It’s all about the local Pack

Well, the end is near: the Boy Scouts are soon accepting girls. I’m the Cubmaster for our local Pack, and unfortunately neither I nor my district executive was notified in advance (thanks for nothing BSA!). I’m still fielding questions from parents with little information to act on.

What I do know is that I wasn’t terribly surprised. The move has nothing to do with social justice, which seems to be Fox/CNN/every other news agency’s focus. New flash: if everyone is saying the same thing…you might want to look elsewhere for the answer.

Start locally. I spent this year focused on recruiting new Scouts for our Pack. This meant getting on Facebook, posting flyers at schools, selling popcorn and talking to people at local businesses, and in general interacting with parents. LOTS of parents. The minute you wear a Scouting uniform that says “Cubmaster,” you get lots of questions.

One of my top questions, or rather complaint, was from parents of girls. They either had girls in Girl Scouts and hated it, or had pulled their girl from Girl Scouts or placed them in American Heritage Girls (the Christian-based Girl Scout equivalent). It seemed I was a commiseration magnet, because these parents would find me and just had to tell me:

“I wish my daughter could join your pack.”

This was a REGULAR occurrence. Seriously. Not just a once or twice sorta thing. When I asked why they thought that way, I received one of three replies:

“Girl Scouts doesn’t do anything fun” By far this is the most common. When I show pictures of boys building fires, shooting BB guns and archery, cleaning up parks, breaking down campsites and other outdoor stuff, I see sighs on parent’s faces. “My troop never goes camping unless it’s in a cabin,” or “They don’t let my girl use a real knife” are all too common responses.

“My troop is becoming really political” This reply is not as common as you think. These parents probably did some digging into the repeated allegations that Girl Scouts and WAGGS fund liberal propaganda on issues like abortion. These parents are more likely to have their girls in American Heritage Girls.

From my little portion of the world, as a Cubmaster on the front line, it’s all local politics. Girl Scout programs lost the focus on outdoors, while Boy Scouts stayed on target with outdoor camping and high adventure. After a lot of pleading, the Boy Scouts started Ventures (which is coed) with pretty good success, and it’s no surprise they pushed the integration down at a younger age.

“But the Boy Scouts are just making up for declining membership!” Maybe. BSA membership has gone down over the years. So has Girl Scouts, and a lot of other youth programs. I’d contend this has a lot of factors. For example, most Cub Scouts in my Pack come from married households. Single parents can’t normally attend Pack and Den meetings (a requirement, since Cub Scouts is not a babysitting service), so the jump in single family homes brings a natural decline Scouting participation, despite outreach attempts. Also, parents work longer hours for less money, so they are strapped for finances and time. I’ve had a sharp rise in requests for financial help to pay for registration fees among some of my Scouts.

I think there are a variety of reasons BSA is reaching out to girls, and if we don’t start by looking local first and asking people what they think, we’ll miss the real issue and read instead the made-up outrage and faux politics.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, or any other organization. I don’t get paid by any of these people to publish their opinions, so you’ll have to ask them what they think!

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