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No women allowed - is this usual?

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My son began as a Tiger and recently recvd his Arrow of Light. The man who led his den was a terrific leader, my son made good friends and had a wonderful experience with Cub Scouts.


When it came time to select a Boy Scout Troop to join, his father and he attended, with his den, the meetings of several troops. Since all but one of the boys in his den went with a single troop, my son insisted on going to that troop as well. My husband was not very happy with that choice, but we allowed him to go with his friends.


My husband's objection to the troop was that he felt they had an anti-woman attitude he didn't want our son to pick up. I didn't take this very seriously at the time. After all, I thought, this is 2005 how anti-woman can they be?


At the first meeting the SM made a very big issue about the fact that they wanted absolutely no women on campouts and would prefer no women attended scout meetings as well. He told a few antedotes about women who had insisted on coming and had quickly stopped when they realized how very sincerely they were not wanted. How that had been communicated to them he didn't say.


I didn't care for that, but my son is soooo happy to be in the troop with his buddies and sooo proud to have been selected Patrol Leader, I told myself just to let it go.


Now it's time to go off on the first campout, a car campout. This troop camps 12-14 times a year.


My husband cannot attend because of his work schedule, but my son says he'd like me to go. So I told the SM I would like to go on the first campout only, just to get an idea of how things go and then I would stay home and let them do their "just the boys" thing. I am now persona non grata.


The single mother of another new scout told him she was going to go just this first time as well. She was planning to camp in her huge SUV rather than pitch a tent. He immediately told everyone they could use the cars to drop their equipment at the camp site, but must then park their cars a very long way from camp and not use them during the campout. When she didn't withdraw at that he announced that everyone must sleep in a tent and on the ground (no cots) and bring nothing into camp they couldn't fit in a back pack. The rules kept coming until the car campout planned by our supposedly boy led troop bore no resemblance to what the boys had planned.


Is this kind of thing common in the Boy Scouts? This SM doesn't even have a male child of his own, but has been leading this troop for almost 20 years because he says he just loves scouting. That seems like a very generous gift of his time, but does it give him the right to be so mean?


I don't know what to do. Easy enough to say I just won't go; my son might prefer to have me along this first time out, but he doesn't really need me; he's been on plenty of camping trips and knows how to pitch a tent, etc. But like my husband I am very disturbed by this anti-woman message that is being sent to my son. I can tough it out and go anyway, but I am concerned his unhappiness with me might be redirected toward my son.


Do I pull my boy away from his friends and look for another troop? Do I back meekly away and let the SM's bullying work? What message does that send to my son? I don't want to break his heart, but I don't want to turn him over to virtual strangers whose leader is causing me to question if he is decent role model for a young boy.


Anyone have any sage advice?

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Part of the "Scouting experience" is working with adults. It isn't working with MALE adults. A couple of our comittee members are women. The boys have to learn to work with them just as they work with the men.


We have women on trips a couple of times a year. I had one on my crew this summer at Philmont. We have never had any problems because of it. I only see advantages.

We have over 40 boys in our troop. Sometimes we wouldn't have enough adults for a trip if we didn't allow women. A couple women I know can out camp and out hike most of the men I know.


The other issue I see with the troop is the way they change the rules. They shouldn't change the rules to discourage someone.


(IMHO) They are hurting both the boys and themselves with this policy.







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I am very sorry to hear about your experience so far.


I wish I could tell you there is a quick and easy solution, but given this SM has been there for 20 years and has been allowed free reign to do what he pleases, I suspect you will be fighting an uphill battle. First, I would ask around with the other moms to see how much support there is from them to enact change. If you are essentially alone and a new adult, it could be a very frustrating fight. Second, the best person to put this SM in his place is the Committee Chair. I would share your concerns with the CC and ask him (I presume he is not a she) if this has been an issue in the past and how he intends to rectify the problem. It sounds like the SM has developed a reputation (and not a good one) that could be detrimental to the future of the troop. If the CC does not realize that, then he should. If the CC is basically the SM's puppet and sees no problem, then your next step would be to go to your scouting professional, your District Executive, to discuss the situation and what he may be able to do to help.


This SM sounds like he has way too much control and I would suspect that other areas of the troop's program could be suffering as a result.


Personally, I would look for another troop. While your son is happy at the moment, this SM sounds like he has the potential for making the family's scouting experience miserable, while teaching your son values that you disagree with. An early move is usually the best move, before your son becomes entrenched in the troop.

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The issue of "No Women Allowed" has been trashed back & forth many, many, many times, both here and elsewhere. Bottom line is that you usually can't change someones stance either way. This SM will NOT change.


The more important issue in your post is the way the SM runs the Troop. What should have been a fun boy run campout was turned into a vindictive one-upmanship fest by this man. That is about as bad as you can get.


Talk to some of the other parents & see what they think of the situation. If there is enough adults who want this man to stop being a demi-god then you might stay and see what you can do. If noone seems to care then I would cut my losses & look for a troop that delivers a good BSA program.


Either way you should also talk to your son & explain to him why you are unhappy with this troop.


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I would follw the reccomendations of SP in a different order - find a new troop first, forget about reporting it to the CM as they must be in it as deep as the SM, and report this SM/troop situation to the district executive. Our troop welcomes all to our camp outs and events, and even actively encourage the "Moms" to attend. We don't get many takers but feel this provides a positive role model for the boys as they are forming their views and opinions of how to treat women.

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I am very sorry for your experience. I would hope this troop represents a small minority of troops. In our area, I am not aware of a single troop in our District that discourages women from participating. There are women Scoutmasters, Asst. Scoutmasters, Committee Members and parents that choose to camp.


Personally I think it is unfortunate that National allows this type of discrimination to continue, but Charter Organizations can choose to not allow women to be leaders if they want to. They cannot keep parents from attending functions. Your SM seems to be aware of the rules and knows how to use them to his advantage, however in doing so he seems to have negated the Boy run aspects of the trip.


I agree with the others, but I would double check with your Chartering organization to see if the policy is really that of the Chartering organiztion and not a personal policy of the Scoutmaster.


Just another suggestion, if you don't want to camp, ask if you can come for the day on Saturday and leave after supper.


However, I personally would be looking for another troop.


From my experience over the last several years the situation you describe is essentially non-existent in our area. I'm sorry your initial scouting experience was not as postivie as it should have been.



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The answer to your first question is no, this is not common in the BSA.


Im not sure how to advise you because what I think you may really be asking is how badly do you want your son to be in Boy Scouts. Yes, you can join another troop, but statistics and odds are that son wont be happy and will quit.


Im curious, ignoring this problem for a moment, how good do you think this program is for your son? Is it the kind of program you want you son to experience?


I think the first step is going on the campout with the other mother. Find out just how bad it really is. I wish your husband could go as well because it would very interesting to see how he treats the two of you together. Then go to the CC and ask him what is the deal.


My problem with the SM is he uses antidotes or experiences to explain his position. Its as if he doesnt have the time, or the ability, to teach moms the program. But in my opinion, if he cant teach a mom about scouting, then just how good is he with the boys. You see, at least 50% of good scoutmastering is working with the adults. If he cant teach you about the scouting methods, what makes him think he can teach your son? I wonder how he can explain himself.


Another thing here is that while we look at the Troop as a program for our sons, it is really a program of families. If this guy doesnt understand that or just ignores it, I wonder where else he has conflicts.


Go on the campout first and learn how bad the problem really is. The answer might be more obvious then. Please keep us abreast on this; I think we all can learn from your experience.




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See, if it were me, I would go on this campout come H*** or high water. Not only that but I would be sure to pitch my tent right in the middle of it all and would sing the loudest at campfire, toast the most marshmellos, and tie the most knots.

Of course I would also invite the COR and the CC to sit at my campfire along with the DE. I would also invite other mothers to join me. I don't take kindly to people treating me that way. I would also schedule a meeting with the CC, SM, Cor, and DE to clear the air. If they don't want lady leaders that is one thing but it would be a cold day in . . . before I would let a bigot take my son camping.


By the way, what area are you in, I feel up to camping.

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WELCOME, Scoutscooter, sorry that one of us has treated you poorly.


There are plenty of good ideas above, so I won't repeat them. Just wanted to add my support and reassure you that the vast majority of Scouters welcome you.


Semper, and everyone else, is right - this SM isn't going to change his spots willingly. Cajuncody is right, also, about a gathering of comrades. I'd find as many other moms, and female Scouters as you can (I'll bet there are bunches locally who would be very willing to teach this SM a lesson), to go camping with you. It's time to draw a line in the sand.


However, such a conflict might not be immediately welcomed by your son, but I'll bet he's still young enough that you're in charge of what he learns, and from whom.


Good Luck -- and if your son struggles with this, bring him round OUR campfire -- this is a great place for Scouts and Scouters to share.



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Last year I just went to the tiger meetings. Helped my son etc. This year I have taken over the program. Long story. I love scouting. Was SO EXCITED to learn that once our son becomes a boy scout I don't have to quit. What fun it will be. Most scouting people are so much fun to be around.


Sorry to hear your troop is so "old fashioned". I would worry about what my son is learning and what the SM is trying to hide. Talk with some of the other moms. Maybe they want their sons in a different troop also and they can all go join another group. Might be they did not know the SM's rules about no women and they might not like it either.


Since you have to have a minimum of 2 deep leadership do the other adults in the troop feel this way? I just don't like the sound of this. Just ain't right.



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I am Male, and a SM, and I would do what Kristi said. Go, take the other Mom and have a great time observing and spending time with Adults. Don't let the old stick in the mud ruin things for your son.


Don't interfere, but be there if your son has a real problem this time out.


Makes ya wonder where these dinosours keep coming from


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We've never had a mother or wife on a camping trip, although we have had girlfriends "show up" but we have no policy that they cant go. We have several women that are important members of the parent committee, mostly handling fund raising and eagle court orginization as well as some merit badge counselors. Last month the question was asked to the Staff and PLs, would you want a woman on a trip and every one of them said they would prefer not to. I just thought that was interesting.


Another point, mostly unrelated: we try to urge parents of new scouts not to go on their sons first 2 trips.

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Just establish that if there's a bowling pin in the latrine doorway (or a rope across it) - there's a woman in there! Take your Lysol wipes.


Have a good time! Our troop has no issue with female scouters - there are three of us who camp regularly out of nine camping adults. Without us, there wouldn't always be enough drivers...



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Reflecting on your e-mail, one thought did occur to me. Male and female scouters are welcome on campouts but anyone, male or female, would have a difficult time camping with our troop if they thought it was appropriate to sleep in their vehicle. Scouters have been known to bring a cot and set it up in the tent, but that would be the extent of any adult favoritism. Also, the folks that camp have all either been to training and are registered adults or are in the process of being trained. So depending on the level of training in your troop, that could be another level of "prejudice" on top of the sexist claptrap.


Not to discourage you, just throwing it out there. Keep in mind, Lord Baden-Powell encouraged mothers to get involved - heard that from our SM last week who was listening to one of BP's tapes. Plan on borrowing that when he's done...


Vicki (getting my beads tomorrow. I do love this Scouting stuff! credit to Barry for that comment.)



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