August 13th, 2013


Look, there's another one!

A Catholic friend posted something about the Scouts of St. George on his FB. SSG is a new scouting organization for boys which will be exclusively Roman Catholic. Meanwhile, On My Honor, an internet-based group that was formed to oppose the membership change approved at BSA's National Meeting, is moving ahead with a leadership convention in September in Nashville to develop an alternative, explictly Christian (though non-denominational) alternative scouting organization. Other efforts of this sort are afoot all around.

How successful any of these new orgs will be is anybody's guess. BSA carries the brand and is hard to compete with. Still, they'll have an effect. Perhaps, in the end, more youth will experience scouting because there are more kinds of scouting to experience. Or maybe the prime effect will be to push BSA ever leftward, since these other groups will all cluster at the right end of the market for youth ministry. I don't know. But it bears watching.

BSA has always had competitors in the U.S. scouting world. Most successful was the American Boy Scouts, which was bankrolled by William Randolph Hearst and ballyhooed in his newspapers. The ABS was pretty strong back when BSA was young and it wasn't clear which would win out. This paralleled the situation in many other parts of the world, where there are multiple scouting organizations in a given country (often divided according to religious affiliation). Once the ABS folded and BSA trademarked everything "Scouting" in sight and grew into its maturity, the U.S. was pretty much a one-org community, scouting-wise (at least, for boys).

I think, perhaps, that BSA forgot what it was like to have serious competition. They began to take the support of the major religious bodies for granted, perhaps. Well, we'll see how it turns out.