scouts

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So the scouting recruiters were there at back-to-school night. My son's starting second grade and he has at times expressed an interest in scouting. I was a webelo and a boy scout and I loved it. I quit for a lot of reasons, but part of it was when I felt like the religious stuf was getting in my way - I was in 7th or 8th grade. Other than that, I've had no contact with scouting for most of the last 2 decades.

I'm aware of the controversies that have sprung up regarding their non-acceptance of homosexual kids or atheist kids, which policies I strongly condemn. Also, having raised him in an atheist/agnostic household, I'm worried that it could be a point of contention with troop leaders, other scouts, etc. But my kid wants to check it out. He wants to learn about nature and outdoorsmanship and shit with other kids and I want to support him in anything he wants to do.

Have any of you dealt with this before? I've checked into other organizations, like Campfire USA, but there are no groups in my local area.

kkvgz, Tuesday, 13 September 2011 16:05 (nine years ago) link

had no idea there was anything remotely religious about the Boy Scouts

you will always be wrong (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 13 September 2011 16:18 (nine years ago) link

I hate the idea of supporting the BSA, but in terms of the quality of your son's potential experience in scouting, I think that a lot is left up to the individual leaders and I'd be more worried about who was running the local troop than I would the national organization.

Octavia Butler's gonna be piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiised (Laurel), Tuesday, 13 September 2011 16:27 (nine years ago) link

I was a scout in 'Pathfinders', an SDA scouting organization, for lack of any other troops in my very small town. I was alreay an avowed agnostic and secretly hated the relentless proselytizing and judgmentalness but otherwise had a blast.

em vee equals pea queue (Michael White), Tuesday, 13 September 2011 16:30 (nine years ago) link

had no idea there was anything remotely religious about the Boy Scouts

― you will always be wrong (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, September 13, 2011 12:18 PM (43 minutes ago) Bookmark

Yeah, it's not specifically any one religion. You can be anything and join - Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wicca, whatever. But you definitely have to do stuff like fulfill religion requirements at certain points.

One of my concerns about sending him in there all "secret agent atheist" is that he has no religious upbringing that he can fake going through the motions of. I was raised in a Christian church and so I knew the prayers and stories and stuff. He totally couldn't fake it. He knows a few things about ancient greek and norse mythologies, but absolutely nothing about any currently practiced religion.

The other thing about that method is that the first tenet of the scout law is being trustworthy, and do I want to teach him to lie at the same time?

kkvgz, Tuesday, 13 September 2011 17:12 (nine years ago) link

(I mean, don't get me wrong, he's already working out how to lie. little ones. it's cute.)

kkvgz, Tuesday, 13 September 2011 17:13 (nine years ago) link

He totally couldn't fake it. He knows a few things about ancient greek and norse mythologies, but absolutely nothing about any currently practiced religion.

I find this kind of funny tbh

you will always be wrong (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:59 (nine years ago) link

"Jesus? who's that?"

you will always be wrong (Shakey Mo Collier), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 17:59 (nine years ago) link

Well, we've given him a really brief gloss about jesus probably being a man and some people think he was a god. And I think one of his grandparents got really drunk and sentimental one year and told him him some of the manger story.

rustic italian flatbread, Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:04 (nine years ago) link

We had religious (Bible study) requirements too, but I just used them as a way to learn about one of the founding documents of the surrounding culture and looked forward to reading the classics of antiquity, too.

em vee equals pea queue (Michael White), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:06 (nine years ago) link

Oh yeah, I mean I'm totally going to clue him into that stuff at some point! It doesn't pay to be ignorant about it. But pretending or faking it would be awful and I don't know if the BSA would recognize "learning about the founding documents of the surrounding culture" as a religion.

rustic italian flatbread, Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:11 (nine years ago) link

I suppose that the next best step is to sound out the local scout leaders myself and see what their take on it is, like Laurel said.

rustic italian flatbread, Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:12 (nine years ago) link

And if they don't let us in, I'll steal their manuals and start my own scout troop.

rustic italian flatbread, Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:13 (nine years ago) link

Luckily, I was in an avowedly sectarian scout org meant for Seventh Day Adventists and I had a smattering of my mother's Catholicism (prob the reason for my atheism) so I could hold my own to a great extent and they didn't have any compunction about preaching to the grubby little heathen savage that I was.

em vee equals pea queue (Michael White), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:13 (nine years ago) link

i was in scouts and i was raised nothing; i think i just thought about dinosaurs or doodled when we had to listen to people talk about god. don't remember being persecuted or anything but it's probably troop-by-troop and what with the intensified culture wars and everything it's probably different now than it was in the 1990s. anyway, scouts is fun until you get old enough to arrange your own fun, when you should jump ship immediately.

the-dream in the witch house (difficult listening hour), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:15 (nine years ago) link

There are horror stories every now and then about a leader who's v militaristic or uses shaming and humiliation to make kids "man up" or it could be as simple as, the group available in your area doesn't do much camping or heavy outdoors stuff.

My brownie/girl scout troops certainly never went camping or made campfires or got pocket knives or did anything fun, we just met at someone's house and sewed things. There was a scout camp with platform tents that some groups went to, but not the one from my small town, run by somebody's mom, which mostly consisted of using up the craft supplies from her basement, afaict.

Octavia Butler's gonna be piiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiised (Laurel), Wednesday, 14 September 2011 18:16 (nine years ago) link

I was a scout for a long time, made it to eagle and everything, and my guess is that the program's intolerance for things is directly proportional to its degree of religiosity/Christianity. That is to say, if you belong to a troop in a region well known for fundamentalism or conservative Christianity, then the troop will likely reflect that. If you don't, it won't. When I was in scouts, I don't recall encountering any institutional ignorance. Just the usual smatterings of homophobes/racists, etc, that were no more pronounced than at public school in the '80s. And in scouts as in school, I felt it my duty to tell those assholes to shut the fuck up.

That said, my elder girl is asking about Girl Scouts, which I don't know shit about except that I don't want to sell cookies.

Josh in Chicago, Friday, 16 September 2011 19:16 (nine years ago) link

Oh really, cause I'd buy them.

rustic italian flatbread, Friday, 16 September 2011 19:24 (nine years ago) link

Oh really, cause I'd buy them.

rustic italian flatbread, Friday, 16 September 2011 19:24 (nine years ago) link

huh.

rustic italian flatbread, Friday, 16 September 2011 19:25 (nine years ago) link


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