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Posts posted by ParkMan

  1. 40 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Every single one of these are between a) the scout and their parent b) the scout and their religious leader c) both. The checkoff/approval is by the parent or the religious leader (OR for the religious awards, a mentor/instructor approved by that faith/denomination).

    This however allows a Lutheran MBC to instruct and sign off on the Catholic scout and his/her's views on inclusive as they relate to gender identity and sexual orientation. And if the Lutheran thinks the Catholic Church's teachings on women priests and and sexual orientation are stupid? No sign off.

    Putting aside that these conversations should be happening parent to scout (or parent to religious leader), many religious denominations provide that only those ordained or under the supervision of someone ordained my offer moral instruction.

    A Scout has say in who the merit badge counselor is.  It's no different.  They could work with their parents to choose a MBC that they want.  There's no difference here at all.  Pick a MBC that is of a like pursuasion.


    44 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    This is BEYOND driving a wedge between the scout and parent, this is now a wedge between the scout and their religion.

    When is enough, enough?

    It's not tough.  No one is telling the Scout what they have to believe - just that they need to think trough how they relate to someone.  In fact it's a very good skill for someone to have to learn how to relate to someone that has a lifestyle the disagree with religiously.

    There's no wedge here at all.

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  2. 7 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    I'm not really sure you are being serious.

    If so, why bother with the MB?



    I am being serious.  This is the crux of my point.

    A lot of people seems worried about political indoctrination here but are missing the clear parallel with the religious aspect of the program.   In both places, the BSA wants to get kids thinking and talking about how they conduct themselves.  In the religious setting, they want kids to think about how the demonstrate their duty to god.  In the area of diversity, equality, and inclusion the BSA wants to get kids thinking about how they conduct themselves and in act in a country where different races, genders, sexual preferences, and gender identities are the norm. 

    It's not about pushing an answer - it's about getting the kids to think about these topics.

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  3. 9 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    And Duty to God is one of the Ideals of Scouting. 

    Ideals – The ideals of Scouting are spelled out in the Scout Oath, the Scout Law, the Scout motto, and the Scout slogan. The Scout measures themselves against these ideals and continually tries to improve. The goals are high, and, as they reach for them, they have some control over what and who they become.

    BSA has not changed the ideals.  This Merit Badge attempts to.  And, since earning the MB is not required of Scouts anyway, unless they wish to attain Eagle Scout, I'm more interested in the rank requirements they are talking about, which haven't been released yet.

    How does this MB change the ideal of Scouting?  The Scout Law includes: Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Cheerful, and Brave.  The Oath contains: "help other people at all times"

    These all have some bearing how on we should approach the topic of diversity, equality, and inclusion.  I see nothing in this MB that does anything other than get kids to think about the world they live in with using the framework of the Scout Oath & Law.

  4. 6 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    Yes, but there are no wrong answers to these questions.  A Scout and her parents define her duty to God, and you cannot contradict her in any way.

    And to someone who doesn't want their kid discussing religion it's no different.

    The DE&I requirements don't state what the answer is, it states the questions to asks and topics to consider.  A Scout can define the answers however they want to.  How is that any different?


  5. 1 hour ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    Asked and answered?

    What I believe I keep reading is lots of concern that someone might have a discussion with kids that has a political aspect to it.  I'm fine to agree to disagree in the ability of people to not get too political in a Scouting context.  But, even if someone were to get political with your kids - what is the primary concern?

  6. 3 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

    No, we don't.  Scouting simply recognizes awards sponsored by various faiths.

    But there is:

    • In the Webelos level there is a Duty to God adventure.
    • At the Bear level there is a Fellowship and Duty to God adventure
    • At the Wolf level there is a Duty to God Footsteps adventure
    • At the Tiger level there is Tiger Circles: Duty to Good 
    • At the Arrow of Light level there is Arrow of Light Adventure: Duty to God in Action
    • It's well known that at Eagle Boards candidates often are asked how they demonstrate their Duty to God.  Further, they are required to submit a letter of recommendation from a faith leader or parent that supports that.


  7. Thank you for the very well thought out reply.  This is useful.

    34 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    I'm following you here.  From what I read here, you are more concerned with kids hearing about the politics surrounding diversity, equality, and inclusion.  Two honest questions:

    1. Is it fair for me to infer that you are not concerned with discussions about inclusion and equality itself?

    2. Why does your child engaging in a 2-4 hour discussion about these issues concern you?  

    39 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    MBs are defined as adults providing their expertise to the scout.  It's inherent in this being a MB.

    If we frame the merit badge correctly, then it should not be a session to teach political ideologies.  It should, instead, be a vehicle for kids to learn more about the world and explore their own thoughts. 

    There are other examples of this in Scouting such as the religious components.  In Scouting we have requirements and award relating to religion.  Scouting is very clear to not push a particular religion, but instead to advocate for the idea that youth should be thinking of their own beliefs in God.  This seems to have a parallel.

    43 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    My issue is our youth get this 24/7/365.  During the school day.  During Sunday school.  In their music and entertainment.  From their families.  ...  A badge in this will be a joke to the scouts.  

    This seems to me to be the best reason not to do it.  It also seems to be why it doesn't deserve the level of angst it is getting.  If kids are hearing about this everywhere else, why not have a discussion in a Scouting context too?  Is something said with few sessions with a MB counselor really going to have a bigger impact than what they hear in school, in church, on YouTube, etc...?

  8. 6 minutes ago, tnmule20 said:

    No one can teach this MB without injecting their own biases (major, minor, micro, or whatever the new buzzword is, conscious or unconscious, perceived good or perceived bad) into the instruction.  Therefore you are influencing on very sensitive matters, and that is why I say it is up to the Parent or Guardian.

    It does make we wonder though - what are the sensitive issues that people fear in the space of diversity, equality, and inclusion?

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  9. 21 hours ago, MattR said:

    This country is tearing itself apart because most people can't talk about anything without jumping into personal insults. As for this MB, I don't like it because A) it's just school work and B) there are people here that are very much against it, so it won't work anyway. At the same time, a good friend of mine is black and there's some truth to a lot of what the black community is talking about. I don't think this MB will help but at the same time just saying follow the scout oath and law won't suffice either. I'm not sure what the answer is. But when a video comes along with the title along the lines of "what the left won't accept" I know it's not going to help move things forward.

    Thank you for the thoughts on this. 

    My primary complaint with this merit badge is that it is simply scope creep.  I simply don't agree with the continued movement that thinks Scouting needs to be all things to all people.  But, that's a discussion for another topic.

    In this recent round of national debate on the topic, my kids who came to me and asked why I was not more concerned about discrimination.  Based on that, I took a step back and listened more intently.  I was struck not by listening to the fiery speeches, but I was struck by the quiet stories of people who still felt discriminated against today.  Those quiet stories impacted me.

    I don't know the right answer politically either.  Yet, regardless of my politics I don't see a harm in letting kids listen to the stories out there and forming their own opinions.  Whether it's race, gender, orientation, preferenance, or something else I am ready for my teens to listen and form their own opinions.

    I still think this MB can help.  In my mind every conversation helps a youth to enrich their own views of the world.

    To me the challenge is what we see represented in this topic.  Our already polarized country leads people to have a need to be involved in this discussion.  I fear that people will simply not be able to let youth explore this on their own.  It's like the political version of "adult led".  This topic is simply one that adults think that they need to protect, guide, shelter youth on this subject.  Here I simply disagree.

  10. 17 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    Thank you. 

    It's my view of scouting is different.  I've always seen scouting as something different that our youth need.  Knives.  Fire.  Outside in the rain.  Getting the scouts out doing things.  It's why I like the MBs that require activity. 

    I could not agree more that this is where Scouting should focus with the youth.  Very well said!

  11. 23 minutes ago, fred8033 said:

    Yeah.  Over the top.  My apologies.  

    Sorry - that's not what I meant.  This is a great place for working through our thoughts and I really did appreciate all your thoughts and energy on this.

    I just don't know that I have much more to add to this topic.  To me, this is a merit badge that while not perfect and certainly boring, can have some redeeming value if we let it.  Yet, I don't feel so strongly on it that it's right of me to advocate too much for a particular approach here beyond what I mentioned before.

  12. 4 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:


    How about this for the new DE&I MB requirements?

    1.  Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes.

    2.  Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

    The End

    I could go for that...but I think those are already encapsulated in the Scout Oath and Law.

    And the only angst I sense here is yours.

    Physician, heal thyself!



    Hey @InquisitiveScouter - Sorry I missed this earlier.  Didn't mean to offend.

    It just felt to me like you an @CynicalScouter were getting pretty worked up over having this merit badge and the political implications of it.  i.e. - discussions of opting out of the MB because of laws the prevent sex education.  Sounds like I mis-read it.  My mistake.

    I just think that we should look at this merit badge as an opportunity for youth to consider how they relate to each other.  We live in a country today that's becoming increasingly polarized - often because of political beliefs.  This MB can be a very small way to help break down some of those barriers during the Scouting years.  That doesn't seem to awful to me.

    Again - didn't mean to offend here.  My regrets for doing so.


  13. @Jameson76 Thanks for the thoughts.

    Perhaps I live in a Pollyanna world, but I just think this merit badge would work better if we just let the Scouts think through these questions without the implicit or explicit sharing of personal politics of the adult leaders.  

    Kids of today, especially those in their mid teens are very aware of current events.  With the explosion of social media, kids today are living these issues in their daily lives. 

    I have every confidence that if we adults step back and let these kids discuss these issues without adults interjecting our politics they'll do a great job.  They may or may not arrive at the same conclusions I have personally and that's OK.  But, I have no doubt that they will do an outstanding job discussing them without me interjecting my own beliefs.   To me it's sort of like "youth led" in Scouting.  We try to let the youth have their own space to make their own leadership decisions.  I just think we ought to do the same here.

  14. 3 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Careful please. Don't mistake my views vs. those of others.

    As I said, I believe as a MBC I could work with this MB. I can also very much see/know/observe in the Reddit and Facebook groups and even here that there's a HUGE pushback growing and an anticipation that people are NOT going to just embrace the change and move forward (as for example they did when Cooking became Eagle required).

    Given that it is adults who are going be parents, SMs, and MBCs, and that it is adults who are creating this merit badge, asking adults to keep their hands off this merit badge is literally impossible.


    This STARTED with an agenda. The entire REASON we have this as a merit badge in general and an Eagle required in particular started with an agenda. Now you can argue if this was a good agenda or a bad one. You can argue what the "real" agenda is (or isn't). But this did not just spring forth from the ground ex nihilo. Every part of this has been agenda laden.

    To now say let's not have adults and their agendas is again, impossible.


    I choose to look at things like this and ask "what's the best way for youth to take advantage of this?"  Given how polarized our country is today, I think a merit badge focused on getting kids to think about how they relate to others isn't such an awful idea.  

    It's fine for us to agree to disagree.   I do think folks get where I'm coming from here.  I don't see that I have anything else constructive to add.

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  15. @CynicalScouter & @InquisitiveScouter - I think you two need ratchet down the angst a few orders of magnitude here.  When I read these requirements, this sounds to like two pretty commonly accepted principles:

    • Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes
    • Love Thy Neighbour as Thyself

    If the adults can keep their hands off this merit badge and let a youth do as the merit badge says, it's allows the youth to go through a thought exercise in how they relate to others.  Are they welcoming of others, how do they treat others, do they unknowingly act in a discriminatory way, are they doing what they can to treat their fellow citizens with respect? 

    It doesn't matter if your white, brown, black, or purple.  It doesn't matter who you love or are attracted to.  It doesn't matter what you think of your own gender and sexuality.  It's about how you treat each other.  It's about how you react to situations where discrimination happens around you.  It's about how you react when someone you know tells you they feel discriminated against.

    I have every bit of confidence that youth, when put these sorts of questions - can reason them out in a way that is pretty consistent with the Scout oath and law.  

    This all starts to get messy when the adults show up and start pushing agendas.  This is why the adults should leave this in the real of how youth relate to each other just as the requirements describe.

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  16. 35 minutes ago, CynicalScouter said:

    It was conceived in a very polarizing, political time our nation.

    It was announced amid BSA issuing two (arguably) very political statements from BSA that black lives matter (vs. Black Lives Matter the movement/organization).

    The mere USE and acknowledgment of these terms ("gender identity"; "equity"; "institutional racism"; "Systemic racism") is to many a political statement that these things exist. There's at least 10-30% of Americans who do not think these things exist at all and, given the lower-case c conservative nature of those who participate in BSA I suspect that number is higher in BSA among leaders and parents.

    You want to not put this in terms of politics? That's impossible given how permeated the merit badge is with political terms.


    Yes - because the minute a Scoutmaster announces the merit badge as:

    3 hours ago, Jameson76 said:

     Just indoctrination

    Then it prejudices the content. 

    I am fine discussing that this is a topic that involves some politics, but let's leave our own personal politics out of this.  We do not need a Scoutmaster in that 10-30% who doesn't believe that discrimination exists injecting their own personal beliefs.  Let's make this about listening to others.  Let the Scouts recognize that whether they think discrimination exists of only part of the conversation.  Equally important is whether people perceive that they are being discriminated against.  Let the kids get the maximum benefit from the learning experience without adding in our own personal beliefs on the topic.

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  17. 20 hours ago, yknot said:

    You are always positive ParkMan. Thanks for kind words. If I thought I could make a difference at the local level I would stay. I'll still be kicking around here though. I can't help myself.  

    Thank you.  I've had lots of good Scouters who I have worked with that encouraged me to stay positive as much as possible.

    As a long time district volunteer, I think you can have a far bigger impact locally than you may realize.  My .02 - find yourself a commissioner role.  That's a great way to share your passion for building a better program for kids.  It's a great way to serve as a coach, mentor, and role model to other Scouters.  

  18. 1 hour ago, yknot said:

    I would respond that I leave scouting as a volunteer as of 12/31/20 because I don't have a way to answer those questions. An organization that has so many good people in it can't be evil but I have lost faith in its ability to manage itself and prevent more crises in the future.  


    Respectfully - I think you're wrong to quit. 

    There are no guarantees of success in anything we do.  All we can do as people is look at the options that are out there and make the best choices possible.  Kids needs people like you to bring the program to life.  I'd encourage you not to get caught up in the hyperbole that Scouting is run by awful, evil people - it is not.

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  19. 13 minutes ago, yknot said:

    I think it's OK for scouters to feel that way but I think we ignore the broader public perception at peril. People who are older tend to have better views of scouting and some connection to it. Younger people do not. BSA, or whatever survives bankruptcy, has a huge PR question ahead of it that can't be ignored. 

    I guess I'd answer that two ways.

    1. For your average unit Scouter, what would you have them do?  They are trying to build a local program, trying to have enough kids in the program so that their own kids can have others to Scout alongside.  But, I don't think we should encourage local unit Scouters to hold their heads in shame because they want to run a Cub Scout pack or a Scouts BSA troop.

    2. Yep - at the higher levels where you are dealing in public opinion of course they need to have a campaign to market Scouting to a new generation and especially as we come out of this dark period in the BSAs history.

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  20. 2 hours ago, CynicalScouter said:

    Exactly. At this point Boy Scouts is synonymous with intolerance and an anachronistic view of the world.

    You're buying in too much to the hyperbole.  

    The BSA is not the evil organization that some make it out to be.  Yes, it had a dark period.  Yes, it has and continues to make shortsighted decisions in the belief that is has to chase members.  But, the BSA of today isn't as bad as the press would make it seem. 

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  21. 3 hours ago, David CO said:

    BSA is not a winning team.   BSA is bankrupt.  BSA is in the midst of a horrific sex scandal.  Calling BSA the best youth program in the country is not only incorrect, it's delusional.

    At this point in time, talking up scouting in this manner looks a lot like a slap in the face to all of the victims of sex abuse.   It tells them we don't get it.  It might even tell them that the only solution is to end BSA.


    I understand what you are saying.

    It's possible to believe in the core concepts of the program and think that those concepts are good.  For those who really believe in those concepts it's not a stretch at all to call those concepts the best.  Ideas based around developing youth, helping them to experience the world, to learn about the outdoors, do develop confidence in their actions. These are all good, noble pursuits.

    It's also possible for that same person to look at the entity known as the BSA and recognize that it has made numerous, colossal mistakes.  Of course we look at the BSA and see the utter failure in how they've handled the youth abuse issues in our past.  I agree that it is difficult to look at the BSA and consider the non-profit that runs it as the best in the country.

    We've got a contradiction here.  Myself, I'm able to look at these two different aspects and believe in the Scouting program as defined by the BSA and in parallel work to improve the actions of the entity that is the BSA.  Though the BSA had made reprehensible decisions in the past and makes many decisions today that I wouldn't make, I don't think the BSA of today is awful.  The BSA of today is an middle of the road non-profit that is struggling under enormous pressures.  On the whole it's full of well meaning people who are trying to make the right choices.  

    I suspect that in reality most of us are doing the same thing I am - looking at the program and believing in it.  I don't think we'd all be here if we didn't.  I can advocate for the program because I know the program is sound.  Others cannot and that's fine for them. 

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  22. My gut tells me that this is an intractable argument.  Is Scouting the best youth activity or not.  Somehow I think that there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you spend on Scouting and your belief in the strength of the program.  I do find that lots of people talk up Scouting.  That's a good thing too and is very healthy at the unit level too.  Most people want to be on a "winning" team.

    I would encourage people to believe in the core program, but also be willing to recognize problems and try to solve them head on.  There's nothing wrong at all to recognize the weaknesses in our units, councils, etc.  Recognizing those lets you focus on solving them.

    Yet, just as it's important to not be blinded by your admiration for the program, so too do we need to be careful not to always find the negative in what we do.  Scouting is a great program.  Most of our volunteers and professionals are quality people doing their best.  Our councils are generally trying their best as well to do the right things.  Let's not get paralyzed by the overly positive or the overly negative perspectives.

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