe that we are better off with a policy that reflects what a responsible, participating citizen and leader will deal with: a citizenry that includes those with both orientations, one that reflects our country and its citizens. The message we send in exclusion is not reflective of our citizenship values: we do not banish those with a homosexual orientation. And elements of the current policy create significant conflicts (e.g., you agree to be trustworthy and can be a member and have a homosexual orientation, so long as you never reveal it; or you know of a brother Scout’s revelation and wonder whether you must report it because you must be loyal, but loyal to who – and yet you must be kind, as in “he treats others as he wants to be treatedâ€).


    But beyond the citizen question there is the moral question, and the fact that many believe that this orientation is not moral, and should be excluded, while others disagree. Given this, it is fair that neither policy at the end of the spectrum be forced on all:

    -- neither absolute exclusion from all units,

    -- nor absolute inclusion into all units.


    And the current proposal would not force any unit to against their values in accepting members. The right of chartered organizations to decide their membership policy on this issue allows freedom of association and avoids the consequences of exclusion. It reflects that there can be a place for those with a homosexual orientation in the organization that attempts to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader.



    Now, some suggest that this leaves chartered organizations open to attack, and that they will be hampered in their ability to defend themselves absent the resources of the BSA or the shield of the policy. Some believe that attacks will force many to abandon Scouting. I think this is at odds with the strength of religious conviction and resolve. Their policy of denial of membership to members or leaders with a homosexual orientation is certainly consistent with how the chartered organization operates otherwise. If they deny the priesthood or other leadership roles to those with a homosexual orientation, they are well acquainted with the risks of complaint or protest or attack, and have the resolve to uphold their beliefs. For example, some units have restricted membership and leadership from women, members of other faiths, perhaps based on other aspects as well, and they do so firm in their convictions and successfully. That resolve would not change now.


    With the liberty granted to chartered organizations, I believe units on the opposite poles on this issue can remain united by the same Vision and Mission and Aims and Oath and Law, as we all “prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Lawâ€.

  21. First, what a great organization and tradition and set of ideals we have here in the Boy Scouts of America that cause so many to care so much to do the right thing to help the youth of America so much. Yes, each of us may disagree about what the right thing is – and there is much disagreement, and will be, and for some time. But I believe that even those on the opposite poles on this issue are united by the same Vision and Mission and Aims and Oath and Law.


    Second, I think that what unites us, and will unite us, and will keep the BSA at the forefront of youth development programs are the Vision and Mission and Aims and Oath and Law. What a great service we would do if we realize the Vision and “prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Lawâ€.


    Third, as I listened to 1 Corinthians 13:13 this morning about love, I hear it in a church where half of the clergy and staff and a significant portion of the parishioners are gay. And there is not unanimity about whether that is right or wrong, but there is unanimity in our aspirations to do the good things of the prayers and readings. I see this as parallel to the lack of unanimity among us about whether admitting open or avowed homosexuals is right or wrong, but the complete unanimity in our aspirations to do the good things of the Vision, Mission, Aims, Oath and Law.


    But there in the vision, we find the issue . . . the concept of “eligible youthâ€. What should the organization decide about which youth are eligible? Should youth who have or develop a same sex orientation and are avowed or open about it be ineligible to participate in our program of preparing to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader?


    Two Polar Opposite Beliefs Today (and What The BSA Says About Different Beliefs). On the one hand, many people, and many religions (and chartered organizations), believe that those with an avowed or open homosexual orientation should be excluded. They believe that such an avowed or open orientation is so completely contrary to the values of Scouting that exclusion from membership is the only appropriate result. (While it is not on the table as far as I know, it is possible the standard of being an “open or avowed homosexual†is seen by some as not sufficiently vigilant and protective of the BSA or the chartered organization’s other programs, and that some stronger standard might be more appropriate – I note this just to note that opinions may differ from person to person, chartered org to chartered org).


    In any event, given what is known about the human condition, I am not fit to judge whether that opinion is right for you or your religion. If a person or a religion believes that having an avowed or open homosexual orientation is so contrary that membership must be excluded, it is not for me to judge your belief or your religion’s belief. I respect both.


    And Scouting tells me I must respect your religion’s belief.


    “The activities of the members of the Boy Scouts of America shall be carried on under conditions which show respect to the convictions of others in matters of custom and religion, as required by the twelfth point of the Scout Law, reading, ‘Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.’â€


    Also, “The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.â€


    I may disagree with your beliefs. But I must respect them.


    On the other hand, if your convictions in matters of custom and religion are aligned with a religion that does not condemn a homosexual orientation, if it is a religion that permits those with homosexual orientation to be leaders and clergy, then too, I may disagree with your beliefs, but I must respect them.


    Unless there is to be a change in the other direction, the BSA will not establish one religion’s application of morality as the BSA standard of morality. The BSA “is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious trainingâ€. This may be decried as moral relativism, and as a Scout I respect that right to make that critique and hold that belief. As a citizen I will defend your right to speak out against it, even if I disagree with it.


    But as a citizen, I also recognize that we will have among us citizens who have a homosexual orientation. How many, it does not matter. There will be some. They are citizens of our country too. Ideally, they will become responsible, participating citizens and leaders. Some may find the avowed or open orientation, or acting on it, to be reprehensible, a sin, unacceptable, immoral, abnormal or otherwise, but they are still our fellow citizens.


    Respect of Beliefs. This proposed change does not force any Scouting unit to accept members or leaders with a homosexual orientation, open, avowed or otherwise. If it is against their principles and beliefs, Scouting will not force them to act against those principles and beliefs. Those chartered organizations, such as a church that believes that homosexual orientation is contrary to their teachings or beliefs, will want to continue to exclude members or leaders with a homosexual orientation. They would continue as they do now in the rest of their church life: they will not be forced to accept members or leaders with a homosexual orientation.


    This proposed change also would no longer force any Scouting unit to exclude members or leaders with a homosexual orientation. If exclusion is against their principles and beliefs, Scouting will not force them to act against those principles and beliefs. Those chartered organizations, such as a church that believes that homosexual orientation is not contrary to their teachings or beliefs, will want to be allowed to include members or leaders with a homosexual orientation. Now, they too, would be allowed to operate as they do in the rest of their church life: they will not be forced to exclude members or leaders with a homosexual orientation.


    Just as we may associate with a church whose applications of principles and beliefs are aligned with our own, so too we would be able to associate with units whose applications of principles and beliefs are aligned with our own. Frankly, we may already do this now with our units, schools, or neighborhoods. For example, if one does not one one’s children taught by teachers with a homosexual orientation, one will seek out a private school in line with those values. But in any event, we will encounter our fellow citizens as we engage in our lives, and we will encounter those of all orientations as we attend public events, vote, serve in the military, and live our lives in this country. We will encounter them when we take our Scouting units into the world. Even our Scouting units that permit no members or leaders with an open or avowed homosexual orientation will encounter them when they go into the world.




  22. As noted in the other thread, I think that a Church CO that would exclude gay leaders is already doing it throughout their programs, and can deal with any flack coming from that choice.


    To expand on that, and the concept of protests and picketing and press post-decision (if the change arrives next week), I suspect that the story really won't make the paper. It's a "dog bites man" story, re-written as "no gay leaders in the [pick your church] that has no gay priests". Not news.


    And if written by a journalist, they'd ask: "help me out here: why didn't you pick a church and troop in line with your own beliefs?" ;^) (yeah, yeah, maybe there is only one unit in town . . . )


  23. The plight of the little existing Church CO and whether the BSA will defend them keeps popping up on other boards too. I dont see much problem here.


    To echo and supplement a point made by OGE and others, a Chartered Organization applying its own principles or beliefs in denying membership or leadership would be applying principles or beliefs they already apply in other parts of Chartered Organization operation. Given this, one would assume that they are firmly convicted enough in that to hold fast to their principles and beliefs.


    For example, plenty of churches allow no gay priests, or gay coaches of sports teams, or gay teachers in Sunday school. They almost certainly know how to deal with this and any protests, press, complaints or suits. One way or another they make clear their organizations principles and beliefs, and those who join or consider joining can exercise their right of association: if that church is too non-inclusive for them in terms of priests, coaches and teachers, there is probably a more inclusive church nearby.


    We can all associate in a church whose applications of principles and beliefs are aligned with our own.


    So, yeah, those churches would probably apply that to Scout leaders too and not approve gay Scout leaders. Actually, continue to apply it, as they are now.


    And I suspect those churches would not abandon their programs of liturgy and pastoral care because of demands of gay potential priests, or abandon athletic teams because of complaints of gay potential coaches, or stop Sunday School because of gripes of gay potential teachers. Likewise, if Scouting fits with their youth programs, I suspect theyll not abandon Scouting because of claims or lawsuits of gay potential leaders or members. (Plus, the BSA did them a solid favor in the Dale case, which allows association in this fashion.)


    Yeah, the BSA issue -- since it has been a hot button issue -- may attract more complaints, protests or even lawsuits (certain to fail on account of Dale) just because there is more press about that today than there is about sports or Sunday school or (in some, but not all, faiths) gay priests. And, as noted, the 1st Amendment limits government redress here for a complaining party against a church, so between that and Dale, lawsuits are not likely.


    And compared to the current universal ban, the plight of a Scout or Leader banned from a less inclusive church unit will not seem as dire. If that churchs Scout unit is too non-inclusive for them, there is probably a more inclusive church and Scout unit nearby. Last I checked, the transfer fee on an application was a buck.


    Just like picking a church, we can all associate in a Scouting unit whose applications of principles and beliefs are aligned with our own.


  24. First time / long time (First time poster on "this part" of the Forum / Long Time Reader)




    First, huge thanks for these Forums.


    So many of the ideas that have helped so many of the leaders who help so many of the kids who will help so many in the world for so many years to come . . . have come from those who gather round this internet campfire, this forum that you have fostered.


    And so many of the ideas that I and others have carried forward have, I am sure, come from so many of our fellow leaders who may well differ on the issue of moment -- the membership policy -- but not the issue of all time -- following the Mission of the BSA (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) and the Vision of the BSA (to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law).


    We may be divided on the issue of membership, but we are united on the goal of the program.


    Second, what a powerful posting on Forbes. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for persevering and maintaining www.Scouter.com while you felt this strongly.


    Third, I was away from the program when you left official registration, but I admit that with family, friends, co-workers, co-parishioners and religious leaders who have different orientations, I had to reconcile the conflict when I was called to return to help young people through Scouting . . . and I am, as you, hopeful that we have reached a fair and respectful resolution. Individuals and chartered organizations may differ in this membership policy, but I think we don't differ in the Vision, Aims and Mission, or the value of the Scout Oath and Law. My thoughts on the current choice -- and the freedom of association presented by the proposed change -- have been posted for my Pack for years, now on a page at http://atlanta631.mypack.us/node/2053. I share in hopes that this helps towards understanding and perspective in this.


    Yours in Scouting . . . Bert Bender, Various Roles.



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