Jump to content

Recommended Posts

This discussion is really about what Scouting ought to be, and although the religion discussion is on one level a distraction, on another it is very core. Someone who I respect described Scouting as "Where the kids of rich white guys get ahead". It has a reputation, however undeserved, of being an exclusive club for the male children of more affluent, predominantly white, predominantly Christian parents.

My father was a Scoutmaster in post WW2 inner city Bristol. This was a city that was pretty much leveled by bombing and poor areas of the city were incredibly deprived. He saw Scouting as the perfect vehicle to give these kids opportunities that were completely inaccessible to them, to be in nature and the outdoors and learn life skills and leadership, respect for others and reverence for the institutions and natural world around him. After he ended his Scouting career he went on to organize camps in the 1970's and 1980's for protestant and catholic youth from Londonderry in Northern Ireland, to give them a chance to escape the ongoing civil war and learn respect for each other.

Someone here said that Scouting would benefit from "making it easy" Easy to join, easy to stay. I see that making it easy to complete the damm paperwork as important, as I do removing other barriers to joining, be that religion or access to equipment or whatever. I completely agree with making it easy for anyone to join, and to stay, but putting in the institutional change to actually make that true, then getting the word out.

FWIW UK Scouting wrestled with this recently. ""It is part of a concerted drive by the Scouts to widen their appeal, defeat a stereotype that scouting is only for white, middle-class people and rebuild its previously deep connections in cities where it used to promote scouting as a way to learn skills to beat unemployment.". They are almost back to their peak membership of the 1990's.

  • Like 1
  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 155
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

You are likely to hear/read a post-modern nomad say, "Adulting is hard." But, they are also doing some astounding things: Serving multiple tours in military reserves. Learning busin

Bear in mind that my youth scouting was in the UK, while my adult leadership is in the US. My observation tends to agree. Much as I love the Eagle program, and the merit badge programs, I see a lot of

Same here, well except the other half sounds like the bad advice I gave them.

3 minutes ago, qwazse said:

As a practical matter this means scouting can't grow numerically if it is one thing. I foresee an American Federation of Scouting Organizations of which BSA would be one part, cooperating with others.

That's an interesting suggestion.

Barry

Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, qwazse said:

As I've mentioned before, it is more helpful to refer to this broad range young adults as post-modern nomads. That encapsulates their outlook quite accurately.

As I went to morning coffee with my grandson on my back, we heard the click and remote-start of a car. I explained to him that in our day we opened the door and sat down before starting the engine. Not sure how much he understood of that, but my scoutmaster minute to you is that these generations are ready to go before the door is even unlocked. A lot of institutions previously relied on generations of members willing to mold to them. A post-modern nomad seeks out organizations who mold to him/her.

As a practical matter this means scouting can't grow numerically if it is one thing. I foresee an American Federation of Scouting Organizations of which BSA would be one part, cooperating with others.

Exactly.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, UKScouterInCA said:

Organized religion is only at the core of US Scouting (note, not World Scouting) because Scouts BSA has chosen to make it so. The only part of US Scouting where it is explicit is in the Oath.

The Scouts BSA Mission Statement is: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. (NB - One can make ethical choices without partaking in an organized religion)

A Scout is Reverent (definition of Reverent is: feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.)

Only the Oath makes mention of "To do my duty to God" which is an inherently JudeoChristian way of describing ones religion and in itself exclusionary of other religions. I know ScoutsBSA say that other religions are allowed, but the language choice in the oath is not accommodating. Regardless, oaths can change. For example, UK Scouting now has alternate oaths including one for atheists.

At the risk of getting off the thread topic, while the particular statement of religious principle varies by each NSO, the "Duty to God" element is a core principle at the global level. (https://www.scout.org/node/614310)

Admittedly, WOSM and many of the European orgs use the language of "the relationship to the spiritual life and spiritual reality" as a way to explain "Duty to God" in the oath, to avoid misunderstanding it as having a preference for Abrahamic monotheism. And while traditional religious identities still have priority as the default understanding of what that means, "Spirituality is also used in reference to the human spirit, to the emergence of the true self. It may be expressed in religious, agnostic, and atheist forms."

That isn't much different than how the BSA understands it, really. There's no requirement to belong to a religion (all of which are "organized"). Most U.S. atheists seem to define atheism as "no position on religious questions but open to spirituality" which is more traditionally "agnosticism" - and that isn't as problematic to the Scouting value of reverence/duty to God as is atheism as "rejection of all religions, people who believe in religions are stupid, and there should be none of that spirituality nonsense in public/Scouts/whatever, don't talk about religions in scouting please" - not a lot of room for reverence / respect for others' beliefs in that. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, qwazse said:

As I went to morning coffee with my grandson on my back, we heard the click and remote-start of a car. I explained to him that in our day we opened the door and sat down before starting the engine. Not sure how much he understood of that, but my scoutmaster minute to you is that these generations are ready to go before the door is even unlocked. A lot of institutions previously relied on generations of members willing to mold to them. A post-modern nomad seeks out organizations who mold to him/her.

First off, I'm not cutting out text to change the narrative. Seems we need to say that these days.

Two questions come to mind with your post qwazse. First, my observation is that parents for 90 percent of the scouts make the choice for the kids to join scouting. So, I'm wondering how fits in your theory. 

Second, while I can see the idea of a Federation of Scouting happening, I think that is many years down the road. A lot more options for girls than boys at this moment. A good group of visionary professionals could get this ball rolling in the BSA. But, I haven't seen good professionalism from National in the last 30 years. Your idea will have to come from somewhere else. Leaving the discussion kind of back to Eagle1993's perspective.

Barry

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, UKScouterInCA said:

Organized religion is only at the core of US Scouting (note, not World Scouting) because Scouts BSA has chosen to make it so. The only part of US Scouting where it is explicit is in the Oath.

The Scouts BSA Mission Statement is: The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. (NB - One can make ethical choices without partaking in an organized religion)

A Scout is Reverent (definition of Reverent is: feeling or showing deep and solemn respect.)

Only the Oath makes mention of "To do my duty to God" which is an inherently JudeoChristian way of describing ones religion and in itself exclusionary of other religions. I know ScoutsBSA say that other religions are allowed, but the language choice in the oath is not accommodating. Regardless, oaths can change. For example, UK Scouting now has alternate oaths including one for atheists.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_Scouting#:~:text=In Scouting for Boys%2C Baden,profession of theology on Sundays…

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Eagledad said:

... Two questions come to mind with your post qwazse. First, my observation is that parents for 90 percent of the scouts make the choice for the kids to join scouting. So, I'm wondering how fits in your theory. ...

Clarification: the parents are the post modern nomads. On these forums this shows up when many of us old guard have to contend with the expectation that everything -- especially advancement is to work for the convenience of the parent. The scouts really don't care. But the parents sure do.

And they face post-modern nomadic problems. On our way back from the coffee shop, a lady asked if she could borrow my flip phone. She had just locked her keys in the car -- along with her cell phone -- an needed to call her dad because he had her spare car key. Her house was unlocked so she could wait okay, but she didn't have a land line. I offered to let her keep my phone so she could call work, but she didn't know the number because it was on her phone locked in a car. Her office just relocated that week, so she was just adjusting to the routine!

Scouting taught us how to prepare for when things don't work. Youth will still need that. But they will also need to learn what to do when things "work" all too well!

Edited by qwazse
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 minutes ago, SSScout said:

Did you read that article? The detail in it kind of says "it's complicated, and it has changed over time".

FWIW I would never argue that religion should be eliminated from Scouting. Just that those without religion should not be excluded. And the original point was that excluding those without religion degrades the reputation of Scouting in todays society in a way that it didn't in 1908.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, UKScouterInCA said:

Did you read that article? The detail in it kind of says "it's complicated, and it has changed over time".

FWIW I would never argue that religion should be eliminated from Scouting. Just that those without religion should not be excluded. And the original point was that excluding those without religion degrades the reputation of Scouting in todays society in a way that it didn't in 1908.

The part of the BP quote that I liked was that religion is simply inherent in scouting in the way scouts are encouraged to live. In that vein, I think religion can continue to have a role in scouting but without beating people over the head with it all the time. I don't think, for example, that every cub scout rank has to have a core duty to God requirement. It's repetitive and overkill. It ought to be an elective that religious COs can encourage vs. something everyone has to do all five (?) years. To me the DOR is irrelevant because if you are following the scout oath and law then you are living a spiritual life. I'm more worried about the kids who somehow get passed through to Eagle without really understanding the oath and law regardless of what religion they declare.
 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Protoclete said:

Most U.S. atheists seem to define atheism as "no position on religious questions but open to spirituality" which is more traditionally "agnosticism" - and that isn't as problematic to the Scouting value of reverence/duty to God as is atheism as "rejection of all religions, people who believe in religions are stupid, and there should be none of that spirituality nonsense in public/Scouts/whatever, don't talk about religions in scouting please" - not a lot of room for reverence / respect for others' beliefs in that. 

This could be where everyone gets hung up. The definition of atheism is "lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.", while an agnostic is defined as "a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.". Nothing about enforcing their beliefs on others.

I've had people tell me that if a Life Scout, who has been a leader in their Troop, engaged in lots of public service, acted ethically and honorably who finds that they don't believe in any god, should be kicked out of Scouting and not allowed to submit for Eagle. That seems cruel to me, and contrary to other goals of Scouting. 

I would never advocate for not allowing religion in Scouting. I would advocate that any Scout should be respectful of any other Scouts religious beliefs. whether that is monotheistic, polytheistic on non-theistic or atheistic. US Scouting is well known for not supporting that stance and it reinforces the reputation, along with the recent history of adults being very against allowing girls, and before that of allowing LGBTQ youth and leaders, of being exclusionary.

  • Upvote 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, UKScouterInCA said:

FWIW I would never argue that religion should be eliminated from Scouting. Just that those without religion should not be excluded. And the original point was that excluding those without religion degrades the reputation of Scouting in todays society in a way that it didn't in 1908.

Funny thing is membership exclusion is really about adults. I had numerous scouts who either one or both parents where ashiest or gay, but they wanted their kids to make that decision on their own when they had some life's experiences. Scouting was part of the life's experiences they wanted for their kids. When the gay activist started to target the BSA, they found quickly they weren't getting any traction with petitioning gay adults. So, they changed tactics and used gay scouts as their target, which worked. But, it was the adults the program didn't want anyway.

A program with the principles of giving youth an experience in developing the habits of morality has to present itself on the bases of morality. Most, if not all, scouters I knew had no trouble with scouts who weren't sure about god experiencing the scout program. It's only activist who turned that around and demonized scouters. But, I don't see god being optional in a moral themed program.

Barry

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, yknot said:

The part of the BP quote that I liked was that religion is simply inherent in scouting in the way scouts are encouraged to live. In that vein, I think religion can continue to have a role in scouting but without beating people over the head with it all the time.

The program focuses on a source of morality, but beating over the head is dependent on the unit leaders. If that is your experience, then your CO is probably religious and has a higher priority on religion. But, most units, even religious ones, don't beat it over the heads.

 

17 minutes ago, yknot said:

To me the DOR is irrelevant because if you are following the scout oath and law then you are living a spiritual life. 

No, that is living a servant life. Not the same thing. The spirit, god, God, rock, or whatever is the source. That doesn't mean a scout will connect the oath and law to a spiritual life, most don't. The program develops a servant habits, which are habits of a ethical and moral lifestyle. The scout will have to eventually give credit to the source. 

 

23 minutes ago, yknot said:

I'm more worried about the kids who somehow get passed through to Eagle without really understanding the oath and law regardless of what religion they declare.
 

Why? I would guess 80% of Eagles (80% of adults) are in that very place at age 18.. And, what if the Eagle decides to be an Ashiest after a time? He had the experience, was a great scout and set a good example for other scouts, He just couldn't make the connection to scout spirit and god. By the way, I know several Eagles who turn atheist as adults. Each one told me they wished they could be a leader, but they didn't want to set that kind of example. I find that very much in the Scout Spirit. 

Barry

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, UKScouterInCA said:

My father was a Scoutmaster in post WW2 inner city Bristol. This was a city that was pretty much leveled by bombing and poor areas of the city were incredibly deprived. He saw Scouting as the perfect vehicle to give these kids opportunities that were completely inaccessible to them, to be in nature and the outdoors and learn life skills and leadership, respect for others and reverence for the institutions and natural world around him.

I wish I could understand how he did that. If there's anything that could help scouting it would be to replicate that here. There have been attempts in the BSA but most have failed. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
32 minutes ago, MattR said:

I wish I could understand how he did that. If there's anything that could help scouting it would be to replicate that here. There have been attempts in the BSA but most have failed. 

Not to answer for UK, but I would imagine it was because it was a time when you only needed one dedicated adult to work with at risk youth. Couldn't happen today without paid staff. 

I know in the mists of time BSA tried to run some urban programs and I don't recall what happened. What I do know is that present day other youth organizations run showcase programs in urban areas and there is kind of an existing model. They know they can't replicate it in every area, but they pick a few high profile places and invest money in staff and facilities to run the program at those limited sites. At the very least, they learn a lot about how to serve these kids, families, and communities. From what I know, although maybe someone else has better info, in scouting it seems to be these attempts have been very one off. Someone in a district or council gets an idea they want to organize one, and they mostly do it on their own. A different model, in a post bankruptcy world if we ever get there,  might be to ask every council to sponsor an urban unit somewhere in their territory and every unit has some assigned responsibility to help. We've got something like this in our regional sports league. The various member clubs each adopt a special needs facility. The various teams all take turns running practices and games. Another organization has a facility in an urban area and has "brother" or "sister" groups who are formally affiliated and help funnel money, expertise, and volunteers to the urban program. Scouts does a lot of service in the community. In the future, in order to survive, it might need to look at ways to funnel some of those service hours into the support of scouting. Instead of food drives, drive to the city a couple times a year to help staff events for urban units. 

Edit: I guess my point is, BSA is fighting to retain expensive HA bases but why don't we also have Urban Adventure bases in places like LA, NYC, Chicago and Atlanta for example? 

Edited by yknot
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, yknot said:

Edit: I guess my point is, BSA is fighting to retain expensive HA bases but why don't we also have Urban Adventure bases in places like LA, NYC, Chicago and Atlanta for example? 

The cost to own urban core property is outrageously expensive, and Scouting is an outdoor activity? I'm all for making Scouting more accessible, but what is an "Urban Adventure Base?" What does it have to do with Scouting?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...