Scouting

The annual “Friends of Scouting” fundraiser has me thinking about scouting again – and the huge gulf it creates between LDS boys and LDS girls in terms of available funds and awareness. This gulf bothers me now, but it hasn’t always.

Because I have no brothers, scouting was always a distant “program” that the boys my age attended on Wednesday nights; I knew very little about it. I grew up in an area which was deep in Mormon culture and tradition. I knew that boys went on high adventure trips and girls didn’t – and that was that.

Now I see (and feel) more keenly the differences between the Young Men (Scouting) program and the Young Women program – and I think it unfortunate and unfair. When the “Friends of Scouting” donation envelopes are passed around in church (another thing that bothers me), I carefully take down the name and address of the man who’s heading the effort for the year and mail him a letter explaining why there is no money included from me. It’s a nice letter explaining my disappointment with the practice of gathering funds in church for a community program and my further disappointment that none of the fund go to the Young Women of the ward. I send the same letter to the Bishop and add a line of support for anything he can do to increase awareness for the Young Woman’s program.

There have been times when I wished the scouting program would be discontinued in the church, but I’m not sure I feel that way now. I have no sons, so it’s hard to tell the impact the program has – for good – on our boys. Many of friends who are mothers tell me it’s been very valuable to their sons and they are in full support of keeping it around for the benefit of other young men.

Suzette

Suzette lives in the Washington DC area and works as a Professional Organizer. She enjoys blogging and serving on the Exponent II Board. Her Mormon roots run deep and she loves her big Mormon family which includes 20 nieces and nephews, 6 sisters, 5 brother in laws, 2 parents - and dozens of cousins. Her favorite things about church are the great Alexandria wards, temple worship, and all things Visiting Teaching.

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40 Responses

  1. Jack says:

    I find it oddly ironic that many of those who would like to see scouting disappear wish that the young women had a similar program.

    • Casey says:

      Abolish church involvement in Scouts, let parents enroll their kids in private troops if they choose (like Girl Scouts), and establish or continue to have robust, equally-funded church youth programs for boys and girls… Not too much irony there.

    • Jon Miranda says:

      Jack:
      Remember Jack, feminists don’t want equality, they want it all.

  2. Diane says:

    I am one of the people who would like to see it disappear from church. The original founder of the boy scouts really did not want scouting and church to go hand in hand. I think its’ also interesting to note, that in Scotland the scouting program isn’t affiliated or made a part of the young men program. So apparently this is only an American thing.

  3. April says:

    It bothers me that the church support boy scouts but not girl scouts. However, it sounds like fundraising, at least, is handled more equitably in my local area, where the young men and young women share one annual fundraiser door-to-door (not at church), in which they sell the service of placing flags on houses during patriotic holidays. Half the returns go to the young men and half to the young women.

    • Naomi says:

      As far as I understand it, the church does not support the Girl Scouts in the same way because it is, and always has been, a more politically liberal organization than Boy Scouts.

      • Diane says:

        Naomi,

        Here is the position and mission statement for the girl scouts:
        We recognize the basic human rights of all people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. All citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to housing, employment, and to be free from violence and harassment.

        While we condemn violence or harassment of anyone, we do not accept that individuals should be given special rights based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

        We have provided the information in this section to make parents aware that Girl Scouts of the USA is increasingly promoting LGBT issues to girls by featuring prominent LGBT rights activists as role models at Girl Scout events, in Girl Scout materials, and by referring girls to websites that aggressively promote special LGBT rights.

        We believe it is inappropriate to promote LGBT issues to child.

        This is the reason why the church refuses to allow our girls a scouting program. And to me its highly ridiculous to state that as a church we welcome and accept everyone, including our LGBT as brothers and sisters in the gospel but refuse to support their full equal rights and protection under the law.

        Yet, we do as a church support organizations like BSA who openly discriminate and we support our boys in doing this and saying that this open discrimination is okay and righteous. Ridiculous

  4. Rachel says:

    My earliest comprehension that the church had not quite attained gender equality came to me not by noticing young men my age pass the sacrament when I (and my female friends) did not, but by the differences between my mutual program and theirs. They went on week long river rafting trips. Or hikes. Or etc. I scrap booked. Baked cookies. Etc.

    Not that there is anything wrong with cookies (I loved them then and love them now), but: there is something wrong in providing more funding to one group than the other, based on sex, and providing more meaningful experiences to one group than the other. I recognize that not every young woman would enjoy the same activities as the young men, but some (perhaps even many) would.

  5. This is a topic that’s been rolling around in my head quite a bit. Good timing, Exponent, II! Both my husband and I come from big Scouting families.

    First thing to know: the Friends of Scouting fundraiser is inherently problematic. The money donated through this particular drive doesn’t go to local Scout troops — it goes to the greater Council administration. Only a small portion of this money trickles down to benefit local kids. (Last year an LDS Scoutmaster in South Jordan, Utah spoke out against this fundraiser and was reprimanded by his Bishop. The Salt Lake Tribune picked up the story, and a kerfuffle ensued.) If you really want to give money to kids for camp, etc. it’s best to make a direct donation to the troop (is there a way to do this via tithing slips?).

    As for feeling an imbalance between Boy Scouts and the YM program — boy howdy is it there! However, I imagine the reason my YW program never did high adventure stuff was owing to a generational gap — most of my YW leaders were raised in the pre-Title IX era, and had little experience in or love of the outdoors. Likewise, I know lots of men who felt alienated by the emphasis on physical activity in YM/Scouting and were miserable on camping trips. So, I’d say better balance is needed everywhere.

    It’s unlikely that the Church will ever endorse the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. because the GSUSA refuses to discriminate against LGBT individuals. Also, I think the GSUSA would be aghast at teaching girls to value homemaking above any other life choice.

    Here’s a suggestion for those who have daughters who crave the high adventure stuff: did you know that you don’t have to be a Girl Scout to go to their camps? Just a $12 membership fee will allow any girl to attend any camp in the country. And they are very reasonably priced.

    Also: girls who don’t have the time or opportunity for troop meetings can also join the GSUSA as a “Juliette” scout — that is, as an individual, troop-free scout — who can go to camps, earn badges (including the Gold Award, the equivalent of an Eagle in Boy Scouting) and yes, sell cookies to earn money for those camps. How I wish, wish, wish, I’d known about Juliette scouting when I was a teenager and had to quit Girl Scouts to make time for YW!

    Speaking of which: a lot of the Girl Scout badges and “leadership journeys” (their term for a kind of longer-term goal making/service project) would make excellent ideas for Personal Progress value projects. (The Brownie badges would also be great lessons for Activity Days, by the way.)

    Obviously, I’m enthused about this. Do I expect my daughter to get her Gold Award, just like I expect my son to get his Eagle? Heck yeah.

    And if there’s anyone out there who wants to contact me with questions about this, feel free to drop me a line.

    • X2 Dora says:

      I find it fascinating that the money donated doesn’t primarily benefit the local troop. Maybe this information should be more widely disseminated so that contributors are more aware.

  6. spunky says:

    To be honest, I like the scout program. It does offer some opportunities and leadership training that is absent in church youth programs. BUT. It is limited to boys and — from what I understand, is primarily overseen in the US (perhaps Canada and Mexico as well?) So I am for nixing the scout program as a (North American) church program, soas to better develop the church’s program for males as well as females. But I also like encouraging families to do scouting (both boy and girl scouts) in their own time.

    The asking for money for scouting is just ludicrous, that needs to be stoppped outright- it has nothing to do with equality, and everything to do with pestering members into more donations of time and money. I have no issue with ward members asking other ward members to buy girl scout cookies and financially support things privately, but when the financial request comes from church leadership, I believe it is mirror of Catholic medieval indulgences.

  7. Mhana says:

    I was a Campfire Girl, which involves co-ed clubs though mine had only girls. I participated until 11th grade, when I got my WoHeLo [Work Health Love] medallion (the equivalent of Eagle, though in my opinion a lot more work having seen my brother go through the process). I took advantage of the above mentioned Girl Scout Camp opportunity and earned a merit badge because their camp was in better shape than the local Campfire Council’s. We did more outdoors type of things, learning survival skills. I also remember working on our Many Cultures certifications learning about cultures other than our own. We also earned cooking badges, but it wasn’t just cookies, it was actual life cooking skills. I did double dip with my YW requirements some and signed things off for both.

    I think the YW personal progress program has value, because it helps set up a pattern of spiritual goal setting and follow-through. However, the nice thing about scouts or campfire is the activities are already suggested for you so you don’t fall back on doing lame things. I definitely plan on enrolling my girls (if I have any) in Girl Scouts and if necessary being their troop leader. It’s worthwhile and gives a real sense of accomplishment. There is one girl in our YW who is in Campfire and I always buy candy from her, even though I immediately throw it away. You bet I’ll finance girl empowerment and skill building.

  8. Corrina says:

    Just this morning in Ward Council, our Bish was giving us a play-by-play on the scouts’ high adventure trip to Philmont–they got back last night. (If you’ve never heard of Philmont, it’s a pretty amazing hiking/adventure scout ranch for both girls and boys.) Anyway, my dh went there as a youth and it was life changing for him.

    So, at the conclusion of the Bish talking about Philmont I said, “So are the YW going next year?” There was a slight giggle among some of the men in the room. But to be fair, the Bishop (whom I love and is very, very progressive), said, “Absolutely! If they want to!”

    When my 3 daughters are older and in YW, my dh and I will explain to them our frustration w/ the inequity of the church in this regards. And then I will take them on our own high adventure trips. I am not going to rely on the church for that.

    Off topic: I also managed to get in a Heavenly Mother comment in RS today (and very well received). Just had to share my 2 small feminist moments in church today….

  9. EM says:

    Boys Scouts in the church in Canada is not as huge as it is in the States. When I was a Primary President in the mid 1970’s I went through the scouting program to earn my badges and do the camp thing so I could qualify the Blazer Scouts, it was fun but a waste of time – it’s common sense stuff. My son was in scouts all through YM, and I afraid to say that most of these boys who received their Queen’s Scout award did so dishonestly as scout leaders would just sign off on work supposedly done – both parties were too lazy to put in the effort to do the checking. My son was very disheartened knowing that some boys received theirs dishonestly. I have to wonder how many Eagle Scouts came by their awards honestly. I for one would love to see the church get out of the scouting program and let the boys join community troops. I had my girls joined Girl Scouts and it sure didn’t do them any harm – I think it contributed to their overall skills in life.
    Community Scouting is where one can learn real life skills as oppose to being “protected” from the world in church scouting. These kids need to learn the real world life skills as they will be living in it one day.

  10. EBrown says:

    I love the Girl Scouts because they are empowering girls to be who they want to be rather than programming them to be who we want them to be. Boy Scouts? Not so much. I used to donate to both but now that BS is firmly in the homophobic, sexist, religionist faction I no longer donate to them. It’s not as though males have so completely shed the shackles of sexist thought and behavior that an antidote in the form of BS is necessary. Meanwhile some Catholic bishops have condemned the Girl Scouts: I need no further proof that Girls Scouts are an admirable and pro-female organization.

  11. Boston H. Manwaring says:

    When I was a lad scouting was great. We had a gung-ho scoutmaster who ran the troop out of his basement. We did 20 mile hikes every quarter, camporees, Philmont, everything. The difference between my experience and my sons’ experiences is simply this: I had a scouter for a leader. They have whatever doowah gets “called” to be scoutmaster. When I was at scouts, I was with boys who wanted to be scouts. When they go to scouts my sons have to put up with the disruptions of boys who don’t want to be involved. When I was in scouts, we worked to make money. We sold candy, we hired ourselves out to put flyers on doors, and we even paid dues–10 cents a week, payable right before the opening ceremony, which included a recitation of the oath, law and motto, and an inspection of the uniform. I know what a gig line is because my veteran scoutmaster demanded that everybody’s gig line be straight. My sons don’t work for their experiences. They aren’t held to any standards. They are never asked to wear a full uniform, and only a sloppy shirt and kerchief when they have ceremonies. The attitude is so lax it just sickens me sometimes. And the disorganization of the leaders–don’t get me started! My boys will not look back on scouting with the same good memories I have of my scouting times. It’s just sad. And I blame the church for messing it up, frankly.

    • It goes both ways: I’ve seen community troops that were just as sloppy, lax and disorganized, and I’ve also seen LDS-sponsored troops that were sharp, full of learning and adventure.

      I’ve found that when it comes to good scouting — like so many other things — it all depends on who the leaders are. It’s like that rhyme about the girl with the curl: when leaders are good, the troop’s very very good, and when the leader’s bad, it’s horrid.

      • X2 Dora says:

        I find the same to be true of the church in general. Where the local leaders are good, the church is good. Where the local leaders are not good … well … it can be very hard to get things done.

  12. Brenda says:

    I had a conversation about scouting with one of the scout leaders in my ward and a member of the bishopric a few Sundays ago. They were complaining about how much it cost for scout camp. I am planning a camp for my Beehives that will include rappelling, canoeing and hiking, and yet I will spend a little more money on my whole camp than they will spend to send one Deacon to scout camp. I expressed the opinion that the church should pull out of scouting. Their response was that they were going to follow the leaders of the church and the leaders still said we should do scouting. (But only in the US?) After some further comments by me they also came up with the argument that the church has done a lot to help scouting, especially by keeping God in scouting. They said the boys have a chance to interact with scouts of other faiths and this strengths them (although this generally only happens if they manage to get outside of Utah). I said fine, but if that is why we are in it, where is the program for the young women to similarly interact with youth of other faiths and be examples and learn from them as well? The Young Women Organization used to participate in such organizations as the National Council of Women and the International Council, where they had just such an opportunity to interact with and influence women from other religious traditions. It seems that, again in the church, women are confined to their place while men have opportunities to develop skills beyond the home.

    • Jon Miranda says:

      The church should pull out of scouting but what? Retain girl scouts?

      • April says:

        Jon miranda, I assume you are an intelligent person, so the only explanation for why you keep misinterpreting other people’s comments is that you are intentionally being annoying. I think it quite obvious that Brenda is arguing that the church should either stop supporting Boy Scouts or support both Boy and Girl Scout, since either option would be more equitable than the status quo. She is clearly not advocating an inequitable solution like supporting girl scouts only.

      • Brenda says:

        Thanks for your response, April. Jon, what I was originally saying to the male leaders that I was talking to was that yes, the church should pull out of scouts. However, if there really is a very good reason for the young men to be in scouts, I think that young women should have an equal opportunity. I would like one or the other, not both.

  13. MB says:

    Corrina,
    It can be done. I live in the southwest where Philmont is within reasonable reach. The young women in a ward south of us listened to the young men talk about their Philmont experience and decided to aim for it too. About a year ago they and some of their YW leaders did the work required to start an all female scout varsity team and spent the year preparing. They are heading off to a Philmont trek at the end of this month. My daughter, who has worked in the past as a staff member at Philmont as an adult, has been recruited to go along as one of their team coaches.

    YW is like YM. Brooke is right. The vision and understanding of the leaders, not the outward form of the program, is what makes or skuttles the program’s possibilities for the young people involved.

  14. MB says:

    And it sounds to me from the girls’ descriptions that the process of creating the team and running it for a year translated well into a number of their YW personal progress projects.

  15. JrL says:

    I agree with MB: “YW is like YM. Brooke is right. The vision and understanding of the leaders, not the outward form of the program, is what makes or scuttles the program’s possibilities for the young people involved.” When speaking of activities and funding, the differences are not based on handbooks, but on local (usually ward, though sometimes stake) level choices.

    But a word about Friends of Scouting.

    For more than 75 years, the Church has been a major player in BSA. (The Church has never been a player in GSA, and the programs are quite different – not just in the ways identified in prior comments, but in things like overnight, non-family camping at what by Church terms is a very young age, and restrictions on the ability of chartering organizations to control the program.) The Church is the fourth largest sponsor, in terms of number of boys, of BSA units. (Our units are small, so in terms of number of units, we have 3 times as many as the next largest sponsor.) The Church presumably feels an obligation to bear its share of the cost of operating BSA – at all three levels on which BSA operates.

    The level we most often see is the individual unit: pack, troop, team, or crew. When we see the young men in our wards fundraising (like this – worth watching!), it is at this level. The Church allows the young men to raise funds for one “long-term camp” each year. (In the handbooks, the YW are treated precisely the same way.)

    To fund BSA at the national level, which includes operation of Philmont, which a number have mentioned, BSA charges a registration fee for each boy. The Church pays that – but not out of local unit budget funds. (So if you are complaining about inequity in funding generally, you could make a point here, since the church doesn’t make a comparable contribution to any organization that serves girls. But it is irrelevant to what is actually available to your son and daughter locally.)

    The in-between level is the Council (which is divided into districts). The Council runs scout camps (which are available to YW in some circumstances) and provides training and other events. The Council gets nothing from the fundraisers your boys undertake for camp (unless camp is a profit center, which may be true for some camps in some councils). And it gets nothing from the registration fees. So unless we are going to be “free riders” at the council level, we need some mechanism for helping fund the council. In our council (and I suspect this is true generally), there are two principal sources of funds: popcorn sales and Friends of Scouting. And Church leaders have decided that we will use Friends of Scouting. So …

    If you think Scouting is worth supporting, and you believe that we should do our fair share, then you should contribute to Friends of Scouting. If you do not think Scouting is worth supporting, then you are under no obligation to contribute. Or I suppose it’s possible that you think we should Scouting but let our Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist friends (the three groups that have more Scouts than our Church does) pay the bill. But if you’re in that camp, I suggest you reconsider.

    • KLC says:

      JrL, I think your comments are a little disingenous, making friends of scouting out to be reasonable and honest support for council acitivities like summer camp. If that is true why the huge fees on top of that support? Here in So Cal one popular camp is now $550 per week per boy. How does that square with your idealistic vision of the place for friends of scouting?

      The fact is we pay coming and going in scouting. Registration fees, friends of scouting, paying for all badges and awards, and then use fees. Let’s be honest and admit that BSA has huge overhead with many richly compensated staff members that are feeding at the trough of donated scouting money and endless hours of work from local volunteers.

      • KLC says:

        And let me add that I was the person tasked with friends of scouting for several years and saw the amount of money going to BSA from church members. In our council it is the leading source of funds, far outstripping our Catholic, Baptist and Methodist friends you paint as being left to hold the bag if we don’t pony up. At least in my neck of the woods it is those groups that aren’t carrying the load, not members of the church.

        And that’s probably the biggest secret about friends of scouting, we pay such a huge portion of the operating funds that even though they really don’t like us and they really don’t like what we have done to scouting with our modifications, they’re willing to put up with it in exchange for the boatloads of money given to them by obedient and clueless church members.

  16. JrL says:

    The YM fundraising link didn’t come through: http://youtu.be/lDQUtgEGI-k

    It really is worth watching. As is the 2011 version: http://youtu.be/zUfHce9zyko

  17. Annie B. says:

    My dad served as a leader in the scouting program for much of my growing up years. We went on family camping trips a lot, but I always wished I could go on some of the more adventurous things my brothers got to go on in the scouting program. Not to mention I wish my dad had taught me all the outdoor etiquette and survival skills that he had taught my brothers. One hike they did often is called Subway in Zion National Park. I drooled over pictures of that one, the rocks were so beautiful and otherworldly. A year ago my friends invited me to hike Subway and while at my parent’s house I gushed about how I was so excited to finally go. My dad asked “Wait…you’ve never done Subway?” Aaaaaargh!

    I think the Scouting program is great and does wonderful things for the boys. My husband serves in scouting right now and has served in scouting in a past ward as well. I think many boys need a program like scouting, especially the ones that don’t have a great home life. But I also think that the young women need the same. I think the Young Men’s program could be amped up to compensate if church affiliation with the scouting program were dropped, and the Young Women’s program could do the same. OR retain affiliation with Boy Scouts, and amp up the Young Women’s program to a comparable level. It’s not really that complicated.

    One thing I wish my husband had learned in scouting that he did not: How to take care of me when I’m sick…how to take care of anyone when they’re sick for that matter, how to nurture. Since our first year of marriage he has taken the initiative to learn how to nurture. He was invaluable as my labor coach when we had our second baby since he practiced relaxation techniques and birth positions with me and took the time to learn about labor and learn what kind of things to say to me to encourage me. But during our first year of marriage when I got really sick he was so clueless and bored with me that he left me with a fever so high I could barely move to go window shopping for about 5 hours. When he left he said he was just going out to buy juice. When he got back I cried when he told me he had just been shopping out of boredom. When I told him I needed him to take care of me he said “should I call your mom?” Once again, aaaaaaaargh! And whenever I hear the quote from Conference “The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind.” I get so frustrated. We don’t just need women who are those things, we need men who are those things too.

  18. EmilyCC says:

    Suzette, I think I need to see your letter. I long to make a statement, but my husband and his family are big Scouters so we usually support if we’re able to financially. I’ve been thinking of taking what we would donate to BSA and splitting it between Scouts and the YW of our ward.

    I have no problem with Scouting since we’ve decided to attend a school-based troop. Nate C. leads the Tigers at our Title 1 elementary school. I love that he’s a role model for boys without dads and that my son gets exposed to a group of boys far more diverse than if he started Cub Scouts in our ward.

    Still, while I’d love to see the BSA and the Church separate, I have seen some boys truly benefit from the program, and I doubt they would have had an experience with Scouting if the Church didn’t provide it.

  19. Laura says:

    As a YW (late 1980’s/early 1990’s), I was seriously annoyed with scouts. The boys in our ward went to Catalina Island EVERY YEAR for high adventure and had father/son outings (both of which were because of “Scouting”) and we just had girls’ camp. So my sister (Beehive Pres), friend (Laurel Pres), and I (Miamaid Pres) organized a bit of a coup with YW friends across our stake for the same BYC to tell our bishops that WE wanted high adventure TOO! The next year our stake went to the BSA High Adventure at Beaver UT for girls’ camp and our ward began having daddy/daughter overnighters. We felt EMPOWERED to enact change!
    In retrospect, maybe those things were in the works already. Maybe our leaders were already changing and hearing inspiration. (I was blessed to have phenomenal priesthood leaders in my area.) The end result was I felt I mattered as a girl!
    More recently in the same city, our stake had a biking high adventure where all 14-18 year old boys rode bikes from Salt Lake to Las Vegas – in the summer. The first time there was no corresponding activity for girls. Four years later, the stake president announced BOTH a YM (bike ride) and YW (Moab for rafting/repelling) high adventure for that next summer. As a mom of two girls, I approached him and said, tearfully, “Thank you!” I wish this wasn’t the exception, but I’m grateful to know that it can be.
    I like Scouting on the troop/pack level but not much above that. And I like that activity day and YW leaders receive inspiration for things they can do with my girls.

  20. Becky says:

    This may not be the most coherent comment but I have spent a little time thinking about this and want to toss in my 2cent not entirely concluded thoughts.

    My brother was very involved with scouting as was my father as a leader. I know they both had great experiences. I believe I have heard that boys who participate in scouting, specifically those who reach Eagle Scout, are more likely to remain active members, serve missions, etc. My perception is that this is why so many parents are anxious that their sons participate. My problem with this is that, of course, correlation does not equal causation. From my vantage point, Scouting rewards the same kinds of personality traits that church culture rewards: ambitious, goal-oriented, extroverted leaders. So it’s no wonder that successful scouters are more likely to stick around. While those are wonderful traits, the program seems to leave our introverted, introspective dreamers without a sense of belonging. While we continue to lose our youth (both young men and young women), it seems to me we ought to be worried about making sure our programs help each of our children (and our adults) feel that they have a place in our church community, whatever mold they may fit.

    I would have zero issues with the Friends of Scouting fundraiser if the YW were given the opportunities to raise money on a remotely equitable level. As it is, the YW are strictly limited in their fundraising while the boys can do tons of fundraising because it’s not for YM, but for the community group, Boy Scouts. In the meantime, in many wards the YM budget far exceeds that given the YW. My sister was asked to put on a Stake Activity Day for the girls with a budget of 25 cents per girl. Twenty-five cents! My mother is Primary President in her ward. The per capita Cub Scout budget is several times more than the Activity Day Girls budget.

    That said, if I were to ever be called into a YW calling, I would likely look at the merit badge program to steal some ideas for activities. Especially with our YW from disadvantaged homes, the parents are often unable to pass on many important basic life skills. I think the Boy Scouts have a lot of good to offer there in that regard and in offering an honest sense of accomplishment.

    Suzette, I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never thought of responding to the Friends of Scouting drive in the way you do. I just ignore the envelopes. I promise that next year yours won’t be the only such note sent in our Stake.

    And on a positive final note: my parents’ stake, along with several other area stakes, recently purchased a girls camp in rural Pennsylvania. My understanding is that much of the enthusiasm and push came from their new Stake President, a man I grew up with (so you know he’s awfully young :)) and has been listening to and responding to some of the concerns I outlined above. Many many hours of volunteer labor have been put into the camp. All for the girls. I know similar things have been done elsewhere but I can’t imagine it having happened in our stake when I was in YW, so I have hope that change can come as leaders who have grown up with more egalitarian perspectives are called.

    • Suzette says:

      Becky, it’s nice to know that the our stake will receive two letter during Friends of Scouting next year.

  21. JrL says:

    Becky: “As it is, the YW are strictly limited in their fundraising while the boys can do tons of fundraising because it’s not for YM, but for the community group, Boy Scouts.” In terms of fundraising for the activities in which they engage, this is simply wrong. Well, in terms of Church policy it is wrong. It may be that a local unit is violating the fundraising instructions by letting the YM do more than the Handbook permits. And it is possible that the local unit is not treating the genders equally, allowing the YM to fundraise for their long-term annual campt but not allowing the YW to fundraise for theirs. That inequity would be contrary to the Handbook as ell.

  22. I’ve been wondering, aside from the idea that “men need a men only venue to just ‘be men'”, what’s stopping the formation of more Explorer Scout troops? Explorer Scouts, if I’m remembering right, are co-ed, 14-21.

    I think its cool to see more women in scouting when they want to be, and the women in my wards who have gone to woodbadge have always raved aobut it. Conversely, why can’t YM concentrate more on the spiritual and service aspects (like the YW Personal Progress) and let the YM who don’t mind visiting nature (but not having to sleep with it) enjoy a sense of belonging without having to prove they are “manly men”? The progress may be slow, but I think the new(ish) YM Progress manual (which is much like the YM Personal Progress) is a good step toward detatching Scouting from the Church.

    Scouting may be good for many boys in their journey toward manhood, but it should not be made into the ultimate rite of passage.

  23. IDIAT says:

    I guess, because I’ve been associated with scouting in some way or another since 1986, as well as the YM and YW and primary programs, I can’t identify with some of the comments made. My ward budgets have almost always been on a per capita basis, so that the YM get the same per head as the YW, and the Cubs get the same per head as the Activity Day girls. About the only exception made is that the YM/Cubs tend to get about $100 more for awards because the BSA awards are so expensive. Other than that, scouts and their families pay their way to scout camps and high adventures assisted by fund raising, and the YW and their families pay their way to Girls Camp assisted by fund raising. The FOS effort in my stake is pretty lackluster. The other religious troops donate much, much more than local members do. I guess is does depend on the locality. Personally, as much as I like scouting, I wouldn’t mind seeing the church drop out of it and adapt the DTG program to somewhat model the earning of merit badges. From my experience, scouting is broad enough to keep the attention of the extrovert gung ho camper as well as the “nerd” computer gamer. It’s always been a challenge for leaders to get BSA “trained”. It would be much easier to train YM leaders during all the other leadership meetings to have a quality DTG program than to keep having them do “double duty,” trying to incorporate scouts at the same time as DTG. I am disappointed by the number of comments on another thread that denigrate PP. My girls have enjoyed earning their YWR. Like any program of the church, neither scouting nor PP is the end all solution to all of life’s problems, but if done well, both can have a lasting, temporal and spiritual effect on participants and their families.

    • Jen says:

      Well said, IDAIT. I can see where a lot of the other comments are coming from, but my experience has been more like yours.

  24. Diane says:

    Moderators, if you feel this post is not appropriate please feel free to delete,

    This is not an attempt to derail the conversation, but, an attempt to help locate a lost pet with their family.

    As many people know I have an adopted Sheltie name Beau. Because he was my first Shetland I also belong to an online forum called Sheltie Nation and part of the online community there deals with animal rescue.
    Hence the reason for my seemingly off topic, but, necessary post, I would like to do my part in helping the owner locate their missing babe.
    There is a lost Sheltie boy in the Pittsburgh area. He appears to be well taken care of and is currently being taken care of by a local vet in the Beaver area. They are looking into the possibility of having him being fostered until the owners can be located.

    If you know of anyone in the Beaver area of Pittsburgh who has lost a little ” fur baby” please contact me via e mail and I will put them contact with the people who are trying to reconnect this lost dog.

    Thank you again

    • Shelley says:

      Have you posted on Craigslist? If I lost a pet, that would be one of the places I would check to see if anyone had posted about finding him or her.

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