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What if the Boy Scouts went coed?

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I'm sorry, Ankylus, but I don't agree.  Most of the girls who are interested in joining BSA are interested because the BSA stresses camping and the outdoors.  Opening up membership to them wouldn't dilute the program for the boys.  If it can work in the rest of the world, it can work here.

 

 

Actually history already proves him right. Most of the changes the BSA made to the adult side of the program after 1990 were reactions to program quality after the induction of women in the troops.

 

Ignoring for a moment the obvious differences in gender, the induction of women massively reduced the number of adults with a youth boy scouting experience. That led to a cascade of changes from the BSA to attack the sudden reduction of troop program quality. Anyone who has worked guiding troop leaders can explain the difference in quality of unit programs (especially new units) is dramatically affected by the youth experience of it's adults. My observation is that an adult without a youth scouting experience is set back at least three years compared to adults with the youth experience. The average troop level adults last about two years. 

 

Different, but the same, women by in large don't have the same experience of camping or outdoor experiences as compared to men. But more importantly is women don't really have the heart for it either. Again, outdoors experience and the desire for it can dramatically effect a Troop program. I experienced this myself when I was advising female scoutmasters. While I know there are some female scoutmasters who believe and use the outdoors part of the program as the primary arena for scout growth, my experience was just the opposite. In fact, I remember one scoutmaster questioning why more arts and crafts meetings wasn't appropriate for her troop.

 

If you wonder how far the BSA had to go to react to the induction of women, I was told all the new adult training syllabuses introduced around 2000 were the result of rethinking how to get unexperienced adults up to speed the quickest.

 

This isn't even getting into the logistical challenges of adding girls.

 

Adding girls to the program will only increase the adult situation more. 

 

Using the argument that other countries do it isn't a sound argument because it by passes rational reasoning for making a massive change to a successful program. The argument doesn't speak of how program quality would change in the BSA. Who knows what kind of effect gender based scout programs would have in those countries. And it also ignores the elephant the room; GSUSA.

 

The only rational reason I could accept for bringing girls into the troops program is that it will enhance the mission of developing ethical and more decision makers by using an outdoor program.

 

If mixing boys and girls into scouting at this age is such a great thing, as I said in the other post, it is time to put our energies into changing the Girl Scout program that seems to be a major catalyst for this discussion. If adding women lowers the quality of a scouting program, logic suggest adding men would increase the quality of a Scouting program. 

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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Somehow, I keep thinking that this is something the BSA got right.  Between 11 and 14, boys tend to be less emotionally mature and are typically uncomfortable around girls.  Boy Scouts gives the boys something of their own at that age. The advancement through First Class provides them with something to accomplish.  For girls of that age, they tend to be a little less adventurous.  Actually, who am I kidding, the boys are less adventurous but only do it to keep up with the older boys.  I think the girls need to get to the point where they are tired of Girl Scouts and want the adventure.  By age 14, it all evens out.  OK, at least that is what I'm hoping as I embark on Venturing with a co-ed Crew of 14 and 15 year olds. :p

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If we take @@Eagledad's comments regarding the program changes in 2000 or so as accurate ..

1. the BSA introduces training materials to bring the new female scouters up to speed.  This also benefits male leaders without prior experience.

2. This is necessary because the Female leaders, generally/statistically, do not have the outdoor experience that Male leaders who grew up with the program do.

 

OK, but, unless we were to ALSO let girls join the program (and thus obtain the outdoor experience as a youth) this will ALWAYS be a problem for our female scout leaders - the BSA accommodates, but does not solve the underlying problem.  For the purpose of this post, I don't intend to advocate one position or another, just to point out that we are all better if the problem is solved - this could be more youth trained/experienced leader, this could be better retention, training and mentoring to get over the "3 year hump"; it could be something else.

 

Venturing can serve this youth experience need, but the numbers are not enough to make a dent in the needs of troop leadership for the next generation.

 

Now all that said, even if we did have more youth-experienced female leaders; we still have to have a means to train the inexperienced because there will also be new moms and dads who did not benefit from the program as youth.

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I'm sorry, Ankylus, but I don't agree.  Most of the girls who are interested in joining BSA are interested because the BSA stresses camping and the outdoors.  Opening up membership to them wouldn't dilute the program for the boys.  If it can work in the rest of the world, it can work here.

 

Don't apologize for differing. I rather like the way you went about it. Anyways, what would be the fun if we all agreed all the time?

 

I think you misunderstand what I write to some degree. I do not deny that there are some girls that would enjoy the BSA program as much as any boy would.  My point is that the numbers of those girls wont' even begin to approach that of the boys. So when BSA starts running through their metrics, they'll look at those numbers and think, "Holy Smokes! We have to get more girls in here!" (Or, if you are more cynical, "We could really boost our membership numbers if we could just get more girls in the program.")

 

So how would they do that? By altering the program to make it more appealing to girls. Which will make it less appealing to boys. At a minimum, they will water down the current program. If you dispute that, then please tell me the last time national actually beefed up the program with actual, core scouting skills? Arguably, which I contest, by making Cooking an Eagle-required MB, but before that?

 

Oh, and I don't consider "it will work" to be a standard we should shoot for. I mean, the government works. Do you know anybody who actually likes the government aside from those financially dependent on it? Maybe "it would work", but I want more than just "working".

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@@Eagledad, I don't want to say your situation is peculiar ... But when my daughter was in OK, she had a very hard time finding women to hike and camp with her. Some places have women who are more 'kept' than others. You are the only person who I've heard say that training had to become more rudimentary upon including the gals.

 

Now I'll admit Mrs. Q had a lot of getting used to when I planned the vacation. (But a full breakfast out of a cast iron skillet made up for a lot of that.) But 'round here we have quite a few gals with no qualms about the cold, hard ground. Our male trainees can be just as much, if not more, squeamish. I'm constantly breaking in one or two new dads. I suspect the problem is only going to get worse, unless a few of these immigrant families join up and show us how it's done.

 

@Anklyus I agree, "because we can" can't be the motivation. But, I think there are "because we must" motivations that may come to the fore after North American scouts work together to host the world jamboree before decade's end.

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The ideals of the scouting movement are broad and non-gender specific.  How you measure the success of a good program is not solely the # of eagles, outings, high-adventure, activities, how rough the boys are or outdoor skills, head count... It's the lasting impression of our bond w/ one another, w/ god, with our community and our country.  It's pushing our kids to the limit of what ever engages them mentally, physically, spiritually, etc....  It's thinking beyond ourselves... How you get to these goals vary vastly from unit to unit... So while BSA lays out a basic framework; there are MANY path of youth development towards the same success... 

 

That's why some units are far more sports minded, high adventure, science, technology focused, etc... None are necessarily better then the other.  Having girls in the mix with the addition of the things that interest them only widens the umbrella of paths to a lifelong commitment to scouting.  So if your unit wants to go camping AND enjoy art, more power to you as long as your youth, parent and leaders are having a great time learning / growing as Scouts... 

Another angle to consider are Boy and Girls with great scouting experiences turn in to mothers, fathers and leaders with tremendous Scout Spirit... That intern share them w/ their own children and their communities.  So to only consider the boys is only hurting ourselves.. 

Edited by hieudo
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Another angle to consider are Boy and Girls with great scouting experiences turn in to mothers, fathers and leaders with tremendous Scout Spirit... That intern share them w/ their own children and their communities.  So to only consider the boys is only hurting ourselves.. 

 

Why do you think this is not or cannot be achieved through the Venturing program? Do you find the Venturing program deficient?

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@Anklyus I agree, "because we can" can't be the motivation. But, I think there are "because we must" motivations that may come to the fore after North American scouts work together to host the world jamboree before decade's end.

 

I agree with your analyses, but I am not worried about whether we get to host the World Jamboree.

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I happened to pick up a Scouting for Girls, 1920 edition. As I flipped through it, I thought of this thread and noticed how similar it was the first edition scouting for boys. The outdoor program was heavily emphasized in the GSA, at least early on. Even rank requirements were eerily similar to that of the BSA. Thus, the only argument I see that has any merit in maintaining the staus quo (not that I necessarily agree with it), is simply to keep the genders apart so that boys can be with boys.

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I agree with your analyses, but I am not worried about whether we get to host the World Jamboree.

?? I'm sorry. Did I convey that I was worried?

The plan is that BSA, Scouts Canada, and Scouts Mexico (A.C. in Spanish) will host it together.

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The ideals of the scouting movement are broad and non-gender specific.  How you measure the success of a good program is not solely the # of eagles, outings, high-adventure, activities, how rough the boys are or outdoor skills, head count... It's the lasting impression of our bond w/ one another, w/ god, with our community and our country.  It's pushing our kids to the limit of what ever engages them mentally, physically, spiritually, etc....  It's thinking beyond ourselves... How you get to these goals vary vastly from unit to unit... So while BSA lays out a basic framework; there are MANY path of youth development towards the same success... 

 

That's why some units are far more sports minded, high adventure, science, technology focused, etc... None are necessarily better then the other.  Having girls in the mix with the addition of the things that interest them only widens the umbrella of paths to a lifelong commitment to scouting.  So if your unit wants to go camping AND enjoy art, more power to you as long as your youth, parent and leaders are having a great time learning / growing as Scouts... 

 

Another angle to consider are Boy and Girls with great scouting experiences turn in to mothers, fathers and leaders with tremendous Scout Spirit... That intern share them w/ their own children and their communities.  So to only consider the boys is only hurting ourselves.. 

Well said, I enjoy big picture perspectives, especially in the possibilities of scout growth. I would enjoy working with you in the program.

 

Still, the risk (I believe certainty) of introducing girls into the program at this age does not opening the possibilities of growth, but instead narrows the possibilities of growth. I imagine the growth for our sons in big picture of the troop program as an open umbrella. Adding girls to the program is essentially closing that umbrella.

 

As for our children turning into fathers, husbands, mothers, and wives; scouting is not the end all of our maturity growth. They still are players in the arena of real life with their own parents modeling the behaviors of mature adults. Scouting can't and doesn't dominate all their growth, thank goodness. What it does is take the real world and reduce it to a boy size so that he can grow using specific confines of behavior at a maximum rate for his maturity.

 

The growth risk based from the demographic changes of adding more female leaders (moms) has been explained pretty well. So let’s move on and consider the risk of a scout growth in the maturity of boys and girls in the troop age group. The actions of youth in their ages and stages are very powerful in prepubescent boys and girls who are going through hormonal changes and imbalances. It's not theory, anyone who has worked with youth of this age can reflect on the test of their patience. Working with one gender is challenging; the distraction of mixing the genders is much greater to say the least.

 

Just as importantly, youth of this age learn most of their behavior (90% give or take) by who they observe in their everyday activities. Compound that with the importance of this maturity oberving role models of the same gender because they "will" display what they observe as young adults. It is as import for girls as it is for boys. That is the main reason I personally don't approve of opposite genders as the dominant unit leader. Boys need to observe dominant males, and girls need to observe dominant females.

 

And yes, this discussion is just as much for the health and growth of our daughters as it is for our sons. If our daughters' don't have as much opportunity for growth, then pressure should be applied to the girls program so as not to reduce the quality of our sons' program.

 

Finally, the maturity of our youth change with puberty. Their brains are rewired so that the impact of observing others doesn’t have near the impact as it did before puberty. This is why mixing the genders in the BSA program around age 14 doesn't have the negative effect on their growth as it does before puberty.

 

I enjoyed your explanation of the possibilities of growth for both my sons and my daughters, but you are missing the important phases of these young peoples' maturity and instinctive drives. Nature (God) has built instincts into our youth for maximum growth for their behavior in both as children and as adults. If managed properly, the Boy Scout program, as it is now, maximizes that growth within the design of the scouts’ instincts. Mixing the genders will only distract them from their instinctive design and reduce the possibilities of their growth. I have observed and experienced it in the different youth programs of which I participated. The Troop program right now is one of the best programs for behavior growth in our culture. Changing it without consideration of the effects of that growth will only hurt our sons.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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?? I'm sorry. Did I convey that I was worried?

The plan is that BSA, Scouts Canada, and Scouts Mexico (A.C. in Spanish) will host it together.

Er.... It's not a plan. It's happening! The ship rolled down the slipway some time ago. Certainly the Uk is starting to put together the adult element of its contingent and this time next year will begin the selection process of the youth contingent. Other national organisations are heading that way as well.

 

It will be interesting to see what influence the international influx has on the future of BSA. After we hosted in 2007 there did seem, at least anecdotally, to be a movement towards more international contact and expeditions.

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I agree with your analyses, but I am not worried about whether we get to host the World Jamboree.

If by not worried you mean worried it might not happen then quite right. As above, it is happening!

 

If by not worried you mean not bothered then please reconsider.

 

World Jamborees are something special. They are not about advancement or hiking or day to day scouting. They are more about learning and discovery and meeting those from around the world you may not otherwise ever get to meet. All in a giant melting pot of scouts. I've never camped at a world jamboree only done a day trip. I did though attend a European jamboree and it was a life changing experience. Italians camped one side of us, poles the other. Dutch, Irish, Portugese, Swiss, French, Hungarians, Norwegians all nearby. Everyone I've ever spoken to that has been to a world or European jamboree has a huge stupid grin all over their face when they talk about it.

 

My favourite memory? Being at work a couple of days before the 2007 jamboree kicked off. A non scouting friend sent me a text message that said something like "every scout in the world seems to be in London, what's going on?" It took a lot of explaining!

 

You and your scouts may not get to go but if any of them do it will be something extraordinary and in 3 years time if you are there or not you will feel very proud indeed.

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?? I'm sorry. Did I convey that I was worried?

The plan is that BSA, Scouts Canada, and Scouts Mexico (A.C. in Spanish) will host it together.

 

No, and I did not mean to imply you were. My apologies for being inarticulate. I meant to say that the World Jamboree is not of any importance in long term program considerations for BSA and, so, I think it is irrelevant here. I should have stated this directly rather than indirectly. Again, my apologies.

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@ Ankylus - I have faith in the venturing program, but at 14+ years old, the optimum time to learn is over; just as in language or faith.  And at this point... they are merely guest in the boy's house.  Not real members.

 

@ Eagledad - While I agree that child development is different between boys and girls, I don't think that boys are so delicate that in a situation w/ sisters and mothers that they cannot thrive.   If that's the case we should consider keeping them separate for families, school and playground as well...  Adversities breed strength and character right?  We manage our developmental differences in our troop by keeping the patrols separate, but most all of our activities are together. So that if a patrol needs to be more "boy" or "girl" they are free to do so.  Certainly Scouting alone is not the end-all to maturity and personal development... but I know that when my sons and daughters leave for college (and eventually come back), they will have shared the same experiences and love for Scouting as I do, and the many generations that have come before me.

 

Though I get your point... I can see hypersensitive considerations to be PC could hurt the program...  I think we are strong enough to overcome it if we choose to be.

A testament of this philosophy is that 90% of the leaders that are in our troop are not parents following their kids through the scouting program, it's our G1, G2, Gx kids coming back to pay it forward to our next generation of boys AND girls.  They are full-time leaders in the age groups that they specialize in that don't change much from year to year.

Here's is an example of things that we do together (I called it scoutmobiles instead of cubmobiles):



The girls built / paint their carts next to the boys and everyone had a great time as a family.

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