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Sentinel947

Co-ed scouting overseas

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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.

 

So does that mean you used to use some very large tents? 8-12 person tents? It is not uncommon for our Patrols to have double digit members so to sleep in the same tent would require a large tent - and one that would be rather difficult for new scouters to set up without adult or older scout assistance.

 

Our patrols today sleep in two-scout tents so in that respect, it would not be a change for us.

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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.

 

Why do they have to wait to join? Are you restricted on the size of your group?

 

I've heard the complaint that girls dominate the youth leadership in Scouts Canada troops (but I can't find my source right now). Do you see the same thing occurring in the UK?

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Why do they have to wait to join? Are you restricted on the size of your group?

Yes, a Beaver Colony (as we call a Tiger Cub pack) is normally limited to 24. We can take more by arrangement with our line manager, but I'm not sure how many do.

 

Cubs and Scouts can take more (as they do not require as much individual support as they get a bit older - in theory), and I think Explorers are only limited by the practicalities of their meeting place.

 

As a result, it is very common for groups here to have long waiting lists.

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So does that mean you used to use some very large tents? 8-12 person tents? It is not uncommon for our Patrols to have double digit members so to sleep in the same tent would require a large tent - and one that would be rather difficult for new scouters to set up without adult or older scout assistance.

 

Our patrols today sleep in two-scout tents so in that respect, it would not be a change for us.

In the UK Scout Patrols are usually made up of around 5 to 8 Scouts so they used to all fit in one tent.

 

Why do they have to wait to join? Are you restricted on the size of your group?

 

I've heard the complaint that girls dominate the youth leadership in Scouts Canada troops (but I can't find my source right now). Do you see the same thing occurring in the UK?

In the UK Beaver Colonies (ages 6 to 8) are usually have a maximum of 24 Beavers and are mostly oversubscribed. The fact is that Beaver numbers have grown from 108 000 in 2010 to 128 000 in 2017 but we can't open enough new Colonies fast enough to keep up with demand. This, unfortunately, means that most Colonies do have some kids old enough to be Beavers waiting for a space to open up.

 

I would not say that girls dominate youth leadership, they do make perfectly good Sixers and Patrol Leaders and maybe are slightly overrepresented in these roles but not to the extent that boys don't get a chance to lead and the good thing is both get to learn to lead people of both genders which is what they will have to do out in the real world as adults.

Edited by Peter1919

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I've heard the complaint that girls dominate the youth leadership in Scouts Canada troops (but I can't find my source right now). Do you see the same thing occurring in the UK?

Personally, I can't say that I have experienced this. At the moment, we try to rotate our Lodge Leaders so that everybody gets the experience at some point during their time with us. This is not the practice elsewhere though, but I can't really say for sure. I know that our Cubs had a girl Sixer fairly recently, but the other Sixers were all boys. I think the pack only had 3 or 4 girls at the time though.

Edited by lakes_stu

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In the UK Scout Patrols are usually made up of around 5 to 8 Scouts so they used to all fit in one tent.

Yep, the classic scout tent in the UK is made by Blacks of Greenock. They call it the Icelandic. Far less popular than they used to be in my experience (they are not cheap for one thing) but they last forever (IF they are properly looked after).

 

http://www.blacksofgreenock.co.uk/13-tents

Edited by lakes_stu

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Yep, the classic scout tent in the UK is made by Blacks of Greenock. They call it the Icelandic. Far less popular than they used to be in my experience (they are not cheap for one thing) but they last forever (IF they are properly looked after).

 

http://www.blacksofgreenock.co.uk/13-tents

Bit of a faff for a weekend camp but still brilliant for a full week away and difficult to beat.

 

And yes, built like tanks. The last one we binned was, we think, in excess of 40 years old. There's a couple more the same age still going strong!

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There is a joke that following the next ice age, scientists will initially find 2 things - fossils and Icelandic tents ;)

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Why do they have to wait to join? Are you restricted on the size of your group?

 

I've heard the complaint that girls dominate the youth leadership in Scouts Canada troops (but I can't find my source right now). Do you see the same thing occurring in the UK?

 

Pretty much every group at every age range has a waiting list. My troop runs at a maximum of 35. We set that simply that the main hall in the building we meet in will fit that number of kids in with space to still do something active. Beyond that it's just too crowded. At present we are full and of course we have those due to move up from cubs who we give priority to who will likely take the vast majority of places freed up when scouts move to explorers. In addition to those I have moving up from cubs I have 18 on a waiting list looking to join straight into scouts. Our neighbouring groups are in a similar state. A new troop opened in our district earlier this year. Went from 6 scouts night 1 to 24 scouts and a waiting list within a month. We can't open them fast enough.

 

We have never had a problem with one sex or the other dominating leadership positions. You could though allow it to happen at scout level if you weren't careful. In the 10-14 years age range I find, and this is a massive generalisation, that girls are more likely to get whatever you ask of them right first time. When things go wrong though I find boys are more likely to think on their feet successfully. Fail to pick up on the latter and girls could come to dominate. Thankfully while I, as SL, reserve the right to over ride the decision of the PLs Council it has been years since I last did so, and we operate on the PLC electing PLs and APLs and they always seem to make good decisions. 

Edited by Cambridgeskip

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We only have a couple of kids who are old enough to join Beavers who are having to wait thankfully. Our Cub pack and Scout troop actually have spaces (although we have a few Beavers due to move up soon).

 

However, there is a group near to us where it's 2 Beaver Colonies are full and they have over 60 waiting!!!

 

Sorry, straying off topic now.

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However, there is a group near to us where it's 2 Beaver Colonies are full and they have over 60 waiting!!!

 

Sorry, straying off topic now.

Maybe, maybe not. Either way it's called a high class problem.

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A Canadian perspective...

 

Our Troop is roughly 1/3 girls and we don't have any female leaders.  As far as I know there is no Scouts Canada policy requiring female leaders if girls are present, however, I have had the occasional parent say that although they trust us completely they would still like to see at least one female leader.   We do have plenty of female leaders at the Cub and Beaver level, so I expect those ones will eventually percolate up to the Scout level.

 

We enforce separate accommodations when possible but if we have to share a cabin, we make sure there are separate changing areas.  The camps we typically use have single stall outhouses, so that is not a problem.

 

 

Some general observations based on our Troop (your Troop is, of course, completely different so YMMV):

 

In terms of day to day interactions among the kids, the girls are definitely more organized and will often get selected for leadership tasks because of that.  However, they seem to often get into a "consensus trap" where they will spend way too much time trying to get unanimous approval for each decision.  This can lead to things taking much longer than needed.  In these situations the boys quickly become bored and will either just start with their first idea or be generally disruptive.

 

With the boys decisions are often made quickly, usually by some kind of vote or "I've done this before, so we'll do it like this" and they will go charging off.  If that idea doesn't work they quickly backtrack and try the next idea.  The process often looks like complete chaos especially since they are often laughing, ribbing each other etc. but then all of a sudden, they've completed their task.  Girls in this environment seem to get frustrated at the impulsiveness of decision making especially when a little analysis up front would prevent a few false starts.

 

At camps, regardless of how patrols are organized, during free time the girls and boys drift apart and do their own things.

 

When I was a Scout, it was still Boy Scouts in Canada and I have to admit that I liked having the time away from girls and we could all let loose without fear of embarrassment.   I'm disappointed that my son is not able to have that same experience.

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My group in the UK isn't part of the Scout Association (the one you've heard of), we're in the Baden-Powell Scout Association. Some of you may recognise the initials BPSA. Our program is here: https://www.traditionalscouting.co.ukWithin the last five years we were in the Scout Association, so I've seen it from two sides. Both associations are co-ed.

 

We've had female leaders since BP was around, so no change there. I work mainly with the Wolf Cubs (8-11). In a Pack of 24, we have 4 girls. I spread them round the Sixes. With girls of that kind of age you can get friendship issues, particularly if there are odd numbers. So, A, B and C go on camp as best friends. Within one night B loves C and doesn't want to talk to A, who is left out. A then talks to C and they exclude B. Then Akela gives them a serious talking-to and they get along OK until the end of Camp. Disagreements in the boys usually begin and end with a bit of pushing and shoving, which is easy to pick up on and easy to stop. Having girls around means you have to be tuned in to emotion. Believe me, it's a valuable life skill!

 

The boys' tents are regarded as somewhere to sleep and dump dirty clothes (we also use Icelandics, so it's 6-8 per tent). The girls tent is neat, tidy, often with coloured bunting and full of soft toys. They really are that stereotypical. We separate by gender for sleeping, but on Camp tend not to use the Sixes we have for normal meetings, to get even groups. I don't know how things work in US early schools, but here it is unusual for schools for children younger than 11 to have changing rooms. So, all our kids are used to stripping down to their underwear, in their classroom, in front of their friends, before and after PE classes. ?None of our parents cares if their children sleep in mixed tents, and we've asked them all.

 

We have a thriving Girl Guide unit in our area. We have lost one girl to them in the last three years because our program didn't have enough cooking. We then gained her sister from Brownies because she wanted to do the outdoorsy stuff. We have made no compromises to the program, as far as I can see. We do what we do, and you're welcome to join in. We recruit different kinds of people, and the desires of the parents for gender isolation don't go far when they come up against a boy or girl who doesn't want to be in the group.

 

Safeguarding is safeguarding, regardless of the age or gender of the child. People who are concerned about how they'll respond to the company of a 12-year-old girl need to go away and give their heads a wobble.

 

I guess if you want a male-only environment, then your options are limited and becoming more so. Even our rugby club has a ladies' team now. As an ex-infanteer, I was happy to go to our local mother and baby group when I gave up my job to look after our kids, because my wife was earning more than I was. It takes a Real Man to wear pink.

 

Part of our role as Scouting leaders is to prepare our young people for the world they will be growing up in, not the one we might like them to grow up in. I don't teach Cubs how to build a bridge across a stream with poles and rope because one day they might have to do that, but because one day they will definitely need to work as a team with people who have different skill sets than they do, or no skills at all. By the time they're 11 our lot will have been introduced to map reading and navigation, shooting, first aid, how to look after and repair their clothes, how to grow plants for food and the importance of keeping fit. Thankfully we also have a female leader who can teach them the creative stuff that I'm rubbish at, so they get a rounded program. We tend to leave the stuff they do in school, at school.

 

From the outside the BSA plan looks destined to fail. You are unlikely to have enough girls join all together for you to be able to set up separate groups. Those who try will run it for a couple of years then give up, unless they're particularly persistent. These groups will then either close or integrate with the boys. Then your real discussions will start.

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I would like to thank y'all foreigners for discussing the mechanics of making these mixed gender potentialities work. It will benefit those who have to deal with the program changes--probably better than what BSA will come up with.

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