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No women allowed - is this usual?

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"Parents ARE indeed the first and biggest obstacle when dealing with homesickness."


Gee Dug, maybe you should have more fatih in your parents and perhaps have a little more respect for them, many will doubtless amaze you with flashes of maturity.


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We're back.


It was a good. The SM was friendly and made it a positive experience for me and the other women who showed up. This was a great relief. I'd been afraid he was going to make it as miserable a weekend as possible. Seems he's a better man than that. Good for him! That tells me something about his character.


I got a chance to see the program and the men who administer it in action and had many questions answered. Though I still would prefer my boy to be in a troop that welcomed women, I am encouraged he'll learn valuable skills with this troop and it could be a positive experience for him. He certainly came home ready to go again.


For me it was a productive, informative weekend. I watched the boys attend various skills classes. I learned a few new things myself and came away with a greater understanding and appreciation for how the program works.


Some things I found weird. Though most of the camp procedures for leave-no-trace, semi-primitive camping were similar to those my dad (a Korean War Vet) had taught us as children, there were small differences. Most of the boys brought little fuel-powered stoves rather than use the can-and-coal method my father taught his children. Also, with the exception of the SM, who brought only what he could carry in his backpack, the men brought coolers for their food, coffee makers, camp chairs and such. Honestly, the women had packed lighter than most of the adult men.


The most surprising thing was that this troop urinated and defecated all over the woods. Is that the common practice nowadays? Is there new thinking on this practice since I was a kid?


When I was a child, Daddy "marked" the boundaries of our camp when we first arrived, but then we dug a deep hole and hung an "occupied/unoccupied" flag on a tree, throwing in a small shovel full of dirt after each visit. My father would never have tolerated us using the entire woods as a bathroom. He would have considered that disrespectful to other hikers and future campers, since the personal dig-and-bury-system (especially when practiced in the dark or cold or rain or by children) often doesn't get toilet paper and "other things" deep enough to remain undisturbed and prevent eyesores, nose offenses, and human scent that drives away some of the wildlife people come camping hoping to see. That was the thinking back in my childhood anyway. So this was a new experience for me. Twice on walks through the woods I saw my fellow camper's gifts-to-mother-nature. I admit I like the old way better.


Anyway, my son is happy to be among his buddies and I am reassured about the program he's in. Still, there's a lingering sadness about this whole no woman routine.


On the bright side, after we got home from camp and I'd put my feet up, my son came in and told me how glad he was I was there for his first time out with the troop. I was surprised since I'd been so careful about hanging back, staying silent and giving him no help or advice. We hadn't exchanged more than a few sentences the whole campout. When I pointed this out to him he said that was true, but it was still important to him that I was there. That was a lovely moment.


Later when his dad got home from work and asked about his campout, he got the usual "it was fun" and one or two antidotes. Having been there, I realized he was leaving out so much that a parent would want to know, things that I now knew because I was able to be there.


This morning my son woke me up. He had gotten up early and done his own chores, most of my chores (yay!), and made a hot breakfast for the entire family. How cool is that?




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Taking brand new Scouts on a semi-backpacking trip (coolers are not exactly backpacking equipment) as a first campout is not a good idea. Especially as none of the Scouts, old or new, seemed to understand how to properly dispose of human waste.


From the Leave No Trace resources at the BSA National website:


"Human Waste. Proper human waste disposal helps prevent the spread of disease and exposure to others. Catholes 6 to 8 inches deep in humus and 200 feet from water, trails, and campsites are often the easiest and most practical way to dispose of feces."




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Our troop would be is lots of trouble. Our SM is wonderful and just received SM of the Year for our District. But his work schedule makes it where he can't always go camping with us. The last two camporees it was the boys, me, another mother who is CC and the SMs wife who is also an ASM. I can camp with the best of them. And I think that the boys are far beyond needing help goig to the bathroom. I have no problem with control. They respect me and know they won't push my buttons. I personally thing that SMs that ban women are cutting off their noses to spite their faces.



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About the human waste. It is true that the thinking has changed about how to deposit it. As a previous poster stated that a cat hole or where you do #2 should be 6 to 8 inches deep, any deeper and there isn't sufficient baterial activity to break the waste down. There are some situations that is is better to leave it on the surface, the cat hole is pretty much cosmetic and out of consideration of others that may be wandering past your "spot". Waste breaks down faster on the surface.


If there a group camp site and no facilities provided it is recomended that you use several different locations away from each other, concentrated areas of human waste take longer to break down then several smaller deposits. What is fun (not) is when you are in areas that require that you pack out all solid human waste. This is required in high altitudes and some arid climates because there isn't sufficient bacteria to break down the waste.


This is probably much more then you cared to read about the matter.



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Several thoughts:


1. I know a few old Scoutmaster that go by the "no women" rule. Their position is that women by-and-large are too 'motherish' and will not let their boys struggle. They have a tendency to want to step in...and I have to agree that I've seen that. BTW, we have four female ASMs in our Troop.


2. As a member of a District Committee, I have a serious problem with a Scoutmaster that discourages any parent (male or female) from attending any of their son's activities. We will tell our parents to please come and watch, but enjoy the activity from afar (this isn't cub scouts).


3. The Committee Chair isn't your recourse. The Committee Chair and the Scoutmaster are actually on equal footing from a power point-of-view. You need to go to your Unit Commissioner and/or Chartered Organizational Representative for help. If you get no support there, you can take it to the District Commissioner. Don't know how to get a hold of any of those people? Go to the monthly Roundtable meeting. But also, realize that as you escalate this problem, you will be alienating the Scoutmaster. The question is, is he a vendictive so-and-so that will take it out on your son, or will he roll with the flow and grumble about how scouts ain't like it used to be?


Good luck to you.





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The troop that my son belongs to would be in big trouble with out women. Our CC is a woman as is 3 of the committee members. At most of the troop meetings there are more moms helping out than dads. There are at least 5 single moms who jump right in and help including myself. We usually help with the younger boys. Unfortunately, we have only one older boy ( high school age)the SPL- the next oldest boys are the 2 7th graders, one is a Star and the other is almost a Star. So 3 boys with 20 newer scouts. So the parents check in with the SPL and he tells us where we can help.Our troop is boy ran, the PLC meeting is where things are planned and the boys do have a say.

Campouts are open to all adults that want to go. The more adults the more transportation and supervision.But the adult is not to help the patrol that their son is in.This includes the Scoutmaster, the ASM works with his son's patrol.


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Just a minor point. I see the decision to ban certain parents from certain Unit activities as a Unit "policy" (hate the word, but I'm sure you know what I mean). This would, IMHO, clearly fall within the "power" of the Committee and therefore the CC is the person to override the SM in this instance. Of course, there are different kinds of SMs and CCs and Committee, so the local reality is always unique. Actually, it seems to me the CO is truly the place where a decision of this type whould be made.



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I'm well aware that we don't live in a perfect world. But in a perfect world, there is a "pecking order" in a BSA unit. Let me say upfront that I don't have my resources in front of me and I am working from memory. The BSA way of starting a unit goes something like this. An organization says, we want to start a unit. The Institutional Head recruits a Charter Organization Rep. The COR recruits a Committee Chair. The Committee Chair recruits a ScoutMaster. The Committee Chair recruits Committee Members and the Scoutmaster recruits Assistant Scoutmasters from folks they know and from the parents of boys that the SM and ASM recruits to start the troop. It takes three adult leaders and 5 boys to charter a troop. That is how it is supposed to work "by the book". As such, directly within the unit, the SM is accountable to the Committee Chair who recruited them. The SM and CC are somewhat on equal footing as one is in charge of the program and the other is in charge of supporting the program. But in the final analysis, the CC is top dog in the unit itself.


Now in reality, every unit is unique and their experience is totally different from one another. The troop I serve had seven or eight 11 year old boys and an equal number of adults who wanted to begin a troop and had to shop ourselves to organizations to find a charter. We were a package deal and the church and COR took us lock, stock and barrel without having to do any recruiting on their own and have been pretty hands off as a charter. They have set no policy regarding how we operate the unit.

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Beav - you got it about perfect! The only nuance I'd throw in is that the Committee does more than support program - the committee works with the Charter Org to define the program they want to have, and then to support it (through training, resources, etc.). Like you said, the SM and his/her staff are in charge of program.


jd - As I recall, troops cannot establish rules (such as males-only on campouts) at the troop level. But the Charter Organization may establish exclusionary rules such as this one for troops they sponsor.

On the other hand, troops may decide in individual situations when a to keep someone out of a specific activity. I saw this happen a couple of years ago when a parent insisted on participating in a very strenuous high-adventure activity, but was totally unfit physically, emotionally, and mentally. It was a wilderness situation with no easy way to let someone out early. When efforts to disuade the eager leader were unsuccessful, the contingent leader won the support of the SM and CC in banning the adult from the trip. There were threats of lawsuits and it was tough to look the parent in the face and say "you can't come because...". But the banned parent thanked us for preventing what they knew would have been a miserable experience after they learned from son just how tough it had been.


Come to think of it, maybe that's why troops (or COs) establish these rules -- to avoid the pain of working to train and resolve problems or looking people with chronic problems in the eye and giving it to them straight. Not everybody in a catagory is going to have problems, but blanket treatment minimizes hassle.

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"The Charter Org is happy and within its rights within BSA policy to set this requirement."


I think the CO can exclude women from being leaders, but I don't think they can exclude women from attending activities, including campouts. The Guide to Safe Scouting says, "All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders." I could be wrong about this--maybe the unit could exclude both the boy and his mom under such circumstances--but my understanding was that BSA's rules--which all COs must accept--mean that parents can never be excluded. (I would set aside the question of health requirements for high adventure.)


On the issue of whether parents of new scouts should be encouraged or discouraged from coming on the first few campouts. I can see why some might want to discourage them--I have seen some very overprotective parents. But I guess I'm convinced by the argument that it's better to start training them, too. You might want to give each new parent a card with the following words printed on it: "Don't ask me, ask your patrol leader."

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I am very concerned about a troop that does not all and welcome all parents on a campout. You have the right to know what happens on campouts.

I am also concerned about the level of difficulty of a first campout with new scouts. Are they looking to drive all of the new boys off? I am wondering also about the retention in the unit. If they annually only gain one or two boys yet they recruit a dozen, how are they actively promoting Scouting in their town? Many youth would be turned off by this troop and never go and explore another unit. How sad. By fighting this issue you will be doing a lot for Scouting in your community.

This said. There are a few hints of reason here. In our troop we do expect the parents to come to service the entire troop not to be "Bobby's Mom or Dad". You should be expected to pitch a tent if that is what the youth are doing, (if you are willing to haul it you can have a cot too, note that sometimes weather conditions could make this a safety hazard.) You should expect to pitch in where requested and stay out unless asked or their is a safety issue. This is a BOY activity not a family campout, an important distinction to remember.

We ask our new parents to let the new scout go one the first campout without Mom or Dad. That way the boy learns to work with his patrol and not lean on Mom or Dad.

Please contact you District Executive/Director concerning this matter. If you get brushed off go to the Field Director. There are too many danger signs here. Good luck

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