aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Some further thoughts on girls in [Boy] Scouting

The pilot Councils' reported experiences are very encouraging, and all BSA Councils will welcome girls into Cub Scouts this August. There are three forms of Cub Scouting to be offered: continuing as an all-boy Pack; starting an all-girl Pack; or having a Pack with separate girl and boy Dens. My guess is, most Packs (other than the few whose charter partners insist on remaining all-boy) will go for the blended Pack model. That said, I very much doubt having girls and boys in separate Dens survives longer than the first year. Already, adult Cub Scouters are telling me they're going to put them in Dens together. The reason is that small Dens (say, 4 boys and 2 girls) is not as much fun for kids, AND doing two small Dens rather than one full Den requires a heck of a lot more leaders.

Meanwhile, girls are to be welcomed into [Boy] Scouting -- now renamed Scouts BSA -- next February. Here, BSA requires separate Troops for girls and boys. Given the ages involved (middle school), this is probably a good idea. And I really don't know who could object to an all-girl Troop doing the same program as an all-boy Troop. But again, the devil is in the details.

BSA is going to support two different models of Troop support structure for charter partners. In the first, a charter partner has two different Troops with two different sets of adult leaders and two different Troop Committees. The other option is to have two different Troops with different sets of adult leaders, but with a united Troop Committee. Now, we've seen this before. I've said for years -- emphatically -- that a Venturing Crew needs its own Committee, even if it is tightly wed to a Scout Troop. And, of course, a Cub Pack needs its own Committee, too. Blending leadership tends to cheat one program to the benefit of the other. But there are a lot of weak Crews out there using what amounts to an unofficial blended Committee model -- because it's easier for adults (not because it's best for youth). So I imagine there will be a lot of blended Committees with a Scoutmaster and Assistants for boys and a Scoutmaster and Assistants for girls. I see this as a potential problem. The girls' program may not get the attention it needs; OR, the girls and the boys Troops will wind up doing everything together, even if they have (officially) separate leaders. In which case, we might as well put girls and boys in the same Troop.

We might wind up there in a few years, anyway, I'm thinking. And I don't suppose the roof will fall in if we do. But I really wonder how this is all going to work out, and how much BSA is making rules they think will really work, and how much they're making rules just to get things going. We'll see.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering how we'll do in recruiting girls into Scouts. I think we'll have lots of excited girls joining Cubs, but next February, we have a different situation. Starting all-new units is HARD. Finding and developing new leaders -- especially when they're not being groomed to leadership within an existing unit -- is also HARD. I wonder how fast a start girls in Scouts BSA will have in our Council.

And I've wondered -- since I'm not really connected to any unit right now -- if I ought to volunteer to help launch an all-girl Troop. I mean, I've started quite a number of new units over the years. I've been a Scoutmaster several times. I've worked with girls in Venturing, and of course, in middle school youth ministry, for many years. I could help get it going -- not just for the girls, but for the leaders (especially women) who are new to the program, who need to know how to make this program go.

Two things militate against this. One is Time. I have plenty of other commitments, especially the building of my ultimate retirement house. Being a unit leader of any unit is extremely time-consuming. I'm not sure I'd be up to it. And I'm pretty sure Deanne would see it as a distraction to my/our goals.

The other thing that gives me pause is, well, the drama. Middle school kids produce drama the way bees produce honey: boys and well as girls. But then, I've been a boy; I understand boy drama, and I can handle it. But girl drama. Oh, Jesus save us. I'm not sure if I'm up to handling a bunch of 11-year-old girls, unleavened by any boys, who are having a mutual meltdown. I'd have to have a tough-as-nails female co-leader I could turn to and say, "You keel-haul 'em; I'm going to go sit down over there for a while."

Still, it bears thinking on. And what I know from other countries' experience is that co-ed Scouting is the norm. American Scouting is unusual in many respects, in its separate programs for different sexes, but also in the dominance of BSA and GSUSA in our society. Many countries have multiple Scouting associations -- often affiliated with different religious bodies -- even though only one national association can be affiliated with WOSM or WAGGGS (the major international Scouting bodies for boys and girls). We'll make it work.

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