Internationalism; Relationships; ...
David D. Miller (DDM@DHDIBM1.BITNET)
Mon, 13 May 1991 16:12:28 CST
I've been quiet long enough now, so:
*** Long mailing warning! ***
I knew that the US is very inward looking, but didn't realise
just how bad it was. The country is too big to comprehend what's going
on at the other end, far less that anything may actually happen
overseas. We (in Europe) have the opposite problem at the moment, but
then Europe is a little different:
Imagine going for a day long drive, and on the way passing through *six*
different countries, each with it's own language, money, legal system,
road signs, customs, etc. I don't know the exact figures on distance
and time, but it should be a feasible journey (F,L,B,NL,D,DK). As a
citizen of the European Community (Yes, that's what it says on the front
of my British passport) I can live and work (and be a Scout Leader) in
all of the twelve (soon to be twenty-four!) countries of An Comhphobal
Eorpach without needing Visas, Residence Permits, Work Permits, etc. I
arrived in Heidelberg, Germany, walked into the appropriate office,
filled in the forms (which were *only* in four different languages), and
emerged with a German Tax card with my new German social security number
on it. I wasn't even asked how long I wanted to stay. Swapping my
British (European Community) drivers' licence for a German (Europaeische
Gemeinschaft) version was done inside fifteen minutes. Internationalism
is part of our way of life. Did I mention that in my corridor at work
there are two Americans, 2 Brits, 2 South Africans, 3 Frenchmen and a
couple of Dutchmen. The Danes and Belgians are away at the moment. Oh,
there are a few Germans here as well - after all, it is their country!
Yes, it is just a little different.
Chris was right about one thing: there is no better way for Scouts to
break down international boundaries than to take part in a Jamboree or
Jamborette. JOTA is good, but nothing beats actually meeting people
from other countries. My German Pfadfinder are spending this summer in
southern France (for an active camp - climbing, canoeing, caving), but
for summer '92 we are looking at a Jamborette in Scotland (I just hope
the Blair Atholl Jamborette is held on *even* years and not *odd* years.
Contact your local International representative or commissioner for
details.). Even if we don't get places, there's plenty else to see and
do. For summer '93 we should be going somewhere eastward of here, and
link up with a Scout or Pioneer group in eastern Europe. So what if none
of us speak Polish or Hungarian or Lithuanian! Communication is always
There are plenty of opportunities to get abroad as Scouts other than
Jamborees. Operation Raleigh is an international project (admittedly
based in Britain) which sends youth around the world to dig wells, build
schools and hospitals and improve the living conditions for people in
the third world. (More than half the UK participants are Scouts or
Guides.) Scouts in the City of Edinburgh (Scotland) didn't bother to
wait for a place. They set up their own project to install clean water
supplies in villages in Sri Lanka (an island in the Indian Ocean,
just off the coast of India, marked on some out of date maps as Ceylon).
They raised all the funds themselves to cover the equipment, other
supplies, and the return flights. Nobody didn't take part just because
they couldn't afford it.
The BSA was accused of avoiding the issue, but it is a difficult issue
to teach correctly. My friends in the teaching profession know how
difficult it is: Most would rather teach their own subject an extra
hour than spend half an hour doing "Social Education". It can be
ignored to some extent: peer group pressure will work the right way in
some cases, but it can backfire badly.
There is a section of the UK Venture Scout Award (16-19 age group)
entitled "Relationships". I called home to check for the details and
promptly got the reply, "That's the section that's difficult to define."
The whole award has nine different sections, each of which consists of a
project of some kind lasting 12-18 hours. Example projects are given
for each section, and the Venture Scout must decide (together with the
examining committee) exactly what he/she will attempt to do. Sample
suggestions for "Relationships" are (from memory):
o Learn to live with and be livable with other people.
o Take part in a training course or similar event at which the majority
of the participants are not known to you. Discuss with the committee
the relationships between the people on the course.
o Relationships between adults can change with time. Investigate the
reasons for the changes, and discuss with the committee.
o Look at the members of your Unit. Who are the Jokers? The Loners?
The Leaders? The Followers? What other categories of people can you
see? What would the Unit be like without these different types of
o Examine the relationships between your Unit and the organisations
around it: the Troop (section for 11-15 year olds), the Group, schools
and the media. In what ways can you try to improve those
o After an event with a small group of people (e.g., an expedition,
training course, etc.) discuss the relationships with the Committee.
How did the "leader" emerge? At what point did the group "gel"?
The nine sections of the award are not Merit Badges, so all nine must be
completed before there is any change on the Uniform. (Nobody ever fails
the Venture Scout Award, they just don't complete it; there's a subtle
difference in the meaning.) And for the relationships part, if somebody
can negotiate with the committee what his/her project is to be, and can
convince them afterwards that they deserve that section of the award for
their hard work, they should have no problem doing the work. (Part of
this particular section *is* the negotiation with the committee.)
Admittedly, "Relationships" is considered a small part of the award as a
whole - more emphasis is placed on the expedition or the community
service parts - but it is there and must be thought about.
One way of ensuring that men behave properly with women (and that women
behave properly with men) is to put the two in contact from a much
earlier age. Try mixed Scouting!
OK, it's not going to happen in the US for many, many years: the BSA
and the GSA seem too entrenched to consider a merger, but the UK Scout
Association will probably be completely coeducational by the end of the
century (regardless of what the Girl Guides think). The "Advance Party"
committee of 1964-1966 took the first steps towards letting girls into
the Boy Scout Association in the UK by dropping the word "Boy" from the
Association's title. In 1978, "young women" were first allowed in to
the Venture Scout section (16-19 age group), after the Girl Guide
Association withdrew from talks on setting up a common senior section
for the two movements. Last year (1990), it was leaked (not formally
announced) that the high policy-makers had decided to open the Scout
Association to girls at all levels, sparking fierce debate in all parts
of the country. While many of the Beaver (6-8) and Cub (8-10) Leaders
are in favour of the change (many being women), many of the Scouts
(10-15) and Scout Leaders are very much against it. The girls (and
their parents) just can't wait!
In other European countries, mixed Scouting has been the norm for many
years. In Germany, where there are three official Scout Associations,
all three are mixed at all levels. (There is a fourth Association only
open to Catholic Girls.) The linguistic distinction between "der
Pfadfinder" (masculine) and "die Pfadfinderin" (feminine) is purely
linguistic, just as the German for girl is grammatically neuter (das
Maedchen)! I'm working with a mixed German Troop at the moment, and
seeing that it really works.
The kids here grow up in Scouting treating each other as equals.
Everyone has equal opportunities - the Gruppenleiter are just as likely
to be male as female. Everyone helps pack the trailer to go to camp -
the largest, regardless of sex, doing the most work. Everyone helps
pitch the tents. Everyone sleeps in the tents, with no artificial
divisions according to sex. (Everyone has their own sleeping bag
though!) Even in the Venture Scouts in the UK, many have mixed sleeping
arrangements without any difficulties. Indeed, the safest place for the
girls to sleep, when there might be intruders from outside the camp, is
in the middle of a group of boys. (The Girl Guide Association insists
on separate tents or rooms for its members, or at minimum a barricade of
tables, chairs and barbed wire down the middle of a room! But then, at
one stage they also insisted on all their members wearing blue
(One reason that mixed Scouting is so much more acceptable in
Continental Europe is that the people here are more open and liberal
than in the US or the UK. In Germany, topless sunbathing is normal in
most city centre public parks, and in some cities nudism is tolerated.
There are often communal changing rooms at swimming pools and unscreened
public showers where river and lake swimming is permitted. The gents
urinals are sometimes on the *outside* wall of public toilets.)
The problems with mixed Scouting lie not with the Scouts themselves, but
with the (mainly male) Leaders. I can cope with any male Cub or Scout
or Venture Scout attempting to sit on my knee (unless there is a very
good reason, such as no other seats left, they usually land heavily on
the floor - but that's what they probably wanted), but I'm not yet so
used to the girls. You can't be quite as violent with them. A female
leader is the answer, but, until female Scouts become common, female
leaders will be in short supply.
OK, that's enough from me for the moment. Are there other (male or
female) Leaders out there with *mixed* sections in the younger age
groups? How do you organise enough activity to keep the boys happy
without leaving the girls out? What is the correct way to treat a 17
year old female Scout who considers all male leaders under 25 as fair
Comments and advice are welcome.
David D. Miller
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City