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Pros/Cons of Women/Girls in Boy Scouting

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Just for the record. Baltimore Area Council has at least 5 women paid professionals on staff. And they are NOT cashiers!!!!! They hold Exectutive positions and I am very proud of all of them. I would also bet that there are more of them employed than I know about.


Probably why our program is so successful and some others are not! (past posts noted that I was lambasted for) But facts are facts, and bullsh*t walks as propaganda.



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I recieve a private post today that I would like to publicly respond to. Perhaps after this respons we can drop the accusations from all around & return to the original question that I posted.


The person who wrote me (did not sign the email) stated that opinions had been made of me because people don't know me at this site. This may be true, or from what I'm seeing on this site & private emails I have been receiving, there are some who just like playing devil's advocate to just about anything. In any case, I submit to you a brief history of my relationship with Scouting and children, as well as a clarification in my thesis. I will refuse to respond to any other negative posts, as I choose not to involve myself in negativity. While I may strive on stress, I don't like being around negative energies.


I am married with 3 children, 2 boys and a young daughter. I have been a volunteer in our public schools for 12 years. I've taught art in the classrooms, as well as music. I am now responsible for working with my daughter's class newspaper, teaching the kids about being journalists, etc.


I started Cub Scouts apx 9 years ago as a Tiger Cub Coach to my middle child. I moved up the ranks with my middle son, as well as supporting my oldest son's interest in Scouting. After a couple of years in cub Scouting, I was asked to become our District Roundtable for Cubs. I have held that position for almost 7 years. When my oldest son joined a Boy Scout Troop, I became an ASM. There were 60 boys in the troop & organization was absent, so we moved to a smaller troop. The Scoutmaster (untrained) of our new troop became frustrated with the boys and left. I took over as Scoutmaster and have retained that position for the past 4 years. I have taken our small troop of 3, to a very managable size of 16. We are a rural troop that has no "feeder" pack, and rely soley on word of mouth for recruitment.


I have retained and still retain the following positions in Scouting of Tiger Cub Coach, Den Leader, Advancement Chairman, Webelos Leader, ASM, SM, Chartered Rep, District Cub Trainer, Staff on BALT, and sit on our District Events committee. I am in the process starting a new Venturing unit for Sea Scouts. Completed Woodbadge 4 years ago, and am the only Beaver in my district and have completed all levels of training that Scouting has to offer (minus the completion of my thesis). Finally, I am a member of the Order of the Arrow.


My thesis was assigned to us as a 20 page, double spaced paper dealing with ANY subject I saw fit. NOTHING was mentioned as to what the content had to be. When I suggested what I might write about, it was approved, but was told it would never be published in any papers. We all laughed and that was the end of it.


I have no agenda or an axe to grind. I am a believer in private enterprise, and as such I believe it is the BSA's right to decide it's membership. Do I wish girls were allowed it? Heck yeah! It's a great program! The Girl Scouting program here is terrible! I would love my 8 year old daughter to bennefit the same ways my boys have. But I absolutely respect the fact that it's the BSA's right to say she can't join. Of course this doesn't stop her from coming to our meetings, nor does it stop her from leading flag ceremonies or telling all of her friends she's a boy scout.


My sole purpose for writing my thesis on this subject was because I felt I was in a unique position of seeing both sides of this arguement. Obviously it is a timely subject, as well as a very volitale one. My hope was that I could write a paper that wouldn't change any minds, merely open them to the other person's view point. I wanted them to walk away from the paper saying, "ya know, I never thought about it that way before". That's it, period. No hidden agenda, no axe to grind, nothing. Just sharing the other viewpoint in a manner in which people could understand. Help close the gap of missunderstandings. The original question was very innocent. I still, after re-reading the post, do not see any hidden message that would indicate I had ulterior motives. The original post still stands. If you have an opinion on the subject, I would love to hear it. If not, that's fine, but please take the accusations and insinuations to a different posting. This post was created so that I could collect some, not all, of the information needed for my paper.


I've had a mixture of emails, and those of you who gave me your opinion, pro or con, I thank you. Those of you who are looking to intice a reaction out of me, too bad. I let me guard down before, I won't sink to that level again. I appoligize to those I may have offended, but if you re-read the posts, I never said that anybody was disgusting or embarrassing, I said that I was no longer embarrassed, but disgusted by what was going on.



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In our area between Denver and Colorado we have about 6 troops. All of the troops that I have been to, except the LDS group, have fair representation by women. We have 70+ boys and about 25 registered adults: a District commisioner, Advancement Chair, Treasurer, Community service coordinator, Secretary, and two of our ASMs are women. Several other women are registered but are just committe members. They are all involved and come regularly. The SM and Committee chair have never said, when a position came open and a women voluteered to take it, "ANYBODY else interested". The SM, a slightly old fashioned gentleman Eagle would prefer other men, but is gracious and never says so. I pick it up from his tone a bit. We don't have any overbearing men or women (well maybe one, but he means well. Just came out of the military and is baffled by how any other group functions at all). We have several women in OA, and most have had lots of training, several woodbadge too. Two of the women camp regularly, but they either have only one child or 3 boys involved and no other children, so this is their only child's/children's activity and they want to be involved. I have 3 girls and only one boy. I work with him on plotting a course for rank and MBs but generally don't camp. I have done training and camped a few times but as a Girl Scout leader with 2 troops I do all my camping with my girl troops. My boy has a somewhat uninvolved dad (work takes precidence over kids activities) and so I leave him to camp with the troop. That way he gets a guy experience with boys and other involved dads. He needs some activities with just guys (purely my personal opinion). When we do skills work with scouts we have lots of help. Some older scouts help and some adults. One gal, a master gardener, does plant identification. I work knots sometimes. I have always been treated fairly and equally by the men in our troop.


Girl scouting is a bit less uniform in many ways because each troop is as small as a patrol and so the variety of activities depends on a small number of girls and 2 leaders. Also USGSA is addressing the needs of girls in a slightly less than equal world. Their stress has become diversity, tolerance, career push, technology push. They also have a strong focus on improved self-esteem and drug,cigarette,alcohol abuse and pressures. It seems a little bit to be directed to support inner city a bit more. Still there are 4 areas of interest available to girls: Camping/outdoor adventure, Service(huge in USGSA), Badgework (no ranks), and Leadership (very big as Senior Scouts).


Girls are only involved in the Venture level with Venturing Crews. As I understand it, it is losely connected with Boy Scouts but is not part of Boy Scouts. Depending on the girls involved (also the boys) it works well. If the girl is inept at leadership or organization then the crew will flounder. This will happen if there is an inept boy in leadership too.


If your girl has not found a troop that she likes in Girl Scouts it is not because the Organization is flawed but it may be that the troops in your area have girls and/or leaders that are choosing activities that don't interest her. My troop camps a lot. I would challenge any First class to beat my 5th graders at knots and we cover all of the same materials....plant identification, REAL outdoor cooking, first aid, hiking etc. We do tons of service and cover skills type badges as well as some of the more touchy/feely ones. Any program is what the people in the area make it. Our Boy Scout troop is great. My Girl Scout troops are great. We go rock climbing the end of the month. Hooray for Scouting.

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I hope I am not too late getting an answer for your thesis. For girls, I wish they had the same program too, because from what I hear from girls I know, Girl Scouts doesn't offer the same program. I know they could have it, it just doesn't happen. We have some Venture crews that are co-ed and very successful. One of them was featured in Boy's Life. I would like to think that girls wouldn't hang back, but reseach isn't giving me much hope in that area. So maybe having separate programs in the younger years is better. Not that an good leader can be either male or female, for either girls or boys, if they are trained. (Does my being a trainer show?)

On women, well, here I am, and have been for fifteen years. I don't think there has ever been a better program for kids, and I want to do everything I can to keep it that way. I have two sons, and started with being assistant den leader with the oldest...he's now 23 and my youngest is 19. I read the thread about having women on campouts, and finally had to ask some of the boys in my troop, and all I got was a blank stare. Diego said, "Why wouldn't you come?" When I explained about the post, he was really puzzled. I guess it's because I am who I am, and what I do.Not that I am super Scout, just me. My being female hasn't been an issue with the boys. Any objections have come from adult male leaders, not the boys.

I have always gone on campouts, and to summer camp. I am not going on the campout next weekend, and that is unusual. I will tell you that I have been the only woman in my troop for the five years I have been in this troop. Not one of the moms has had any real interest. But we have dads that don't do anything either.

I think my answer is if you have a person who is willing, gets trained, wants to be part of the program, and SHOWS UP, take them.

Gender is such a small part of what it takes to be a good leader. That's what I consider myself to be-a leader. Not a mom, or a girl, Just like the men, we have to put that aside, and do our job. It's only an issue when someone else makes it one, not to me.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Where do I begin?


KoreanScouter: How dare you even type the question asking whether aluminum dutch ovens compare to cast iron dutch ovens! Blasphemy!! May our founders ears be shielded. :)


Jerry: Nice profile, really informative.


Acco40: Are you in the same class as Annalisa? You could co-write a paper on women's and racial issues in BSA simultaneously. What kind of really interesting things would we find out, in your opinion?


Now no pros and cons, but here's an opinion:


There is no need for girls in Boy Scouts because they have Girl Scouts. Go there and make IT better. I've heard how boring it is from my wife who was in it as a youth, and wished she could have done some neat Boy Scout stuff. Well, go in there a fix it!

Women in BSA as volunteers or paid is great IMHO, because the women leaders I'm associated with help to instill good traditional values into the boys according to BSA objectives. Maybe this sounds sexist, but they have a positive influence on the boys that seems sometimes unique to female leaders. Call me crazy, but I believe men and women are different (no I didn't read the Time article).


Many people are trying to teardown the BSA, not because they want to join...but because they hate its values. It's natural to be suspicious of topics like Annalisa's, and she should have expected it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Annalisa, welcome to the forums. You experienced the same thing I did when I first ventured a post. Posting here is like getting old, "it ain't for sissy's!" :)


But stay with it. Eventually you'll see that most of these guys really love scouting but sometimes get a bit defensive.


As for your topic, I'd love to add a line or two if its not too late.


I'm a Scoutmaster. I'm with my second troop in that job (had a troop 15 years ago in another council).


I have two female ASM's and 6 male ASM's. I have taken the Troop camping with just me and one of the female's (twice now) and everything goes swimmingly. I have also had two women attend summercamp last year as ASM's for the entire camp week. That also went very well. Finally, my committee chair is female.


My daughter is a Venturer, and she joined because she was not getting challenged, nor allowed to do challenging stuff in Girl Scouts. Although she did get her Gold Award. (The boys are wrong when they tell girls to stay in GSA and "fix it", its busted beyond fixing, but that's another thread.) And a girl (just like a boy) should be able to have fun and do Scouting without spending her time worried about politics and being Don Quixote!


I think the wording of your topic may be to blame for some of the responses, and the off-topic problems. The Topic: "The Pros and Cons of Women and Girls in the Boy Scouts of America" suggests an issue over whether females are allowed in the Boy Scouts. That has been settled. Some time ago I posted a quote from the 1972 issue of Scouting magazine that announced the national board's decision to allow women to become scoutmasters. Before that they could be every job except SM, and it took a few lawsuits to change National's Mind.


Moreover, females have been allowed in Explorers since I was a boy (early 60's at least), and in Venturing since it was resurrected. So there really is no debate over letting females in, unless you want to start one on kicking them out. :)


However, if the topic was meant to discuss what you have experienced, which is that females are not treated the same as boys and men most of the time, then there is certainly fodder for writing. In my experience, most women do not feel welcome on camping trips with the Boy Scouts. I have certainly tried to make everyone welcome, but there are problems.


First, is the gender issue. Many women just don't feel comfortable camping. My wife is one who enjoyed camping with me and my Troop when we were first married (about 22 years ago), but later in life she decided to leave it to me and my son and daughter, except for family trips.


Second, the gender issue runs head long into facilities. The summercamp we recently attended had flush toilets and indoor modern showers for female leaders. That helps a lot. Its one thing to be out with the guys, its another to be in the rickity (sp?) showerhouse with gaps in the boards, no door and a sign one flips over to say "women" that boys never read.


Third, there is the issue of dinosaur guys. I've had male leaders who have made inappropriate comments about female leaders and even female DE's. Unfortunately, being a Scout doesn't guarantee either education or lack of biggotry. However, Rome wasn't built in a day, and women didn't get the vote in one either.


So, I come down to adding the following to your paper: I think the "pros and cons" to debate have to do with how much the Boy Scouts as a corporate institution is willing to work on making the "paper" match the "reality". I think that there is evidence that its doing a good job. Look at Philmont, the bastion of manly-man, carry heavy loads up mountains, "pee on a rock", maleness. About half of the Rangers (those who lead every crew out and teach/supervise for the first two days) are female these days. When I went in 1969 there were only 2 or 3 at Philmont. This is the kind of contact with current Boy Scouts that is going to be the source of new attitudes when those boys become leaders themselves. Of course, in 2001 while on the trail at PHilmont, my crew came across an all-female trail crew. So, things are still happening.


Also, look at Sea Base. Again about half the staff are female (although I didn't see any female boat captains yet).


Finally, look at summercamps all over the country. We're in Colorado. In the past few years I've been to summercamp in Colorado, Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. All those camps had significant numbers of female staff -- and not just in the commissary and nurse's tent. They were in program areas, teaching merit badges, going on out-post, etc. In fact in one camp here in Colorado the camp director was female during the 2000 season.


Thus, since the summercamps are run by the local councils, I'd say that national had done a good job of promoting non-sexist practices in the organization, as well as set the example with the national high adventure bases.


Is there more to come, and progress to be made yet? Sure. I'd like to see female DE's that didn't get run off quite so fast (but pay may be part of the problem there). I'd also like to see the Boy Scouts start a co-ed program for the 11-13 age group. Of course, that's off-topic [so if you other guys want to debate that one, start a new thread! :)] My vision is separate Troops for Boys and Girls ages 11-17 but those Troops join in Scout Shows, camporees, etc. with the male Troops. I'd leave the only units with both sexes in one unit where it is, with Posts, Ships and Crews. But then, I'm becoming a dinosaur and I'd not be surprised to see more movement by the time I'm a fossil.


Scouting is co-ed in many countries. I understand Australia is one. I know that Israel is another, and I just got back from the UK, and it certainly seems to be co-ed there, at least in the middle school/high school ages. But on those particulars, you'll have to find a better source.


Good luck,






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I'm new to this site and these forums but am finding them infinitely more stimulating than the Yahoo group I subscribe to!!! I perhaps have a unique perspective. I joined Cub Scouts in 1963 and have been in the program ever since, except for a brief hiatus to go to college, get married and produce two Scouts of my own. I was a Cub for 2 years, a Scout for 3 and then joined an Explorer Post at age 14. Due to my parents' and Explorer Advisor's encouragement, I was the Post's first Eagle in 1970. These were also the first years that Exploring became co-ed...the fore-runner of Venturing. Looking back, our Advisors were either Saints or insane! Things went on during camping trips that would make national news headlines today! There was no "youth protection" or official policies about separate facilities. Our Post was sponsored by a Rescue Squad, so we all got the same training as the Squad members, and when our members reached age 18, they were invited to become official Squad members. The Squad gave us our own ambulance (which our Advisor was licensed to operate), and we were the "first aid" staff at all council functions. It was a great program, and I'm sorry it's not as viable as it once was. Were girls a disadvantage? Well, it depends on what you want to teach the kids. On the one hand, we guys were a little restrained when it came to doing "guy stuff" (you guys know what I mean). On the other hand, we learned to see girls, not as "the opposite sex", but as co-workers on the first aid team. And, I might add, most of the girls were also registered Girl Scouts, but preferred our program (or maybe the boys!).


Fast forward to today. Guess what, the GOB network is alive and well, even for us guys. I tried to volunteer to go to the last Jambo...I said, "I have lots of vacation time and I'll drive the trash truck if I need to, I just want to go." I was told, "Sorry, we have everyone we need. You're welcome to come for the day as a visitor if you want". Seems like the same old names show up all the time whether it's Silver Beaver, Jamboree Staff, Philmont, OA, you name it. Even the Youth have their own Good Ol' Youth network when it comes to OA, Philmont, and Jambo. What really causes heartburn is to see a female sign up as a leader, get in the OA a year later, and wearing a Vigil Sash a year after that. The guys don't seem to be so fortunate. So the moral is, it's more important to volunteer for a few highly visible "staff" jobs than it is to work your butt off at the Unit level where the rubber meets the road. So I agree with your statement that the males and females are not treated equally. It works both ways. And I hope that your research shows that the BSA dynamics are no different from any other organization...it is merely a microcosm of society with the same biases, flaws and imperfections. It's up to us to make a difference.

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