This is long: Re: Boy Scouts, Family Life


#1

Part One (Part 2 immediately follows)

My son is a Webelos Scout and we visited an active Boy Scout troop recently. My oldest brother and grandfather were Eagle Scouts. My son is in a great den with a great leader and so far scouting has seemed a real good thing. My son seems quite motivated by the whole badge and rank-earning thing. I’m glad to have someone teach him “boy” things.

At the presentation there was lots of talk about this being boy-centered and parents not being allowed to accompany on events unless they were for the whole group. Okay. Also the *only *problems they have had with scouts recently has been with “interfering parents”. Dads are encouraged more then Moms but my son’s father lives out of town and is only spuratically available, so this is my responsibility primarily.

The comment was made that it comes time to cut the apron strings, and pass the baton. They seemd to be saying that that time was now and they were there to pick up the baton.

That statement was unsettling. I’m the one to discern when the strings need to be cut.

It was also explained how at campouts parents in attendance (and he really seemed to only put up with, not encourage parental involvement, and seemed far more encouraging of Dad involvement) have their own shelter to eat and commune in and the boys have theirs - and we are to “stay away” – let the boys be boys, its “their” campout. Lots of good talk about leadership skills. How they plan all their own events. And what a schedule they showed us! They have exciting and varied campouts every single month. Plus lots of other things.

One odd thing is they kept the parents outdoors while they talked to us, and the boys went in to sit in on the scout meeting inside. Later, because of cold, we moved into the tiny kitchen. The talk went on and on. Lots of it informative, but it almost felt as if we were being “kept” there tillthe meeting was over, and thats in fact when they stopped talking. So the parents missed the whole scout meeting. We were separated.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not imagining some secret clandestine stuff was going on. Its just that they seemed to be drawing the boundaries, and we parents were decidedly on the outside.

So, I look at this proposed future of growing boy-years of so much parentless boy activity. A long parade of weekend after weekend bonding with the troop boys. The boys plan it, look forward to it, and loyalty to the troop is encouraged.

I see its good for leadershiop skills, but it comes at the cost of so much time of formative years developing this close, close affinity and cooperation with a group of boys.

It seems like it would really form who he becomes as a man. Independant, competant, capable - and a man who really enjoys his buddy time with his guy friends.

Not necessarily a family man. Well these are good skills for a family man to have. I thought of my eagle scout brother, and he is certainly independant, competant, capable. I always looked up to him fo rthese traits. And he really enjoys his time with his guy freinds! He does a lot for his family too; he is no shirker of responsibility. But this summer I was comparing his marriage with that of my youngest brother.

(continued and finished in next post)


#2

This youngest brother had the least amount of scouting as he was a few years behind the rest and scouting was de-emphazied by then. He spent the most time with my mother, being younger then the rest. And you know, he has the very best marriage. And he is the only brother with any faith practise - this was encouraged by his wife. He is truly a wonderful husband and father, and is the most family centered. He has a few good guy friends he keeps in touch with, but the main bulk of his life is being a very great dad and husband and family man. He has one of the best marraiges I know. I have credited it to lots of time with my Mom… He has more empathy.

My eagle scout brother has a good marriage, but lacks the passionate interaction my other brother has in his marraige and he is just not as totally-tuned into family relationships. And he has a large network of guy friends and fun guy traditions with them - like annual camping weekends, also time consuming hobbies he shares with them. He is active and doesn’t shirk responsibility, but it seems that his independance and competance and capabilty is not a total assett to family life.

Also at this time I have great hope I may soon homeschool again. I had thought how easy it would be now for my son to earn badges and ranks with more time to work with. So on my way out the door, I asked the leader/presenter if there were any homeschooling families. “Homeschooling families?” he asked blankly. No - as far as he knew, none of the boys in this large troup were.

I was surprised, and somewhat concerned, that no one representing family-life-oriented homeschoolers was in the troop.

Has any one else had red flags about boy scouts?

(Please know - I searched for “boys scouts” on the forum and read the long thread from eagle scouters and others about how great Boy Scouts are for making you competant and independant, etc. I know all this. My eagle scout brother is a great guy. And a real good family man and husband. I just want my son to be a GREAT family man and husband*, and a great Catholic.)

*(Maybe God will choose him for a Priest. But I happen to think a great family man and husband makes a great Priest).


#3

I’m a former Scout (Life Rank) a past Adult Den Leader, and Cubmaster, and now an Assistant Scoutmaster. I’ve been involved with my son from Tiger Cubs up to now (2nd Class), or about 7 years.

You are describing the primary difference between Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting - the level of direct adult involvement.

In Cubs, the Adult Leaders planned nearly everything, and were responsible for rank advancement, etc.

In Boy Scouting it changes to a “Boy Run” philosophy. The meetings, activities, outings, etc. are planned and implemented by the Patrol (group) Leaders, then passed to the the Committee (adults) for approval.

The higher ranking boys (usually 2 - 3 years older) are mentors for the new Scouts. They need this teaching for their own rank advancement, and it develops their leadership skills. Everything should go “up-stream”. A scout asks his Patrol Leader, the PL asks the Asst. Senior Patrol Leader, he asks the Senior Patrol Leader… if these boys can’t answer/solve the question it goes to an Asst. Scoutmaster or the Scoutmaster.

As far as the meetings go, it is the boy’s meeting, not the adults. Usually most Troops meet once a week, and one of these meetings is a “Parent” meeting. This is separate from the boy’s meeting, and should fill you in on all upcoming events.

BSA National regulations require “Two Deep” adult Leadership at all time on ANY Scouting function. There must be two adults present at all times. On outings at least one adult MUST have at least Outdoor Leader Skills training & Child Protection Training. We try to keep about a 5:1 ratio on our outings.

Yes, on most outings/campouts the adults are “separated” from the boys. We’re affectionately known as the “Old Goat” Patrol. We have our own (adjacent) campsite & tent area, prepare our meals separately (using the same equipment as the boys). The boys need to ask permission to enter our campsite.

Women shouldn’t be discouraged from attending outings, but go in realizing that the logistics of having a female in camp are tough. There are privacy issues, latrine difficulties, etc.

We are there primarily in a supervisory and safety position… and YES it is darn hard to not step in, but they have to learn, or ask a peer… not go running to an adult. (If the consequences of an impending “act” are dangerous, or limb threatening we will step in immediately.) This is probably what your Troop meant by “interfering” parents.

We let them make mistakes, burn the occasional meal, and let them get rained on. After one or two times the tents go up quick, they eat well, and remember boots, raingear, and a flashlight :thumbsup:.

With your boy as a Webelos he should have a lot of the basic skills needed for an easy transition into Boy Scouts. He’s already been on campouts, done some basic cooking, and should have the primary camping gear.

The other thing to keep in mind is you are in no way committed to joining the Troop you visited. Most towns have a few Troops. Ask your Cubmaster about others in the area. Or, try here: scouting.org/index.html

Another thing. It takes a LOT of adults to facilitate a “Boy Run” Troop :wink: ! Seriously consider registering as an Adult Leader, and take some training… a lot is available on-line… or volunteer for a Committee Position. This way you will have an inside track into the Troop’s workings.

I hope this helps and answers a few of your questions.


#4

I have a Webelo II, as well, and I have been very active in Cub Scouts, having been his den leader since he was a Tiger. I greatly enjoy camping and the like, so when it came time to start thinking about the move to Boy Scouts, we started asking about the few troops around.

The scoutmaster of one is the same man who was cubmaster when we started. A decent enough fellow, but very much into the “cut the apron strings” mentality. He seems to encourage parent participation, but also seems to mostly want it to be the dads. I’m married to Dad, but going on a campout or doing other scout activities does not really rank high on his list. And in this group, I got the feeling that boys without actively participating dads were somewhat looked down on as “Mama’s boys” or whatever.

So my friend and I (also an active mom with a dad who doesn’t participate much) talked one of our recent Cubmasters into reactivating a dormant troop. We met with the previous leaders last week and the keys to the equipment closet were passed. I understand that they will best learn about being a man from other men, but at this point, I am still hopeful that we will have some place in their scouting experience for a few years more. I can kind of see when they’re 14, 15 that they won’t really care if mom is camping nearby. But at 11 and 12, I’m not quite ready to let go.

My advice is to look around for another troop. There may be one that is smaller or more open to involved moms. You might also ask other homeschoolers if their boys are in Scouts. We have a small number in our pack who are homeschooled (3 out of 50, maybe) and I know there is one in the troop that we are not joining. If another troop is not an option, I am sure there are ways that you can be involved with this one - committe member comes to mind - though it may be an uphill battle.

My dad was a cubmaster and scoutmaster. Both of my brothers were Scouts. One made it to Eagle. He is the one who has a family (2 kids and another on the way). He has been a scout leader for his boys and an attentive husband, although is wife would probably drive me to homicide. The other made it to about 1st class. He is married, but they have 4 legged children (dogs) and have very little, if any plans to include human children in their family. So I’m not sure you can make blanket assumptions. It may just be personality differences.

On a side note, our pastor is an Eagle Scout, and he is wonderful!

Good luck with your decisions.


#5

sorry mommies I side with Jay on this, coming from a family with a long history with scouting.

for one thing all child safety programs will tell you and sensible rules of all such organizations mandate the adults and children Never sleep in the same quarters.

The state purpose of boy scouting, or one of the biggest, is fostering independence, problem-solving, decision-making, peers working together as a group in planning and carrying out activities. Keeping children dependent on parents, particularly on mom to plan, prepare, supervise and clean-up after activities, especially for boys, handicaps normal growth to maturity and self-reliance, and is in my opinion responsible at least partially for the epidemic of adolescents masquerading as adult males in this culture, i.e. the 35 yr old man who still has mommy taking care of him and cannot commit to a mature relationship with another woman.

The other factor is the absence of dads as an influence in a boys life, and the stress on dads over moms involvement on the part of scouting is healthy and necessary in my opinion.


#6

The state purpose of boy scouting, or one of the biggest, is fostering independence, problem-solving, decision-making, peers working together as a group in planning and carrying out activities.

I’m sorry but this is flat out wrong. The purpose of the BSA is to make boys into Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent men, by committing to do their duty to God and country…

Cutting the apron strings is merely a technique used to help the boy excersize the virtues listed in the Scout Law. You don’t know what it means to be Cheerful until you’ve been rained on for 4 days straight, your meals turned to cold mush, and you haven’t slept well. Being cheerful is easy when mama is cookin’ and tuckin’ you in every night. But unless a man can be cheerful when things are the worst, he doesn’t really possess a valuable virtue.

Parental involvement in our troop runs the gamut. There’s plenty of places where moms and dads can participate. But the best way to cut the apron strings is to go where mom can’t keep up. And if she can keep up she’s likely not the mom to cause us worries.

I’ve pointed out to moms that they need to let the boys clean up the dishes. So far they haven’t argued with me…


#7

Eliza,

My 12 1/2 year old son is in his second year of Boy Scouts and his troop is pretty much just like the one that you described. It is very different from cub scouts in that it truly is boy centered. It may seem a little bit odd to parents at first, but I can tell you that it really does work. I’ve hung out at a couple of meetings, sat on a few boards of review, and gone on one camping trip. From what I have been able to observe, the leadership roles that these boys are able to take on is nothing short of amazing. They REALLY are learning so much about independence, personal accountability, dealing with the consequences of not planning ahead, working together as a team, etc. I would really recommend trusting that boy scouts has this figured out and that your son will be able to achieve more than you could have imagined if you allow yourself to just step back. Don’t worry about mistakes being made because they learn so much more from making mistakes than they ever would learn from having the parents there to make sure that everything goes smoothly the first time. It really is important to give our kids the chance to experience those consequences that we have a tendency to want to protect them from. It’s a necessary part of the growing up experience.


#8

Is there another troop in town that you can visit? Also, I’d like to add that while there’s big talk, especially from the male leaders, at Boy Scout meetings about being boy-led and letting the boy take responsibility for his scouting career, let me tell you, more often than not, it’s the Moms who are checking requirements and deadlines, making certain that the scout is staying on track for the eagle. So while you won’t be as involved as you are in cubs, you will need to follow up with your son from time to time to make certain that he is progressing. And what about Catholic religious medals? Our troop offers the Ad Altare Dei and St. Pius XII. With the right leadership, these awards are wonderful. Finally, don’t be intimidated by any boy scout leader. They are your equals and your are the scout’s mother. The vast majority of scout leaders are absolutely fabulous individuals who are very devoted to scouting.


#9

In Cub Scouts, we DO share a tent with our offspring. Our rule is “no child can share a tent with an unrelated adult” and this covers parents who want to send their son with another family, families who want to share tents, and “fiances” who want to come spend the weekend with parent and junior.

However, I have no problem with letting the boys move off to their own area in Boy Scouts. It means I can be with the grown ups. No problem with them learning to cook and wash dishes. But I like camping, too. It’s the next best thing to Mass. Don’t deprive me of my camping fix just because my kids are growing up and I’m a woman.:slight_smile:


#10

My husband and his brother quit the Scouts because
a) they didn’t like the “merit badge” mentality where you learned some little bit of something and then wore it on your sleeve that you knew something about it
b) their dad was extremely knowledgeable about the outdoors, as he was an accomplished mountain-climber and active in mountain rescue. They had plenty of very knowledgeable and reliable men to hang out with.
c) their mother did not attempt to run their adventures

My husband lived at home until several years after he went to college, at which time he lived with his brother. He lived alone when I met him, but called his mother every day.

His mom lives with us now. Nevertheless, my husband does dishes, does laundry, and does whatever else he sees that needs doing *because his mother taught him how. *She didn’t see catering to him as her job. She saw teaching him how to take care of himself as her job. In fact, my husband made breakfast for the three of us this morning. He is not a mama’s boy, and she is a wonderful lady that I am lucky to have living in the same house.

Another thing: my husband grew up feeling sorry for the Scouts. He remembers seeing them out hiking on the same trails he was hiking with his family, only they were slogging along, their eyes focussed four feet in front of them, forced march. His parents taught him that there is no reason to be outdoors if you aren’t going to lift up your eyes, perk up your ears, and take it in just for the sake of taking it in. Later, my husband became active in mountain-climbing and mountain-rescue himself, so he was no loafer on the trails. I don’t think that all Scout troops are like that, but if your child joins the Scouts, make certain that the leaders of their troop know why on earth it is worth spending time in God’s creation in the first place.

By the way, one of the reasons I married my husband is the way he treated his mother and the way she treated him. That was one of the smartest things I ever did. So anything you can do to raise your son to treat you the way you’d want him to treat his future wife, do that. Putting his relationship with his family second to his relationship with an organization isn’t it. Choose your troop wisely.


#11

These responses are great! I am going to respond better - I was out all day and now have a crisis to face, but I will get back late in the weekend. Thank you.


#12

In Cub Scouts, we DO share a tent with our offspring. Our rule is “no child can share a tent with an unrelated adult” and this covers parents who want to send their son with another family, families who want to share tents, and “fiances” who want to come spend the weekend with parent and junior.

Without coming across as being too harsh, there is no such thing as “our” rules when it comes to sleeping arrangements in Scouting. The BSA has very defined regulations about this. It for the protection of the organization, the adults, and the kids. You should talk to your Leaders & Committee, or District Rep if these policies are not being followed.

This is copied directly from the BSA website:

  • Two-deep leadership.
    Two registered adult leaders or one registered leader and a parent of a participant, one of whom must be 21 years of age or older, are required on all trips and outings. The chartered organization is responsible for ensuring that sufficient leadership is provided for all activities.
  • No one-on-one contact.
    One-on-one contact between adults and youth members is not permitted. In situations that require personal conferences, such as a Scoutmaster’s conference, the meeting is to be conducted in view of other adults and youths.
  • Respect of privacy.
    Adult leaders must respect the privacy of youth members in situations such as changing clothes and taking showers at camp, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults must protect their own privacy in similar situations.

Separate accommodations.

  • When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian.
  • Councils are strongly encouraged to have separate shower and latrine facilities for females. When separate facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers.
  • No secret organizations.
    The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders.
  • Appropriate attire.
    Proper clothing for activities is required. For example, skinny-dipping is not appropriate as part of Scouting.
  • Constructive discipline.
    Discipline used in Scouting should be constructive and reflect Scouting’s values. Corporal punishment is never permitted.
  • Hazing prohibited. Physical hazing and initiations are prohibited and may not be included as part of any Scouting activity.
  • Junior leader training and supervision.
    Adult leaders must monitor and guide the leadership techniques used by junior leaders and ensure that BSA policies are followed.

Leadership Requirements for Trips and Outings

  • Two-deep leadership:
    Two registered adult leaders, or one registered adult and a parent of a participating Scout, one of whom must be at least 21 years of age or older, are required for all trips or outings. There are a few instances, such as patrol activities, when no adult leadership is required. Coed overnight activities require male and female adult leaders, both of whom must be 21 years of age or older, and one of whom must be a registered member of the BSA.
  • During transportation to and from planned Scout outings.
    If you cannot provide two adults for each vehicle, the minimum required is one adult and two or more youth members—never one on one.
  • Male and female leaders must have separate sleeping facilities. - Married couples may share the same quarters if appropriate facilities are available.
  • Male and female youth participants will not share the same sleeping facility.

Single-room or dormitory-type accommodations for Scouting units:

  • Adults and youth of the same gender may occupy dormitory or single-room accommodations, provided there is a minimum of two adults and four youth. A minimum of one of the adults is required to be youth-protection trained.
  • Adults must establish separation barriers or privacy zones such as a temporary blanket or sheet walls in order to keep their sleeping area and dressing area separated from the youth area.
  • When staying in tents, no youth will stay in the tent of an adult other than his or her parent or guardian.
  • If separate shower and latrine facilities are not available, separate times for male and female use should be scheduled and posted for showers. The buddy system should be used for latrines by having one person wait outside the entrance, or provide Occupied and Unoccupied signs and/or inside door latches.
  • Adult leaders need to respect the privacy of youth members in situations where the youth are changing clothes or taking showers, and intrude only to the extent that health and safety require. Adults also need to protect their own privacy in similar situations.

#13

The state purpose of boy scouting, or one of the biggest, is fostering independence, problem-solving, decision-making, peers working together as a group in planning and carrying out activities.

I’m sorry but this is flat out wrong. The purpose of the BSA is to make boys into Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent men, by committing to do their duty to God and country…

Well, nobody is “flat out wrong”, and neither is 100% correct, you’re both 1/2 right (if that’s possible):stuck_out_tongue: From the BSA website

*Youth Member Behavior Guidelines
The Boy Scouts of America is a values-based youth development organization that helps young people learn positive attributes of character, citizenship, and personal fitness. The BSA has the expectation that all participants in the Scouting program will relate to each other in accord with the principles embodied in the Scout Oath and Law.

One of the developmental tasks of childhood is to learn appropriate behavior. Children are not born with an innate sense of propriety and they need guidance and direction. The example set by positive adult role models is a powerful tool for shaping behavior and a tool that is stressed in Scouting.
.*


#14

Three boys in Scouting and it is a great experience for them. My husband and I went through the training programs and found them to be top notch. We only had problems with the Outdoor Leader skills program. The three men who run the program will not allow a husband to train with his wife. Our Scoutmaster did the training with his wife and his wife was matched up with a man she found to be a little too friendly with his words and hands. We went out of council to get Outdoor Leader skills with a group who encourages husbands and wives to train together. We now attend summer camp for the week and enjoy watching all of the boys grow in all areas.


#15

Jay2

You’re correct, I should not have used “flat out wrong”. I focused on the “independence” part too much. Although that and the decision-making, problem solving, and working in a group are fruits of a good scouting experience, they are not necessarily the purpose.

You do not have to be independent or a good problem solver, or necessarily a good decision maker to be a good scout. But if you develop the characteristics in the Scout Law, you will be good at working in a group. And if you have enough people, someone in the group will be a good decision maker, another will be a good problem solver. And if they’re independent, then what’s the point of joining a group? And if they’re independent they could be totally useless for working with others in a group no?

And to be quite honest I can’t find anything in your quote from the BSA website that doesn’t completely agree with what I described.


#16

Agreed!

What you described just naturally happens. Everyone has a “bent” or talent towards something. They might not even know they have it… until they’re in a group where the situation presents itself and a job needs to get done… and they’re assigned a task or volunteer for one.

In my experience with the BSA there aren’t too many true “loners”. Their personalities just don’t like group/team activities, and they either don’t join, leave the program, or become a “stick in the mud” for the others. The good part is that if they stick with it, they’ll learn to work in a group and not take off solo.

The three men who run the program will not allow a husband to train with his wife.

I can see the logic in not allowing husband/wife training teams. You’d be taking away the fundamentals of communicating with someone new, and learning their strengths and/or shortcomings. Now, attending the same session, but on different “teams” would be OK.

Our Scoutmaster did the training with his wife and his wife was matched up with a man she found to be a little too friendly with his words and hands.

Sounds like a word needs to be dropped to the DE (District Exec.), or maybe he’s just one of those "touchy/feeley types…(male or female that invade your “bubble”).

… Sidebar - another great tip… looking around to other Councils/Districts that meet your needs, but still following BSA policy.


#17

Thanks Jay. If we do continue our involvement, then looking into “adult leader” role would be a good move. Thanks for the idea.


#18

Yes, this is the very thing that brought me a lot of dis- ease! Made my tummy a little queasy.

I don’t like that. Because boys who respect their mothers grow up to be boys who respect their wives.

Wow! A big new beginning for you!

Good ideas!

Thats true. You do have to be careful with assumptions. But I think one can watch and spot trends. Ideology bears fruit, and one cn examime the fruit. And as I said, my eagle scout brother is a great guy, and a real good family man. I am just going to look at all this closer now.

Thanks Acadian!


#19

As a mom of two Eagle Scouts I just want to say :wave:

I don’t have time to read all the discussion right now, but I want to say that Scouting takes parental involvement. Our boys went from the Northern Teir canoeing & portaging 60+ miles across the Great Lakes, to snorking and diving while taking a 36’ catamorans (4 to be exact) to the Florida Keys.

Unfortuanately I think they were able to participate in activities taht most troops don’t have the opportunity to for. They worked hard, raised their money, and learned hard. But it is a troop where parents are committed to seeing their boys achieve the goals set before them.

They are both very well adjusted young men (31 & 22) succeding in God, life, family, and work. So what makes one succeed and the other not. I don’t know, I just know that the parents (moms, dads, and even grandparents) were always very involved!:thumbsup:


#20

This is the thing…I think it depends on the troop and the family.

Scouting seems to be very good for some, not so good for others. It isn’t the One True Male-Bonding Organization for Raising Independent Men. I don’t think it tries to be. I think it tries to be good at what it does…but in the end, it all happens at the local level. (Kind of like schools, come to think of it!)


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