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The Question That Reveals the Heart of the "BSA" Culture Wars

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9 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

That's what I'm trying to put my finger on.  Just what kinds of things should we do in our program to make sure we're teaching these young men to be masculine?

Read the article for context of the subject.

Barry

 

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One aspect of "learning to be a good man" that I see in our troop learning to work as a team to get a job done. The boys learn to get along with new guys that are difficult to deal with, as the bonds between the boys grow things become less difficult and the boys start to see that troublesome former new guy as a welcome resource to the team.  The guys state their beliefs and views on the world and have to defend them when they get called out by someone that feels different.  The guys keep things friendly, because they are close friends after all, they know the other boys have their backs. It is a safe place for them to sort out their life so far and share their thoughts on the state of the world.

The journey of "learning to be a good man" never ends, I continue to sort myself out.  It is a process that I learned from being a scout, it stuck with me.

Every generation of scout will be different from the last as the world changes, they will bring to scouting their own experiences that will add to what the other boys bring.

Scouts need to learn to observe the world, think about what is right and wrong and sort themselves out. 

Edited by cocomax
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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

I'm still somewhat lost on the specifics here.  I like facts & figures - probably why I'm a CC. 

I still have a "boys only" Boy Scout troop. I've got an opportunity to focus on teaching these guys to be masculine.  What things should we be doing to help ensure that?

I would focus on the skills that the program asks us to cover, namely the outdoor skills. While they are not necessarily masculine or feminine, they are the core of the program. Focus on the quality of your leadership training. Focus on the quality and depth of your Trail to First Class program. Institute and adhere to the Patrol Method. Emphasize the journey and not the destination. Make sure parents are (silently) involved and not taking opportunities away from the Scout to live, succeed, fail, learn and grow. Provide good adult role models (both male and female). Live the Oath and Law in your events and make things special.

Do all of that and you will end up with what you seek.

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Thanks for the feedback so far.  This is helpful.

To provide some more context.  I've got no idea what's going to happen with our troop in a year or two.  Will we be co-ed, will we be boys only, no idea.  I'm not concerned with either outcome as we'll adjust and run the best program we can.  When I read the original article, my thought was "yep, makes sense."  I've got a son and two daughters.  I don't really raise them differently - that all get the same feedback and opportunities from me.  I teach my daughters how to use power tools and my bring my son to the ballet.  But, I can clearly see there is a biological component to their behavior and development.  I'd be lying if I said there was not.  So, as a parent, I walk a line.  I encourage their natural traits, but provide every opportunity to cross-train (so to speak).

Again, when I read the article, I felt like "yep, this makes sense".  However, it's written like so many other articles of this type - it's a lot of identification of the problem, some hand wringing about how we're going off the rails as a society, and then very little about what to do about it.  So, I'm stuck.

As a Scouter, I only have to guide a program for boys today.  So, I don't have to worry about how my program today addresses the traits and needs of girls yet.  Again, that may change someday, but it isn't my concern right now.  So, I feel like I'm the position to do something about the masculinity question.

We do what you describe Tampa Turtle.  Yet, I also notice that many of our most active volunteers are moms.  In fact, just about every committee position is a mother.  Dads tend to be ASMs.  But, most of them are pretty busy and are not all that active.  So, I'm wondering if we're really all that masculine as a unit.  It's honestly the moms that are pushing the troop to do things.  They don't want to micromanage the boys - but they want to see the boys doing stuff.  The moms are honestly way more into boy led than the dads.  If our troop was run by the dads alone, we'd show up in the parking lot on a Friday afternoon and wing every camping trip.  Honestly, the adults in our troop are a lot like the way that folks describe many venture crews.  The moms get stuff done.  The dads just kinda show up.

So, this brings me back to the basic question.  if we wanted to make sure we're promoting our boy's masculine traits, just what would you do?  The teamwork idea makes a lot of sense to me.  Another I've thought of is fostering competition that drives teamwork.  Another is pushing the boys to take more leadership roles on.

 

 

 

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1 minute ago, ParkMan said:

The moms get stuff done.  The dads just kinda show up.

My experience has been that moms get stuff done...but usually end up taking away a learning opportunity from the boys. Dads do this too, but not with the frequency of the moms.

I would think as long as the boys are using the Patrol Method and executing the program -- if that means it is not done to the efficiency of the moms or dads -- then that's what you want.

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50 minutes ago, ParkMan said:

We do what you describe Tampa Turtle.  Yet, I also notice that many of our most active volunteers are moms.  In fact, just about every committee position is a mother.  Dads tend to be ASMs.  But, most of them are pretty busy and are not all that active.  So, I'm wondering if we're really all that masculine as a unit.  It's honestly the moms that are pushing the troop to do things.  They don't want to micromanage the boys - but they want to see the boys doing stuff.  The moms are honestly way more into boy led than the dads.  If our troop was run by the dads alone, we'd show up in the parking lot on a Friday afternoon and wing every camping trip.  Honestly, the adults in our troop are a lot like the way that folks describe many venture crews.  The moms get stuff done.  The dads just kinda show up.

So, this brings me back to the basic question.  if we wanted to make sure we're promoting our boy's masculine traits, just what would you do?  The teamwork idea makes a lot of sense to me.  Another I've thought of is fostering competition that drives teamwork.  Another is pushing the boys to take more leadership roles on.

 

What you have there is a case of the men being men. Men do not want to upset the ladies,  if the ladies are getting things done the men just back off and fade away and let the ladies run things.    

A grand experiment would be to let your troop  have a dad trip were the dad's show up on Friday afternoon and just wing a camping trip, that could be a grand adventure. See how it goes. See if the boys have less fun or more fun.

 

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14 minutes ago, cocomax said:

What you have there is a case of the men being men. Men do not want to upset the ladies,  if the ladies are getting things done the men just back off and fade away and let the ladies run things.    

A grand experiment would be to let your troop  have a dad trip were the dad's show up on Friday afternoon and just wing a camping trip, that could be a grand adventure. See how it goes. See if the boys have less fun or more fun.

 

Cocomax has a good grasp of the intended context of this subject. The intent isn't to change a boys masculinity, but instead to give him and environment where he learns how control his masculinity within the boundaries of the Scout Oath and Law by making multiple decisions. Some here believe that everyone is from Venus and nobody is from Mars. But the context of the this discussion assumes that boys and girls are different. The objective is to help boys learn how to control their behavior when they are mixed in within the chaos of different behaviors, lifestyles and ideals of the world. 

Anyone who has been a coach for 14 year old sports teams of both genders understands how much their biological changes effect their behaviors, and how differently effects are between the two genders. So, keeping the genders independent in the program during this stage in their life helps make the task of building boys into men, or girls into women, less challenging. Of course there are those who disagree, but this thread isn't about the debate, those who disagree with the article or how the article fits within the context of the scout program can certainly start another discussion for balance.

As many here are saying, the outdoor program and the patrol method provide plenty of challenges that forces a boy to see his limitations of behavior and the changes required to stay within the limits of the Scout Oath and Law. Stick with the basic patrol method outdoor program that gives scouts the independence to makes decisions and measure the consequences against the law and oath, and your program is good to go.

I also agree that women leaders in general behave differently toward leadership in this program than men. But without defining the differences (because it's not important), we should understand that biological nature (instinct) at this age drives youth to learn faster from observing role models of their own gender. That can be a challenge for a unit, so we just do the best we can with the resources provided to us. But, that biological drive is the only reason why I prefer the SM be of the same gender of the scouts when ever possible.

Barry

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19 hours ago, ParkMan said:

If our troop was run by the dads alone, we'd show up in the parking lot on a Friday afternoon and wing every camping trip.

Hah! Sounds like my household as of late. My wife recently sent me an 8 page google doc link with plans for our next vacation.

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41 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Hah! Sounds like my household as of late. My wife recently sent me an 8 page google doc link with plans for our next vacation.

I have never given my wife a "honey do list",  but she has given them to me in the past.  I wonder if writing lists of things for men to do  is a common thing for women, but men for some reason don't do the same to their wives. 

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On 1/30/2018 at 10:47 AM, cocomax said:

The article points to the popularity of Jordan Peterson,   Jordan Peterson has said many times that the young men who flock to him are hungry for responsibility in a world that scream for rights. 

My question is do young men view BSA as a group to join that would aid them to grow in good character and learn to be responsible or do young men view BSA has something else?

At a time when young men need something like the BSA more than ever how come they are not flocking to join?

 

Video games and year round sports.  

Edited by perdidochas
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On 1/31/2018 at 1:21 PM, ParkMan said:

I agree that these are the things we do today.  My bigger point though is that I think the movement needs to regroup a bit.  We're I in charge of things, I'd do three things:

- clarify the program.  There needs to be much clearer guidance on how to implement much of this stuff.  There should not be arguments on wherther the scouts or the adults should buy tents.  This kind of thing ought to be more clearly spec'd out.

- improve the mechanics.  Just about every troop has boring troop meetings.  It's great that some troop has this figured out. It needs to get captured, distilled, and rolled out.  Not the hokey program notes kinds stuff.  But a real, simple recipe that even I cannot mess us.

- improve training for volunteers.  I'm not talking about the "so you're a new ASM class".  There needs to be a real continuing education program for leaders.

 

 

I agree of clarifiying and improving training.  I learned very little in the Boy Scout level training.  That said, there were people in the training classes with me that learned a lot, and they needed a lot more.  

 

Boring troop meetings are sometimes a consequence of SPLs learning their jobs.  There is no recipe that will work for all troops, as each troop has it's own set of peculiar personalities.  

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20 hours ago, Col. Flagg said:

My experience has been that moms get stuff done...but usually end up taking away a learning opportunity from the boys. Dads do this too, but not with the frequency of the moms.

I would think as long as the boys are using the Patrol Method and executing the program -- if that means it is not done to the efficiency of the moms or dads -- then that's what you want.

The moms in my troop do things like order t-shirts and help with fundraising. Their choice has been to leave the outdoorsy stuff up to the male leadership.  So, I disagree totally with the idea that men don't get stuff done.  

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25 minutes ago, cocomax said:

I have never given my wife a "honey do list",  but she has given them to me in the past.  I wonder if writing lists of things for men to do  is a common thing for women, but men for some reason don't do the same to their wives. 

You are lucky, my wife assumes I can read her mind. :blink:

Barry

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Thanks for all the thoughts in response to my last set of questions on this.  My basic thinking going in was that there would be things we can make sure we do in a troop's program that will put the boys in situations that develop these traits.  I do see the other line of thinking - that it's the myriad interactions and decisions a scout makes in the context of simply being in the program that do that.  That's something for me to think about.

BTW - I hope that no one misunderstands my comments about the mom's being involved.  I'm very appreciative for what they do and am glad to have them.  Some of my absolutely favorite Scouters are moms.  If anything, it was just thinking through the idea that mom's in the program have an impact on this topic too.  It just got me to wondering if perhaps there were some things we'd stopped doing along the way that maybe we didn't even realize.

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