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What if the Boy Scouts went coed?

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... As an aside, I happened to witness a council run Venturing camp program this summer, and while it was expected that the young women would be mature and capable, there was a key miscalculation. It turned out they were mature, but they were critically inexperienced. They were still first-year campers, and make all the same mistakes, and need to learn all the same lessons, that first year campers learn. However, their age and maturity made the traditional first-year camper program completely out of the question. No one really knew how to deal with 15 year old female first year campers (particularly when things like homesickness started cropping up). Plus, Venturing doesn't have the level of structured indoctrination into the basics of Scouting as Boy Scouts does, so there were some elements missing. All this was made more difficult by some adult "advisers" who neither understood nor were sympathetic to the standard BSA ways of operating a camp. ...

 

My observations concur. But these are problems that can only be solved if more girls are brought in on the same education track as boys.

By the time scouts who enter the program at 14 (summer camp at probably 15) have sufficient skills to mentor another youth in outdoor living, they are on their way to college or war.

 

The only solution that I can think of that doesn't involve BSA going full-on co-ed is granting Venturing and GSUSA to use the trail to First Class as part of their training program for young women.

 

And as @@pargolf44067's pretzel-ignition anecdote indicates ... this is a problem many parents of young women have no interest in solving.

Edited by qwazse
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My observations concur. But these are problems that can only be solved if more girls are brought in on the same education track as boys.

By the time scouts who enter the program at 14 (summer camp at probably 15) have sufficient skills to mentor another youth in outdoor living, they are on their way to college or war.

 

The only solution that I can think of that doesn't involve BSA going full-on co-ed is granting Venturing and GSUSA to use the trail to First Class as part of their training program for young women.

 

And as @@pargolf44067's pretzel-ignition anecdote indicates ... this is a problem many parents of young women have no interest in solving.

Maybe they don't see it as an issue...

 

What is surprising is the lack of cooperation between our two WOSM scouting organizations here in the USA.

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I would not like coed patrols but I could go for all boy or all girl patrols. Patrol method would be easier to describe and see if there were girls. "They'd rather go canoeing than backpacking. Fine, what do you want to do? Blow things up. How about shotgun? Ooooooh yeah."

 

Parents would be happier if they could bring all their kids to the same place.

 

I've heard similar to what Skip said, that there just aren't as many girls interested.

 

While there is an ugly social vibe that goes on in coed schools, maybe scouts could show the shy nerdy boy how to talk to the shy nerdy girl.

 

Biggest fear: moms. Let your kids fail. If you don't want to see them eat burnt food or dirt, don't go camping with us. Bad parents are bad parents. It's just that more of them are moms. I have a mom in my troop that is great. She organizes HA trips. She knows when her mom radar starts beeping. The thing is she was very active in the outdoors, in girl scouts. She ate burnt food and dirt as a kid.

 

I think Barry's concern is that the BSA program is designed to appeal to most boys and that if we make it so most girls are equally welcome then it will dilute things. Some girls like the current program, and I welcome them, but lets not make it so all girls want to join. Remember our roots -- learning to have fun in the outdoors even if the words "suck it up" (at an age appropriate level) are needed to get us over the tough parts.

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Look at the hypersensitivity of feminists,  routinely shouting "rape"  these days on college campuses for the most trivial reasons. 

 

 

Girls and women have their own program,  which they apparently manage poorly.  Keep the feminist influence OUT of BSA,  or we'll all be taking rape "sensitivity" training before long.

 

The policy goal of feminists is CONTROL by women over men,  establishing a matriarchy.  Web don't need to give that yet another leg up in BSA.

Edited by SeattlePioneer
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Interesting comments at roundtable tonight:

One scouter returned from World Jamboree and concluded "If's all about scouting, not boy scouting!"

Another scouter said, "That's why I [didn't volunteer in a direct-contact position with BSA but rather] pushed paperwork for everyone. My daughter and wife wanted me to take THEM camping."

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I think this is a very valid point

Maybe the separate dens or patrols might help with this, or maybe not.... that's why I'm clouded on it.

 

Still, my gut says I'm for it....

I've never tried separate patrols myself but no of troops that have, and it was a disaster, at least in the UK where the scout section is 10-14. The increased maturity of girls at that age meant the girl patrols dominated any form of competition every time. It might work your side of the pond where you go through to 18 so boys have an opportunity to catch up but I would personally be wary.

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As others have perhaps mentioned - most Scouting around the world is coed; the US is one of the few countriesd that does NOT have coed Scouting. I think it should be done.

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I hear the arguments, and I'm not agreeing with this whole notion.  Here we are talking about girls beating the boys.  Great.  This at the same time educators praise the idea of having all-female science and math classes, because the girls will perform better that way.  OK.  Good.  Is this all some sort of equal opportunity game we're playing?  If so, then let's give the boys a chance to catch up in the leadership and confidence game we call Scouting.  Co-ed is good in some situations.  Not so good in others.  Do we think that's true?  Are we trying to fix that?  Is it possible?  I don't think so.  We have parents who jump on the idea of boys playing with dolls, and girls playing with trucks, because somebody thinks that a warm, fuzzy way to level the field.  Is that what this is all about?  Are we claiming that it's our solemn duty to 'catch up' with the rest of the world?  Is the whole world more advanced than the United States?  Our society/government keeps messing with business, education, and health care, and what's the payoff?  We take what isn't broken, and try fix.  If it ain't broke . . .

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I look at it from the perspective of sports teams. We have soccer, baseball, and hockey teams that have girls playing on them. They are about 1 in 10. In hockey though up until about age 14 they are often the best players on the team and then the boys really catch up and often quickly outdo the girls. The boys learn to deal with them. They all change clothes in the same locker room and deal with it. If they need to they duck into a bathroom stall.

 

Now there are still separate girls teams also like girls softball.

 

Also while the team is coed and they laugh and play together, between games usually the girls all go into their own group. I'd guess the same would be at a coed scout camp.

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Maybe they don't see it as an issue...

 

What is surprising is the lack of cooperation between our two WOSM scouting organizations here in the USA.

No, actually they are fully cooperating. There has been an unwritten longtime agreement by the two organizations to stay away from each others memberships. That is why I'm not worried about the BSA changing it's policy to accept girls. Still, this has been one of the best intellectual discussion on this subject I've ever seen on this forum. For the most part, emotion and political correctness has been left out leaving the benefits and repercussions as the main topic.

 

Also what has been left out is how the adult side will comform to such a change. As I said, I don't think it would go very well because it would encourage more unscout (outdoor activities) like adults to lead the youth into a less scout like program. One of the bigger challenges of a Cub pack is getting good Webelos leaders who want to bring more outdoor skills into the program to get the Webelos ready for a troop program. The reason that is a challenge is because the majority of the Wolf/Bear leaders don't have that kind of experience and don't really want it. Those same adults are the majority of leaders in today's Girl Scout Troops, That is the huge challenge the BSA would have to contend with when bringing in girls. And honestly I don't think there are enough girls who are demanding a boy scout type program to take the risk.

 

As I said I'm pretty selfish about this, if bringing in girls has ANY negative effect on the boys side of the program, then it's a bad deal for the BSA and a bad deal for my son. I'm not willing to compromise a good program just provide a better program for a few girls.

 

Some of you folks have provided some really good stuff in this discussion. But I have seen nothing that makes feel admitting girls would be a benefit for the boys.

 

But it is a really good discussion and I'm listening.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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....and in an act of benevolence they allow us our illusions.

well the smart ones do anyway!

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Eagledad,

Your point is well taken.  The emphasis is how it would benefit girls, and I think it most likely would.  Fact is that an exceptional girl will smoke an average boy any day, and I honestly think that's who people are presenting as likely candidates who would get a lot out of Boy Scouts.  I would submit, as well, that an exceptional boy would crush the average girl (at the expense of being called a bully).  The argument falls apart (in my mind) when we mix the average boys and girls in certain environments.  Young boys and girls are squirrelly, and I take the pessimistic viewpoint.  It's tough enough working with just squirrely boys.  Why throw gas on the fire?  We're here to provide a program where young boys can gain confidence and self-reliance.  They can learn new skills, and practice leadership.  Putting girls in that setting could damage those opportunities, because the behaviors would change.  Several people have said that different ages present different issues.  I think that Venturing (as it is now) is the setting where these issues can be handled with a little more maturity.  Girls seem to dominate in the leadership category, and I think a lot of that has to do with the mentality of the players.  The girls are new to the program, and are excited to be there.  They take on the challenge of leadership, and aren't afraid of failure.  They don't mind competing with the boys (what do they have to lose?).  The boys are complacent, and allow the girls to lead.  That's great for those girls, and I think it's exciting.  Good for them!  Giving the boys a chance to remain in a troop until they're 18 allows the opportunity to develop their skills, leadership, and character.  It's worked for 100 years.  Put girls in that troop, and the dynamic changes.  Is that good for the boys?  I'm thinking not.  Let them take care of their own cooking, cleaning, hygiene, roughhousing, succeeding, and failing, without the ingrained need to impress a girl.  They can let their guard down, and just be a boy.  They don't have to worry about their little sister tattling on them, or their older sister telling them what to do.  They don't have to compete, and take a chance of losing to a girl!  Heaven forbid.  Boys are clumsy and dirty, and need the space to grow.  Give them a chance.  If this means allowing them an uneven playing field, so they can catch up to the maturity and grace of the girls, what's wrong with that?  If it ain't broke . . .

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I would not like coed patrols but I could go for all boy or all girl patrols. Patrol method would be easier to describe and see if there were girls. "They'd rather go canoeing than backpacking. Fine, what do you want to do? Blow things up. How about shotgun? Ooooooh yeah."

 

Parents would be happier if they could bring all their kids to the same place.

 

I've heard similar to what Skip said, that there just aren't as many girls interested.

 

While there is an ugly social vibe that goes on in coed schools, maybe scouts could show the shy nerdy boy how to talk to the shy nerdy girl.

 

........

That was my angle in thinking exactly.  The girl patrols would go their way, the boys the other..... every now and then they might meet and mingle in an activity that appeals to both, giving that nerdy boy a chance at talking with that nerdy girl, as you put it....

 

.....which I suppose opens up another line of discussion, and that is the dating potential or exposure for the older kids.... maybe still a win, as a way for kids to meet other like minded kids (or not a win when they break-up)

 

I've never tried separate patrols myself but no of troops that have, and it was a disaster, at least in the UK where the scout section is 10-14. The increased maturity of girls at that age meant the girl patrols dominated any form of competition every time. It might work your side of the pond where you go through to 18 so boys have an opportunity to catch up but I would personally be wary.

 

I guess I never really considered all this competition stuff that you and others bring up.... but then I still don't see that as the end all of the issue either.  All this talk about girls being more advanced..... ok true enough, but that's only one small piece of it I think....For me it's not all about competition.  Girls and boys might compete in some areas, but perhaps not in others.

 

I guess I look at it as a potential win for the boys, win for the girls, and win for parents, and a win for scouting..... but while you've give good reason to pause @@Cambridgeskip, I'm still really leaning to the need for separation with to address all these very valid concerns the "against" crowd brings up....

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... guess I look at it as a potential win for the boys, win for the girls, and win for parents, and a win for scouting..... but while you've give good reason to pause @@Cambridgeskip, I'm still really leaning to the need for separation with to address all these very valid concerns the "against" crowd brings up....

First, who is gonna tell my SM how to organize patrols in his own troop?

 

I'm the sort who leaves the room and tells the youth to segregate with the thought that they will be a team who has to hold together for at least a year. If I come back and a patrol has older+younger scouts or life+tenderfoot or girls+boys (under some hypothetical rules change) or maybe one of each of those categories ... I'm working with it.  Who's gonna make me change?

If my SM would rather do a little micromanaging, even though it's not how I'd do it. I'm assisting him ... that's what the patch on my sleeve says.

If some other SM wants to toss youth-lead out the window and create the older-life-girls, older-life-boys, older-tenderfoot-girls, etc ... patrols with the youth in each having roughly identical characteristics, nobody's gonna revoke his charter.

 

Second, I don't broker in hypothetical's from armchair quarterbacks. So unless that member of the "against" crowd is hiking 4 miles into bear country with my supper in his/her pack, I'm not likely to accommodate the anxieties of his/her constituents.

 

The reason why Venturing works when it does is not because our youth have naturally shed that boyish or girlish behavior by age 14. It's because advisors won't let the crew officers put up with such shenanigans, and that get's sent down the chain. I suspect something of the sort would happen in the younger divisions of scouting.

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First of all BSA is co-ed down to the Cub Scout level.  It's called STEM Scouting and it focuses on the indoors where the bugs can't get to you and cause harm.

 

The outdoor stuff is still boy only until one gets t the high school level (age 14) then it's co-ed.

 

The last real bastion of uniquely male only child development program remains with the BSA.  Going co-ed would destroy that and make it just like any other activity out there.

 

When one gets right down to the basic core of the program major changes will be readily at hand with a co-ed program.

 

Take the Patrol Method for example.  Co-ed patrols?  That would mean a male and female adult for every outing and they would be 300' away from the boys/girls patrol areas.

 

Basically going co-ed will necessitate the YMCA/church youth group approach of separate facilities for everything and that does not bode well for any program that is working at a more primitive approach to the outdoors.  

 

Co-ed would facilitate an adult-led troop approach to the program because it would be far less efficient under the current guidelines of the BSA to do it with the Patrol Method.

 

This would be the next generational step that began the demise of BSA since the 1970's.

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