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Sentinel947

Co-ed scouting overseas

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In American Boy Scouts we have a set of youth protection policies mostly to prevent a repeat of institution wide sexual abuse of minors. I think Schiff is referring to the UK equivalent of that.

These days we have the "yellow card". And all adults that have unsupervised access to young people have to have a background check.

https://members.scouts.org.uk/supportresources/3099/young-people-first-code-of-practice-yellow-card?cat=419,299,304

 

Basically everything that was supposed to apply to boys (and yes, we've had our share of unsavouries in the past, and no doubt some will still creep out the woodwork in the future) now applies to boys and girls.

 

There's things like "no inappropriate contact" on that card. In the past I've had to comfort teary boys and girls, yes, aged 15-16, who've being having real life difficulties that all come out when they're super tired after 4-5 days on camp. A comforting arm round the shoulder is still fine, whatever the gender.

Sometimes you get a group who are very physical, touchy-feely if you will. At the end of summer camp this year, a fair proportion of them, boys and girls, unprompted, came and gave me hug, said thankyou, and went on their way. The parents looking on, well, I don't know what they thought, but they seemed ok with it, as I say, the actions were not prompted by me.

Other times it's just a cheery wave goodbye, and that's fine too.

 

My question is actually fairly similar. With Co-ed Scouting comes the management of teenage hormones...I feel like foreign Scouts would be just as similar as American ones. Are there rules in the TSA UK that address this?

Ahh, yes, now, as I deal with the 14-18 age range, yes, it's something I have to consider.

For me, everything comes back to the scout law. A scout is to be trusted.

 

We have had "couples" on camp, and some leaders were running scared. I had to buy, at a leader's request, condoms for the first aid kit "just in case". I thought it was an overreaction. We had standing rules that "couples" couldn't be in a tent on their own and weren't to go off into the bushes etc. I was having a beer with the lad in that couple years later, he laughed and said "not a chance I'd have got that far with her".

Still, yes, I've probably terrified you now. That's once in 15 years now. These days they all seem to be friends, or they're hiding it well, so they're happy just to hang out and poke the fire. But it'll happen again I'm sure, and we'll deal with it best we can, not usually much of an issue.

 

When we bought some teepee type tents, and had mixed groups of explorers in them, one parent was shrilly alarmed that they'd all be "at it like rabbits" as soon as our backs were turned. It just doesn't seem to work like that.

 

I have had camps (most of the time in fact) where I haven't mixed genders in the same tents, it just depends on the situation and the kids.

 

Again, once in 15 years I've had to have a quiet word with a lad who was creeping out the girls. He was genuine special needs though, so autistic on top of raging hormones.

 

And yes, we take sanitary products on camp now, mostly they deal with that sort of thing themselves between each other. But there's always a first time, and it's a bit of a shock for them when it happens on camp.

 

To me, it's all part of life's rich pageant. I'm helping young people grow up, and sometimes there's some strife, but most of the time it's a privilege.

 

Ian

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US Venture Crews are co-ed and ages 14-21, the absolute worst age group for raging hormones, and I have not heard of issues with Crews.

 

To be fair, a SM buddy was telling me of a problem he was having with an older gay boy scout who was hitting on a younger lad at a camp out. He was rebuffed and retaliated by stripping the boy of POR duties. Stalking etc followed (and things went down hill from there, police, counselors, etc, etc). So even Boys only issues of sexual misconduct do occur and have to be dealt with. I think rules will need to be tweaked...especially the first few years.

 

I do think the social dynamic will change. When Camp Woodruff started using Venture girls in the camp store our boys (of all ages) seemed to visit the stores a lot more than previously. 

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First a little background. I was a Venture Scout Leader, which in the UK was co-ed from some time in the 70s, the other younger sections were not co-ed until after I was a leader, 1991 apparently. So I've not been a leader of single gender sections, but I've been around while they changed from "boys" to "co-ed".

 

I'm pretty sure I'm not understating it, but I genuinely don't think the programme as documented changed at all, I mean, apart from changing references to "boys" to the rather more prosaic "young people".

We always had badges like "home help", and ones that involved learning to sew, alongside things like shooting and hiking and camping.

I don't think any awards were "dumbed down" or had their standards lowered when girls started joining.

 

I found an awesome site...

 

http://www.scoutcollecting.co.uk/

Which lists all the badges over time for the sections. Badges come in and out of favour, and you could probably find something to suit your argument either way in there.

 

I don't think, from what I see in the younger sections, that it's any more "girly" than it used to be. I really can't remember much about when I was in cubs, but what I do remember was being out doing stuff.

It's possible that girls might do more stereotypically girl things for badges like "hobbies". But on the other hand, the cub pack that meets right before us has some girls in, and sometimes you'll walking and they're all making bird boxes, or one astounding occasion, flat pack furniture!

 

Two weeks ago I handed out a "100 nights away" badge to one of my Explorers, it so happens they're a she.

 

 

 

Well, that's more difficult for me to answer, as allowing female "cub mistresses" predates even me. It's not unfair to say adult recruitment is as ever a problem. In the youngest section Beavers (aged 6-8) it's not unfair to say it's mostly mums, as they're more traditionally at home at 5pm or so when they meet.

In Explorers I've never really tried to recruit female leaders. In some units we happen to have some, and in some it happens we don't.

Not much help I know.

 

 

I think it's safe to say "none". I think from what I gather, Girlguiding in the UK is generally like GSUSA...."girly". In Explorers it's not uncommon for me to get some guides crossing over because they no longer enjoy guides.

In terms of pure numbers, Girlguiding don't seem to release census numbers, but they say they have around 500,000, which is a little more than scouts.

 

Also, while hunting around, I found this training material which was introduced when we went co-ed in the lower sections...

 

https://members.scouts.org.uk/documents/girlstm.pdf

 

Lots of dead links but might be useful.

Very good info. Why BSA National didn't put something like this out yesterday is beyond me!

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My group took girls in 2007 along with all other UK groups.

 

What changed? 1 thing.

 

I stopped saying 'gentlemen' when addressing them. Other than that?

 

Nothing really.

 

I try to remember to provide for their periods. (So we have emergency girly products and a bin where needed)

 

We give them shared space for changing and normally their own sleeping space but sometimes they all pile in together. If there is only one room, they all bunk in together. (and hey. Naughtiness won't happen in a busy room/ tent! That will go in in the woods)

 

Everything else is the same. Same programme, same camps, same fun...

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In American Boy Scouts we have a set of youth protection policies mostly to prevent a repeat of institution wide sexual abuse of minors. I think Schiff is referring to the UK equivalent of that. 

 

My question is actually fairly similar. With Co-ed Scouting comes the management of teenage hormones. When I was in High School band, they would put us in hotel rooms based on gender. (All male and female rooms.) They would actually put duct tape on the outside of the doors, so they would know if you tried to leave the room to go mingle with the opposite genders at night without supervision. I feel like foreign Scouts would be just as similar as American ones. Are there rules in the TSA UK that address this?

 

To answer this from the younger 10-14 perspective....

 

The rules are that boys and girls need separate changing and washing facilities but are allowed to sleep in the same tent or room. In practice it is quite rare for that to happen. We've only ever done it at the end of a night hike and they all crash on the floor of our HQ and once on an over night ferry when it was rooms of 4 and the ratios didn't work out to be entirely separate. The troop has a selection of 2,3 4 and 6 man tents which they distribute depending on the make up of a particular patrol so that they have boy and girl tents. There's been the occasional "sleep over" where someone has been playing cards or talking to their mates in the other tent and has fallen asleep in there. But no harm done and I've seen no reason to intervene.

 

We too have had the occasional couple but the kids manage it themselves. We've had no problems with PDAs or sneaking off. It all just works out.

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What are the ratios of boys, girls, men, and women in the 11+ age ranges of UK scouts?

 

One of my concerns is finding women that want to do the more challenging events. We've had moms that will go on one or two and then they're done with that while the dads love it.

 

One thing that sounds different in the UK are the ages of the adult leaders, some of which are not adults. (I hate to say it but when the UK scouts talk about back in the day when they were scouts they're talking about the 90s whereas this forum, and BSA in general, seems to have a lot more, ahem, maturity.) Given that the ages of each type of scouts (beavers to network) is about 3-4 years and we have scouts from 11-18, it's different. It sounds like scouts from one age level can help lead at a lower level. Is that true? and does it happen very much? If so then the issue I see coming wouldn't happen in the UK.

 

My other concern is whether there are enough girls to form viable units. In big towns I don't see a problem but small towns is different.

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What are the ratios of boys, girls, men, and women in the 11+ age ranges of UK scouts?

 

One of my concerns is finding women that want to do the more challenging events. We've had moms that will go on one or two and then they're done with that while the dads love it.

 

One thing that sounds different in the UK are the ages of the adult leaders, some of which are not adults. (I hate to say it but when the UK scouts talk about back in the day when they were scouts they're talking about the 90s whereas this forum, and BSA in general, seems to have a lot more, ahem, maturity.) Given that the ages of each type of scouts (beavers to network) is about 3-4 years and we have scouts from 11-18, it's different. It sounds like scouts from one age level can help lead at a lower level. Is that true? and does it happen very much? If so then the issue I see coming wouldn't happen in the UK.

 

My other concern is whether there are enough girls to form viable units. In big towns I don't see a problem but small towns is different.

 

Quick answer as about to head out to scouts myself, others may pad it out more.

 

Over all the ratio of young people is about 22% girls if I remember right with a slightly higher number in the older age ranges. Groups that were coed before they had to be tend to have more girls. So we run at about 40% at any one time.

 

For adults I'm not sure what the ratios are but full strength my troop can call on 12 adults of which 5 are women.

 

And yes we have the Young Leader scheme. So 14-17 year old explorer scouts can help at Beavers, Cubs or Scouts. I currently have two 15 year old explorers that come along to scouts.

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What are the ratios of boys, girls, men, and women in the 11+ age ranges of UK scouts?

 

One of my concerns is finding women that want to do the more challenging events. We've had moms that will go on one or two and then they're done with that while the dads love it.

 

One thing that sounds different in the UK are the ages of the adult leaders, some of which are not adults. (I hate to say it but when the UK scouts talk about back in the day when they were scouts they're talking about the 90s whereas this forum, and BSA in general, seems to have a lot more, ahem, maturity.) Given that the ages of each type of scouts (beavers to network) is about 3-4 years and we have scouts from 11-18, it's different. It sounds like scouts from one age level can help lead at a lower level. Is that true? and does it happen very much? If so then the issue I see coming wouldn't happen in the UK.

 

My other concern is whether there are enough girls to form viable units. In big towns I don't see a problem but small towns is different.

We run mixed camps with single sex leadership teams.

 

We do often.

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I am Leader in the UK in an Explorer Scout Unit (ages 14 to 18). Our Unit has always had both girls and boys as members but our Scout Group's Scout Troop went mixed sex as well back in 2005. I can say that the way the Scout Troop does things has not changed due to having girls in the proceeding 12 years apart from we usually have separate tents for girls and boys to sleep in on camps and separate dormitories for each on indoor residential, oh and we put a bin in the toilet tents now. The UK Scout Association released some guidance/FAQs in around 2006 when they announced that all Sections would be going mixed sex which can be found at http://members.scouts.org.uk/documents/AdultSupport/devfuninsfin/omwt.pdf. The difference is that we went down the route of mixed sex Sections rather than separate boys and girls sections as it seems BSA are going for currently.

 

We have run camps with girls on it but no female Leaders on occasion and it has never caused an issue and in fact the last time this happened I paid it so little thought I never even noticed we were doing so until someone pointed it out after the event. In the unlikely event that a female Scout has their period and can't sort it out themselves then, as a modern man, I am perfectly happy to deal with that as its just another natural bodily function. We have a supply of generic pads which the girls know where to find which usually means we don't need to get involved any way.

 

Our Explorer Unit hasn't always had both female and male Leaders, and it doesn't cause an issue and no Explorer or any of their parents has ever raised this as an issue. I am more bothered about having enough good Leaders than what gender they happen to be.

 

As to dealing with relationships between Scouts, we generally ask them to keep public displays of affection within Scouting to a minimum and are clear with them that it would be inappropriate for them to share sleeping accommodation on Scouting events and trust them to stick to this and have never had any real issue with relationships in the 14 years I have been an Explorer Scout Leader.

 

Feel free to ask any questions you like and I will endeavour to answer them

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To answer this from the younger 10-14 perspective....

 

The rules are that boys and girls need separate changing and washing facilities but are allowed to sleep in the same tent or room. In practice it is quite rare for that to happen. We've only ever done it at the end of a night hike and they all crash on the floor of our HQ and once on an over night ferry when it was rooms of 4 and the ratios didn't work out to be entirely separate. The troop has a selection of 2,3 4 and 6 man tents which they distribute depending on the make up of a particular patrol so that they have boy and girl tents. There's been the occasional "sleep over" where someone has been playing cards or talking to their mates in the other tent and has fallen asleep in there. But no harm done and I've seen no reason to intervene.

 

We too have had the occasional couple but the kids manage it themselves. We've had no problems with PDAs or sneaking off. It all just works out.

To answer this from the even younger 6-8 perspective. The rules are exactly as @@Cambridgeskip says. However, it probably happens more often with Beavers, as we often run sleepovers in church halls and similar spaces. We have a couple of tents that can be pitched indoors, but not enough for the whole colony. When we have 'District' sleepovers there can be about 100 Beavers all in the one room (changing space in segregated toilets). The adults always sleep in a separate room and come to an arrangement regarding changing.

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One of my concerns is finding women that want to do the more challenging events. We've had moms that will go on one or two and then they're done with that while the dads love it.

Could you focus on providing the bulk of the team from the keener Dad's, and perhaps have some kind of rota for when you need a Mum?

 

My other concern is whether there are

enough girls to form viable units. In big towns I don't see a problem but small towns is different.

I can understand this. Our colony has 19 boys and only 5 girls. I don't know the exact details of what BSA is planning as yet, but is there any chance that girls could be allowed to join a Den with boys? Edited by lakes_stu

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OK UK folks, play devil's advocate for me. If you had to argue against co-ed scouting, what would be your primary argument? I am in favor of the change but would very much like to hear from those that have been through this, what is your biggest gripe?

  • Upvote 1

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@@Hawkwin, that's a tough one. I didnt join as a leader until after co-ed was universal. I really dont know any different. I do remember when I was a Cub and Scout though. It was a lot of fun then, but its just as much fun now. So from me at least there are no regrets.

 

I do get peeved with parents tear a strip off me about their son having to wait to join because (and I quote) 'the girls have taken all the places'. This tends to come from parents who are least likely to step up and volunteer.

Edited by lakes_stu

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About the only slight negative I can think of is that we used to have Scouts sleep in one tent with the rest of their Patrol and with the PL in charge of the tent and looking after all their Patrol. Now we often have an extra tent or tents for girls which means the PL is not in the same tent as all of their Patrol.

 

This is really not a massive problem though and has not caused us any great issues but it does slightly reduce the role of a PL. If we really wanted to we could just have girls and boys share tents so long as they and their parents were all happy with this arrangement.

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