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What if the Boy Scouts went coed?

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@ 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.

I'm not sure what that means. You imply that I said boys need to be separated from moms and sisters because of their differences. Read my post again:"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."

 

Many studies have concluded that both genders tend to do better at this age when they are segregated because they are distracted by the opposite sex. Interestingly, you followed the adversity breeds strength and character with "We manage our developmental differences in our troop by keeping the patrols separater." You post is a bit conflicting, if not confusing..

 

Confusion aside, I'm intrigued with your program hieudo. I try to bring a pragmatic balance to these discussions because the general reasoning for bringing girls into the program is basicaly for adult convenience. The arguments are generally: "he rest of the world does it", or " Girls are no different than boys", or "It's inevitable, so lets get it over with'.

 

This is a great program where boys can truly grow into men of character when the program is managed correctly. It is one of the few youth programs in the U.S. where the structure is designed for the boys to learn by taking responsibility for their decisions. From my experience, I disagree that outside adversity is always a character builder. The Patrol in the Patrol Method is actually a somewhat fragile structure that can be disrupted by the smallest of interruptions. In fact I would says at least 50% of the discussions on this forum deal with the very problem. Outside distractions from the adults alone disrupt the ideals of boys making independent choices. Adults struggle to give boys independence, you think that gets easier mixing the hormonal sexes? All in all the advantages of patrol method are shut out or shutdown. It's not a theory, I've observed it over and over in non scouting youth programs where the boys and girls are mixed together.

 

I'm intrigued with your program because you did something that nobody else has really suggested, or at least done to level of success. You attacked the problem from the girls side without really changing the patrol method of the boys side. What makes the patrol method the ideal environment for scout growth is the patrol itself. Most other adults would mixed the genders within the patrols and as I keep saying, that does change the dynamics completely. Either we are in this for the boys growth, or we are not as far as I'm concerned. Same goes for programs with our daughters. If I wanted my kids to go to a YMCA after school program, I would send them there. The Mission of the BSA program is more pointed in building ethical and moral men who make decisions. I have been doing this scouting stuff of a long time and it works as marketed when it is managed as marketed. 

 

But, by keeping the boys in boys patrols and girls in the girls patrols in your program along with keeping the BSA program on the boys side and the GSUSA on the girls side in your program, the two sides stay autonomous while still using the advantages adults seem to need with mixed gender scouting. In fact, the most popular reason adults want to bring girls into the BSA is because the quality of the GSUSA is not up to par with the BSA. I can see your structure attacking that problem successfully without taking away from the patrol method program. 

 

I would be interested in visiting your program and watching it in action. While I'm not sure there is a nation wide need for a program like yours, I can see it working for a lot of smaller communities. In fact, a program like yours might become a standard vehicle for improving the quality of the GSUSA programs.

 

One final thought: folks keep participating in these discussions as if mixing girls into the BSA Troop program is inevitable. They don't understand the strength and will of the GSUSA. The BSA does however. If the BSA ever considers the idea of bringing in girls, they will have the wrath of the GSUSA on them and National won't know what hit them. So, with that in mind, the discussions should steer away from the BSA side and point more toward to giving girls a quality program their brothers are getting. I think your program is a model that could start that discussion.

 

Barry

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Apologies if I don't articulate my point as well... I'm merely saying we pine over the perfect environment (almost a vacuum) for our boys to flourish and worry about influences that may throw their development in jeopardy, when their own resilience and adaptive skills are a lot stronger than we think they are.  I may be incorrect, but that's what I read when you say "The Patrol in the Patrol Method is actually a somewhat fragile structure that can be disrupted by the smallest of interruptions".  Being a product of our system and serving as a leader for 20+ years, I just feel (no studies involved, hehehe) that this ominous distraction between the genders for US is non-existent because the kids have been together since they where brownies and cub scouts...

I understand that If we took a traditionally boy-only troop now, and injected a bunch of girls, that the disruption would be HUGE...

"We manage our developmental differences in our troop by keeping the patrols separate." You post is a bit conflicting, if not confusing.."
I guess a I should have given a little back information.. :p like I said, not the best at articulating... 

At the lowest patrol level, it's single gender for the flexibility of breaking apart from the whole troop to do gender specific events when we need to.  But things such high-adventure, skill training, songs, camps are done together.  Everyone goes to the same training for Junior Leader Training.  Everyone knows the same song and dances.  Everyone follows the same patrol method.   When we compete in skill based knowledge, it's together (the boys don't always win...).  In fact, large scale competitions are between boy scouts, ventures crews, caddettes and seniors, without consideration for age or gender.  The younger kids get into their paces and give the older kids a run for their money in a very short amount of time and their fewer success are sweet for all of their hard work to catch-up.  It's less confusing if you think of us as scouts, instead of boy scouts and girls scouts.

Our "angle of attack" is not to strengthen the girl side :D, but to do our best in providing one consistent and enduring scout impression for all of our children.

I'm fully aware of the politics involved between GSUSA and BSA and the chances of an integrated program in the near future is next to none... AND I know such an integration would prob be fumbled many times before they get it right...   It's just wishing thinking on my part that I can take this unified view beyond my troop and fully utilize the best of scouting from both worlds.

 

Edited by hieudo
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Two plus decades ago, when I was a summer camp program director, my camp manager who was an active girl scout leader approached me about running a week of Girl Scouts at our camp.  We already did a week of Webelos, two half-weeks of Cub Scouts, and three weeks of boy scouts.  Over the course of the summer, the camp was underutilized - it was a small council at the time.  The Girl Scouts had also recently closed down and sold their own camp; so I thought that this might be a neat idea to try.

 

I acquired the literature for different Girl Scout ages and their badges and looked at the cross over between the capabilities of the Staff and facilities.  While in the end, the program did not happen while I was still the program director, I understand my successor was able to run it for a year or two - I wish I knew more about how that went. 

 

More recently, with the changes in the cub scout program, we did a lot of analysis of the overlapping activities and events that could be or had to be done at the pack level. 

 

My point is that I understand that it takes a tremendous amount of work and planning to achieve programs that can simultaneously fit the different needs and requirements of the different cub/boy/girl/venture k-1/2-3/4-5/5-8/9-12 grade youth programs.  I am in total awe of what @@hieudo and his fellow leaders have been able to accomplish.  It probably isn't the right program for most of the boy scout programs, but it would be so fantastic if a few more units like this could be set up as some sort of pilot program - to see what we could achieve if we wanted to and tried hard enough; to learn when and where a program like this is appropriate - and when it is not.  It seems to have the right balance of together and separate activities for the different age groups and genders.

 

@@hieudo, please, document well what you and your fellow leaders do and make that information available somehow.  What works, what doesn't and the challenges you face and how they are overcome.  This would provide invaluable information if any form of program unification were ever to be considered or to come to pass.

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I can't take credit for this :D  It's been going on for 85 years... hehehe, but it works for our organization 

On the program side, our hierarchy has a few more levels than a traditional pack, troop, crew.  Since we are a Multi-Unit (If I made this up, the copyright 2016, hehehehe) made up of several units for bsa and gsusa, there is a Muilti-Unit leader / asst Multi-unit Leader that oversees the entire program from elementary school age through college and beyond (we actively keep up w/ our alums through social events to make the transition back easy and the bonds strong).  This leader works w/ the unit leaders (cub master, scout master, etc...) to ensure the program is of high quality across the board and support where needed.  He also manage the large Multi-Unit level events.  Almost all of our leaders for boys and girls are wood badge trained (dual registration).

We meet on every Saturday's during the school year from 12-2 all in the same place at church.  During this time, we could meet as a multi-level troop or down to dens and patrols levels, or any combinations of the above often in support of each others programs.  Our advancements are still w/ the respective organizations BUT there are a lot of over lap that we can combine our resources.

Planning at the beginning of the year or any given weekend often sounds like this:

This year, I want to get out and fish, camp, community service, push carts, do STEM stuff, paint, etc... 

Then the girls would be, count us in on fishing, camping, community service, push carts, and STEM, but we had enough of painting... or vice versa

Or Ventures are going to Swamp base this year, our Seniors (who are also dual registered ventures) can chime in and participate together.

 

Or this weekend I'm teaching Orienteering... who's in?  caddettes, boy scout, webelos... 

With our larger pool of leaders, we have people that are specialized in things such as shooting sports, carpentry, crafts, etc... that all levels can make use of.

Hope that rambling made sense... 

Edited by hieudo
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One final thought: folks keep participating in these discussions as if mixing girls into the BSA Troop program is inevitable. They don't understand the strength and will of the GSUSA. The BSA does however. If the BSA ever considers the idea of bringing in girls, they will have the wrath of the GSUSA on them and National won't know what hit them. So, with that in mind, the discussions should steer away from the BSA side and point more toward to giving girls a quality program their brothers are getting. I think your program is a model that could start that discussion.

 

 

 

Anecdotally I was told, and I think some on this website mentioned it a few years ago too, that in the 1970s there was talk about the BSA either merging with GSUSA or going coed.  Girl Scouts nixed that one.

 

As for facing the wrath of the GSUSA, national encountered that in the late 1980s, early 1990s. National supply wanted to come out with a Boy Scout Energy Bar that could be sold in Scout shops. GSUSA got a wind of it, and unleashed their lawyers on the BSA to stop it as the energy bar was too close to their cookies. I got a case of those Boy Scout energy bars when the scout shop moved and they were getting rid of unnecessary merchandise prior to the move.

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Supporting the notion of single sex education having value, here's some fodder from the DC-area public school district about their new all-male prep school:

http://dcps.dc.gov/page/empowering-males-high-school

 

This is hitting the news wires this week. In one radio interview (http://www.npr.org/2016/08/24/491170171/new-all-boys-school-opens-in-washington-d-c) the superintendent being interviewed noted that the district has had a girls' school for quite some time and it never received the coverage that the soon-to-be-opened boys' school is having.

 

A good reminder that, as we may discuss this from our own personal perspectives, there are special interests that would push the conversation in a particular direction.

Edited by qwazse

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Anecdotally I was told, and I think some on this website mentioned it a few years ago too, that in the 1970s there was talk about the BSA either merging with GSUSA or going coed.  Girl Scouts nixed that one.

 

Times have changed.  Not much GSUSA could do beyond protecting their own brand names.  BSA could do it with a simple membership application change.  Instead of having girls join now at 13/14 into a crew, let them join three years earlier into a troop or six years earlier into a pack.  Let them earn Eagle.  Let them participate.  Or just change exploring to be an earlier program that starts younger.   Most of this stuff is already happening within the existing limits.

 

IMHO, it is a injustice that girls can't earn Eagle.  If GSUSA wants to let boys earn Gold, fine.  But I really think we need to let girls in crews earn Eagle.

 

Many units would fail if we did not have moms helping as leaders and admins.  So we need the moms, but we won't accept the daughters? 

Edited by fred johnson
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Times ..  IMHO, it is a injustice that girls can't earn Eagle.  If GSUSA wants to let boys earn Gold, fine.  But I really think we need to let girls in crews earn Eagle.

 

Many units would fail if we did not have moms helping as leaders and admins.  So we need the moms, but we won't accept the daughters? 

 

I'm just not seeing the demand. I had girls who hung out with boys in our troop about as much as anyone could stand. Not one asked to earn even one MB. Same talking to the vast majority of female venturers (with one or two exceptions). At this age, there is so much more value in professional certifications.

 

About the only time I can think of where it might have been worth it to a girl to have earned a MB was at a council camporee when one of my female venturers wanted to take a scout sailing and the aquatics supervisor (female, BTW) insisted that the girl had to have small boat sailing MB. I happened to be canoeing by (dropping off the scout who wanted to sail with her) and intervened explaining the catch 22, and that that particular young lady had three summers of sailing school. (I have no I idea if there were any other such qualified young women from other crews who were turned away.)

 

 

And frankly, as a crew advisor, I find Eagle rank advancement to be a bit of a distraction. I offer it to the boys, and I'm kinda glad none have taken me up on it. But, as a result I'm dealing with fellows whose time is split between two units. That's not all bad. There's a decent exchange of good ideas when it's working at its best. And everyone seems happy with the awards they can get outside of Venturing.

 

So, any evidence that I have suggests that enabling the trail to Eagle for the few female venturers who ever might consider it would cater to the 1% of the 1%. :(

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Here is what the BSA's Congressional charter says:

 

That the purpose of this corporation shall be to promote, through organization, and cooperation with other agencies, the ability of boys to do things for themselves and others, to train them in Scoutcraft, and to teach them patriotism, courage, self-reliance, and kindred virtues, using the methods which are now in common use by Boy Scouts.

Notice the word "boys". So how is it that the BSA can have programs for people other than "boys"? Including Venturing, which is a program for both boys and non-boys? Including Exploring and Learning for Life, which although they are "separate", are still operated by the BSA?

 

Note that I have no problem with the Venturing program, or LFL or Exploring, being coed. I also would not have a major problem with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts going coed, but I think it would be better to strengthen the GSUSA's outdoor focus and keep the Boy Scout and Cub Scout program as they are. But how is "coed" even an issue under the Congressional charter?

 

I am sure I am not the first person ever to ask this question, but I do not recall any threads about it in this forum.

Edited by NJCubScouter

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NJ,

 

I could be way off base here (and perhaps some legal beaver, errr eagle can chime in) but I think there is a principle in the law that posits that a restriction doesn't necessarily serve to keep others out but rather to make sure certain classes/activites are in. 

 

In this case, it would mean that just because the charter uses the term boys, it doesn't neccessarily mean "only" boys - that the BSA could include girls and adults, and the restriction here would be it must always include boys.  If the BSA were to stop serving boys and serve only girls, then that would be the violation of the charter.

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Here is what the BSA's Congressional charter says:Notice the word "boys". So how is it that the BSA can have programs for people other than "boys"? Including Venturing, which is a program for both boys and non-boys? Including Exploring and Learning for Life, which although they are "separate", are still operated by the BSA?Note that I have no problem with the Venturing program, or LFL or Exploring, being coed. I also would not have a major problem with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts going coed, but I think it would be better to strengthen the GSUSA's outdoor focus and keep the Boy Scout and Cub Scout program as they are. But how is "coed" even an issue under the Congressional charter?I am sure I am not the first person ever to ask this question, but I do not recall any threads about it in this forum.

Because of the fine print! Under "powers" the charter allows BSA to

- do any other act necessary to carry out this chapter and promote the purpose of the corporation.

 

Under "Restrictions" there is no statement as to limitation of membership.

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