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Girl Scouts react to Boy Scouts considering girls

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It's hard enough to take a bunch of teenage boys out into the wilderness. Mix in a bunch of teenage girls? No thanks, I like to sleep at night.

I went to a presentation last week about an expedition some of our explorer scouts and network did. Two mixed gender teams of 5, aged 16-21. 4 days walking 3 nights camping. Remote supervision (i.e. an expedition assessor would meet them either in the evening or morning and see how they were doing).

They were described by the assessor as two of the best teams they've ever had.

 

We've done mixed gender camping for years.

 

We've done mixed gender hikes and camping without close adult supervision.

 

We've occasionally had mixed gender tents.

 

I'm not really sure what there is to keep you up at night. But reality is a often a lot more boring than the imagination.

 

I mean, to cover things off explicitly:

 

Periods: They know when they're due, so they are prepared. A few supplies in the first aid kit just in case. Any surprises and accidents are just treated as you would an accident at the back door not the front door.

 

(whispers) S.E.X.: Doesn't really raise its ugly head. We have had the odd couple on camp. A chat about being respectful, considering others, and the lass usually says "there's barely any showers Ian, he ain't getting anywhere close, certainly not sticking that in there" or words to that effect.

Consent, or otherwise. That's covered off by the scout law.

One time we had a mixed gender tent with about 8 of them in it, a teepee, effectively, one parent was concerned enough to suggest, with a raised eyebrow, that they'd all be "at it like rabbits" as soon as my back was turned, as "that's what we did". Funnily enough, a chat about trust and responsibilities, that didn't happen. To be honest, every time we bring it up, usually our young people ask "what do you think we're like? Honestly? Why would you even do that? Eurgh!".

 

Maybe I've been lucky. Maybe we should give young people more credit.

 

That said, I've never, as a leader, moved from a single sex section to a mixed sex section, but I know leaders that have, and have found it difficult to adjust, so I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park, but if you're enjoying your scouting, why not carry on and give it a go, instead of stopping?

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I think the concerns extend beyond periods and sex. I think the concern I have would be turning Boy Scouts into a watered down camping club for the older youth and a glorified day care for the grade schoolers. I don't believe adding girls would have to result in those changes but it is a risk based upon some of the language being used. I think it also depends on which girls join Boy Scouts. If the tomboys, for lack of a better term, join I don't see an issue. If girls join and push scouting to more about STEM and other non outdoor activities ... it could permanently damage Boy Scouts.

 

If Boy Scouts keep their patrol method and continue to be an outdoor driven program with minimal changes, I would welcome adding girl members. We had a few girls go with us on a 100 mile canoe trip in the BWCA with no issues.... they were considered one of the guys. However, I could also see this go south fast.

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@@Stosh,

 

... By having Boy Scouts 11-13, they could bolster Venturing by having the gals earn the Eagle. 

...

Or, they could just have boy scouts who are co-ed earn eagle, and venturers not bother with advancement ... since most of them don't and will likely continue to not do so.

I mean, if anyone really wanted to manipulate the advancement scheme so as to bolster venturing, remove the age restriction and allow one to continue working on Eagle so long as they were an ASM or an adult venturer between age 18-20.

 

In this way, Venturing's membership.woes are a curse and blessing. There aren't many venturing youth to campaign for a co-ed scouting experience. But, if a wholesome co-ed troop life would draw off most venturers, the continued decline of this division would hardly be missed. In fact, I could see O/A completely replacing venturing ... were it to welcome young women. Again, not a problem to me.

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If Boy Scouts keep their patrol method and continue to be an outdoor driven program with minimal changes, I would welcome adding girl members. We had a few girls go with us on a 100 mile canoe trip in the BWCA with no issues.... they were considered one of the guys. However, I could also see this go south fast.

Yes, loss of the patrol method would be...a game changer. And not in a good way.

 

I can't quite remember what happened in the UK, but I seem to remember Girl Guides, well, there were no doubt local rumblings and mumblings. But I think their HQ may have said something like "we've got the same broad goals but we're doing different things aimed at different girls" and probably reminded people there's more of them than scouts in the UK.

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One of the problems I see on the horizon with Venturing and advancement is the lack of the patrol method in Venturing.  It's not very well defined in troops and would be even less in Venturing.  That in and of itself would be difficult to justify in the whole scheme of Scouting on the Boy Scout vs. Venturing levels.

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One of the problems I see on the horizon with Venturing and advancement is the lack of the patrol method in Venturing.  It's not very well defined in troops and would be even less in Venturing.  That in and of itself would be difficult to justify in the whole scheme of Scouting on the Boy Scout vs. Venturing levels.

That problem exists now. But, it goes in both directions. I see some boys choose to be in a crew so that they can have a patrol in action, not in name only. Six to eight youth hiking and camping independently with their mates, by any other name ....

 

I know some SM's accuse venturing of wrecking their patrols. My experience, however, is troops with strong patrols don't have boys running off to Venturing.

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I went to a presentation last week about an expedition some of our explorer scouts and network did. Two mixed gender teams of 5, aged 16-21. 4 days walking 3 nights camping. Remote supervision (i.e. an expedition assessor would meet them either in the evening or morning and see how they were doing).

They were described by the assessor as two of the best teams they've ever had.

 

We've done mixed gender camping for years.

 

We've done mixed gender hikes and camping without close adult supervision.

 

We've occasionally had mixed gender tents.

 

I'm not really sure what there is to keep you up at night. But reality is a often a lot more boring than the imagination.

 

I mean, to cover things off explicitly:

 

Periods: They know when they're due, so they are prepared. A few supplies in the first aid kit just in case. Any surprises and accidents are just treated as you would an accident at the back door not the front door.

 

(whispers) S.E.X.: Doesn't really raise its ugly head. We have had the odd couple on camp. A chat about being respectful, considering others, and the lass usually says "there's barely any showers Ian, he ain't getting anywhere close, certainly not sticking that in there" or words to that effect.

Consent, or otherwise. That's covered off by the scout law.

One time we had a mixed gender tent with about 8 of them in it, a teepee, effectively, one parent was concerned enough to suggest, with a raised eyebrow, that they'd all be "at it like rabbits" as soon as my back was turned, as "that's what we did". Funnily enough, a chat about trust and responsibilities, that didn't happen. To be honest, every time we bring it up, usually our young people ask "what do you think we're like? Honestly? Why would you even do that? Eurgh!".

 

Maybe I've been lucky. Maybe we should give young people more credit.

 

That said, I've never, as a leader, moved from a single sex section to a mixed sex section, but I know leaders that have, and have found it difficult to adjust, so I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park, but if you're enjoying your scouting, why not carry on and give it a go, instead of stopping?

If you are “luckyâ€, I suspect it is the kind of luck one makes through hard work and preparation. But I offer the following observations.

 

“Two mixed gender teams of 5, aged 16-21.â€

 

It is not unusual for my troop to have anywhere between 40 and 60 boys on any given campout. We average 50-60 scouts at summer camp every summer. My experience is that the difficulties in supervision at any level vary exponentially with the number youth involved. 10 youth vs. 50 youth are worlds apart.

 

Also, a high proportion of those 50 or so scouts are aged 11-14. There is also a world of difference in the maturity level of 11-14 year olds and 16-21 year olds. Not to mention, those 18-21 are legally adults, which greatly relieves your liability and responsibility for a great many things.

 

Still further, we have a number of scouts with behavioral issues because of conditions like Asperger’s, autism, ADD, ADHD, ADD/ADHD, and a number of other things. I don’t know how much of that you are around, but it complicates everything.

 

“They were described by the assessor as two of the best teams they've ever had.â€

 

Then they are hardly typical, then, are they? Which makes them of limited usefulness for this type of example.

 

“I'm not really sure what there is to keep you up at night. But reality is a often a lot more boring than the imagination.â€

 

My reality is exciting enough, thank you. What keeps me up at night now are things like scouts wandering off into the woods away from camp when they aren’t supposed to and without adequate supervision. Scouts who don’t get to bed at lights out. Oh, and not to mention the illicit substance issue we had at a summer camp. Scouts who don’t follow safety precautions like they should. I don’t want to make it sound like our scouts are a bunch of juvenile delinquents, but as a matter of statistics when you have that many young people together you are going to have issues. And these things don’t happen all the time, but it might only take one incident to create a problem nobody ever gets over.

 

Throw girls in there, and the parents of those girls…how is that going to make any of that any better? I am not concerned about the periods at all. Most girls learn how to handle that quite quickly when they come of age. As for the sex issue, I understand the Scout Law etc., but apparently you missed all the threads on this board discussing how various people in the program fail to live up to it. Did you miss the last half of the thread on the sexual harassment behavior at the National Jamboree? Yes, sexual harassment would be a nice addition to other misbehavior that we have to occasionally deal with.

 

And, while sex would be a concern, that’s not necessarily all that there is, I suppose you know. What happens when a boy and a girl just wander off to smooch for a while? Somebody has to go find them, that’s what. And, again, 8 or 10 vs. 50…well, statistically speaking, chances are just that much higher that something happens, especially with the younger people.

 

“That said, I've never, as a leader, moved from a single sex section to a mixed sex section, but I know leaders that have, and have found it difficult to adjust, so I'm not saying it'll be a walk in the park, but if you're enjoying your scouting, why not carry on and give it a go, instead of stopping?â€

 

It amazes me how much people on the “pro†side just can’t seem to understand this—I would stop because it is no longer the program that I signed up for and it won’t accomplish the things that are the reasons I joined. If I had wanted to be in some coed variant of BSA I would be in Venturing. I am not. It’s just not the same program and Boy Scouts won’t be the same program after they introduce girls. 

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It amazes me how much people on the “pro†side just can’t seem to understand this—I would stop because it is no longer the program that I signed up for and it won’t accomplish the things that are the reasons I joined. If I had wanted to be in some coed variant of BSA I would be in Venturing. I am not. It’s just not the same program and Boy Scouts won’t be the same program after they introduce girls. 

 

Please many of us understand the frustration and disappointment . Let's see how many times the BSA program has become not the program I signed up for and ...

 

1972 - The Improved Scouting Program

Alternate rank requirements - I still hate that.

1988 -  Female troop leaders .  This opened the door to coed scouting.

Instant recognition - The Gimme, gimme change. What stupidity!

FCFY

Summit - the financially sustainable money-pit that 90% will never attend.

Adults required on patrol outings

Family Scouting

...

 

But here I am and other scouters too, because of our scouts.

 

My $0.02

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We've occasionally had mixed gender tents.

 

I think we've discussed this before, but from a U.S. perspective I find that amazing.  Unless all the people in the tent were siblings of each other (which I believe is ok YP-wise), having Scout-age youth in mixed-gender tents in this country would set off so many alarm bells that you could hear them over there.  :)

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1972 - The Improved Scouting Program

I think this is really more of an issue of which troop you were in.  I was a Boy Scout from 1969-1976 and I don't believe there was any reduction in the amount and variety of camping, hiking and backpacking that my troop did.  If anything there was a more "strenuous" program after that point - which was a result of what the leaders were encouraging the PLC to do when planning activities, and not anything that National did or didn't do.  Were parts of it silly and unnecessary?  Sure.  My favorite example was changing the "Scoutmaster's Conference" to a "Personal Growth Agreement Conference".  Even as a 14-year-old I realized how ridiculous that was.  But it didn't affect the program.  

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I know some SM's accuse venturing of wrecking their patrols. My experience, however, is troops with strong patrols don't have boys running off to Venturing.

I agree, if the troop program is strong, they aren't looking to change. We actually had several  scouts join Venturing while staying active in the troop program so they could get twice the adventure. Typically these were our more active scouts. So yes, they fit both programs in nicely. 

 

I admit that I was one of those insecure adults early in my Scoutmaster career afraid of the Venturing program. But as our troop matured, so did my attitude toward other programs. I come around and welcomed OA and Venturing. Some boys just can get enough of this scouting stuff, so I was glad other opportunities where available. As I matured and started working with other troop leaders, I tried to guide them that if the scouts were leaving for Venturing, their troop program was the problem, not Venturing.

 

But, successful Venturing programs were also hard to find in our area. The problem is generally the adults of lousy troop programs were the same adults of Venturing programs. And that just doesn't work well. The good Crews are still around. The not so good crews rarely made it past five years.

 

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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That problem exists now. But, it goes in both directions. I see some boys choose to be in a crew so that they can have a patrol in action, not in name only. Six to eight youth hiking and camping independently with their mates, by any other name ....

 

I know some SM's accuse venturing of wrecking their patrols. My experience, however, is troops with strong patrols don't have boys running off to Venturing.

 

I found this to be the case where the older boys went off to Venturing because they wanted to get away from having to be stuck with the younger boys and not have HA opportunities.  Maybe one of the reasons the tiered patrol method works for me is I don't insist on mixing the patrols.  If I started in Scouts it would be exciting at first but after 4 years of the same old, same old, and another three to go, I would seriously thinking about jumping to Venturing just to escape the younger boys and have an opportunity for activities more attuned to older scouts.  Now if my troop provided Venture Patrols, then the temptation would not be there.

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Please many of us understand the frustration and disappointment . Let's see how many times the BSA program has become not the program I signed up for and ...

 

1972 - The Improved Scouting Program

Alternate rank requirements - I still hate that.

1988 -  Female troop leaders .  This opened the door to coed scouting.

Instant recognition - The Gimme, gimme change. What stupidity!

FCFY

Summit - the financially sustainable money-pit that 90% will never attend.

Adults required on patrol outings

Family Scouting

...

 

But here I am and other scouters too, because of our scouts.

 

My $0.02

Crossing over from Webelos in '74, I recall many bitter senior scouts and scouters expressing their dislike for the ISP.  These are the ones that stuck with the program even though they hated what National had done.  

 

One particular bone of contention was the redesign of the Eagle patch.  It changed into the wordless "chicken in the messkit with red/white/blue grease" as one Eagle described it.   Some scouters with connections in the Far East had pretty accurate bootleg old school patches made. 

 

But overall, they disliked everything.  The anemic handbook.  The possibility that a scout could earn Eagle without requiring any camping, be it the skill award or the MB.  The flimsy new uniform.  Etc.

 

They stayed anyway.  And offered us young ones a program that resembled the one they came up under before ISP.   Still, there were many scouters that left and didn't come back.

Edited by desertrat77

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It is not unusual for my troop to have anywhere between 40 and 60 boys on any given campout. We average 50-60 scouts at summer camp every summer. My experience is that the difficulties in supervision at any level vary exponentially with the number youth involved. 10 youth vs. 50 youth are worlds apart.

Agreed. We took 57 this year to the Spanish National Jamboree, so we added in another 2000 they were interacting with. Fun! I think the largest unit I've camped with before that is 35 ish. Then again, I run a national camp for 400 every year, and you're right. In a small summer camp environment, you can cope with one or too, ummm, spirited? Wayward? Difficult? But yes, get a few more than that...and if they meet up and start working together...yes, it can make leaders lives difficult.

 

Still further, we have a number of scouts with behavioral issues because of conditions like Asperger’s, autism, ADD, ADHD, ADD/ADHD, and a number of other things. I don’t know how much of that you are around, but it complicates everything.

Yup, we have that too, and yes, it does cause extra complications.

 

My reality is exciting enough, thank you. What keeps me up at night now are things like scouts wandering off into the woods away from camp when they aren’t supposed to and without adequate supervision. Scouts who don’t get to bed at lights out. Oh, and not to mention the illicit substance issue we had at a summer camp. Scouts who don’t follow safety precautions like they should. I don’t want to make it sound like our scouts are a bunch of juvenile delinquents, but as a matter of statistics when you have that many young people together you are going to have issues.

I think I've had all of those, it seems to have become a thing for some of them to pull an all nighter on the last night of the week long summer camp, makes packing up a bit fraught on occasions. Of course, maybe dealing with 14-18 year olds mostly, they're that little bit more mature, and their role models in the unit are that much more mature, so you aren't dealing with those just starting to deal with lifes complications.

 

Throw girls in there, and the parents of those girls…how is that going to make any of that any better? I am not concerned about the periods at all. Most girls learn how to handle that quite quickly when they come of age. As for the sex issue, I understand the Scout Law etc., but apparently you missed all the threads on this board discussing how various people in the program fail to live up to it. Did you miss the last half of the thread on the sexual harassment behavior at the National Jamboree? Yes, sexual harassment would be a nice addition to other misbehavior that we have to occasionally deal with.

I was genuinely rather shocked by those reports. So much so I'm wondering how much I should encourage my girls to apply for the WSJ in two years time, but I would hope with that much more dilution with scouts from all over it won't raise its ugly head, and if it does, it's dealt with and stamped on.

 

And, while sex would be a concern, that’s not necessarily all that there is, I suppose you know. What happens when a boy and a girl just wander off to smooch for a while? Somebody has to go find them, that’s what.

A few years ago we had two lads who would constantly be disappearing off. A real pain in the behind when it was dinner time or time to have a chat about something or get ready for something and once again they were nowhere to be found

 

It amazes me how much people on the “pro†side just can’t seem to understand this—I would stop because it is no longer the program that I signed up for and it won’t accomplish the things that are the reasons I joined. If I had wanted to be in some coed variant of BSA I would be in Venturing. I am not. It’s just not the same program and Boy Scouts won’t be the same program after they introduce girls. 

Actually, I do understand, or, at least, I do have much sympathy. My former scout leaders, good leaders all, all three stopped volunteering when the scout section was made mandatory mixed. I think they had the same view as you, "not on my watch, I didn't sign up for this". The scout leaders that came after them just had to deal with it, it was what they signed up for. It's a very emotive subject, and you're a volunteer not a conscript, so if you don't feel it's for you anymore, that's ok. When our more junoir sections went coed, the internet hardly existed, and we couldn't find out other people's experiences who'd paddled the river ahead so easily. That's why I'm chipping in, I think.

 

I think we've discussed this before, but from a U.S. perspective I find that amazing.  Unless all the people in the tent were siblings of each other (which I believe is ok YP-wise), having Scout-age youth in mixed-gender tents in this country would set off so many alarm bells that you could hear them over there.   :)

Two countries separated by the same language or something. To be fair, it does raise eyebrows over here too sometimes. Meanwhile in Sweden it's totally normal. Bizarrely, quite often I've found it's the younger section's leaders that throw their hands up in horror, Beaver age, 6-8, but that might be because that's mostly mums running it who can't see their daughter sharing a tent or they only have sons so can't get their head round it. Our rules say girls and boys need a space to change in private. So all the boys get out while the girls change, and vice versa, or they change in the toilets, or they don't change. They work something out.

 

Ian

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Agreed. We took 57 this year to the Spanish National Jamboree, so we added in another 2000 they were interacting with. Fun! I think the largest unit I've camped with before that is 35 ish. Then again, I run a national camp for 400 every year, and you're right. In a small summer camp environment, you can cope with one or too, ummm, spirited? Wayward? Difficult? But yes, get a few more than that...and if they meet up and start working together...yes, it can make leaders lives difficult.

 

 

Yup, we have that too, and yes, it does cause extra complications.

 

 

I think I've had all of those, it seems to have become a thing for some of them to pull an all nighter on the last night of the week long summer camp, makes packing up a bit fraught on occasions. Of course, maybe dealing with 14-18 year olds mostly, they're that little bit more mature, and their role models in the unit are that much more mature, so you aren't dealing with those just starting to deal with lifes complications.

 

 

I was genuinely rather shocked by those reports. So much so I'm wondering how much I should encourage my girls to apply for the WSJ in two years time, but I would hope with that much more dilution with scouts from all over it won't raise its ugly head, and if it does, it's dealt with and stamped on.

 

 

A few years ago we had two lads who would constantly be disappearing off. A real pain in the behind when it was dinner time or time to have a chat about something or get ready for something and once again they were nowhere to be found

 

 

Actually, I do understand, or, at least, I do have much sympathy. My former scout leaders, good leaders all, all three stopped volunteering when the scout section was made mandatory mixed. I think they had the same view as you, "not on my watch, I didn't sign up for this". The scout leaders that came after them just had to deal with it, it was what they signed up for. It's a very emotive subject, and you're a volunteer not a conscript, so if you don't feel it's for you anymore, that's ok. When our more junoir sections went coed, the internet hardly existed, and we couldn't find out other people's experiences who'd paddled the river ahead so easily. That's why I'm chipping in, I think.

 

 

Two countries separated by the same language or something. To be fair, it does raise eyebrows over here too sometimes. Meanwhile in Sweden it's totally normal. Bizarrely, quite often I've found it's the younger section's leaders that throw their hands up in horror, Beaver age, 6-8, but that might be because that's mostly mums running it who can't see their daughter sharing a tent or they only have sons so can't get their head round it. Our rules say girls and boys need a space to change in private. So all the boys get out while the girls change, and vice versa, or they change in the toilets, or they don't change. They work something out.

 

" They work something out."  And there lies the answer.  You either "work it out" or you choose to go elsewhere.  Mentor, supervise the best you are able, and find viable solutions when challenged.  And if no realistic and workable solutions develop, then you go back and reevaluate and embark on another attempt.  That is where growth happens, or course changes get corrected.  

Ian

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