not AGAIN with more court battles
David D. Miller +49 6221 594535 (DDM@DHDIBM1.BITNET)
Wed, 19 May 1993 11:30:34 -0600
One of Don's ideas, a 12 month probationary period, sounded familiar:
In _some_ German organizations, there is a probationary period of
at least a year before a prospective Scout is permitted to take the
Scout oath and wear the appropriate uniform. Even registration with
the national association is deferred six months after first joining.
Cubs, who are already registered with national, still have at least
6 months to show that they are suitable once they reach the right age.
There are no fixed requirements, nor any board of review in this
process. The Patrol Leaders' Council makes the decision that a given
Scout is ready to be invested into the Troop. Since the investiture
must be done at one of the three Troop camps, and in the presence of
the Troop leader, it may take a further year before anything is done.
Those who are in uniform show a good example to those who are not,
much like the BSA Scout and Tenderfoot look up to those with Star and
A couple of minor differences: this particular group is attached to a
church district, and doesn't really seek membership outside the
members of the two churches. The Group actually meets in one of the
churches. Secondly, while not actually requiring every member to
believe in God, the first piece of promotional literature makes it
abundantly clear that the work of the Group is based on the New
Testament. (I know, 'cause I helped write it, and copied that piece
verbatim from a promotional leaflet from national headquarters; I don't
speak good enough German to write it any better.)
In the UK, it's accepted that as a Scout grows through the stages
of the Progressive Training Scheme, their understanding of the Scout
Promise and Law will deepen. They can start out by just saying the
appropriate promise, but should finish by living by the promise.
Even Beaver Scouts (age 6) have to promise "to love God". The idea is
there at the beginning, and strengthens with each age level. In the Scout
section (age 10), the advancement requirements start out with "know and
accept the Scout Promise and Law" (or words to that effect), and
progress on to doing a detailed study of the parts of the Scout Law
and their relevance to the Scout's own lifestyle.
UK Scouting has an "open door" policy, and the standard Scout insurance
covers prospective Scouts as well. Completing the joining requirements
normally takes four to six weeks, but it could easily take longer for a
young person to decide that Scouting is really for them.
Also, part of the Scout and Venture Scout Section programmes includes
inviting non-Scouts to take part in meetings and special activities
and finding out what they thought: If they liked it enough, they'll
come back and join; If not, you at least get a hint on how to improve
the programme. (Of course, the guests are also covered by the normal
There are very few activities that are restricted to fully paid-up
members of the Association. (Slide-for-life is the only one I know of
with a specific ruling against non-members taking part.) Most of the
other high-adventure activities are either open to the public in any
case, or require additional insurance for Scouts and non-Scouts alike.
Steve, thanks for forwarding the letter from Elliott Welsh. It's good
to get both sides of an argument, and on this list we tend to only see
one side. What I found most interesting was that the initial problem
was not that his son wouldn't believe in God, but that he, as a parent,
had to believe in God for his son to be in Scouting. If that's the
case, I think he has good grounds for complaining! (If the son was
brought up to be a confirmed atheist by age 5, then he wouldn't be able
to join in any case. That's a separate issue.)
The Scout Association in the UK has two standards of membership.
Those who wish to become "Members", and to wear the full uniform, must
accept the conditions of the Scout Promise and Law. Those who believe
in the principles of Scouting, but who cannot accept the Promise and
Law themselves, can still join as an "Associate Member". Associates
don't wear any form of Scout Uniform, just a special Associate's pin,
but can still be active in supporting the program in a Scout Group.
At no stage in the British Scout programme does a parent have to become
a Member of the Association in order for his or her child to become a
Member. All parents of Scouts are automatically members of the Group
Council, as are all others who support the workings of a Scout Group.
They do not ever need to be registered as either Member or Associate.
(The Group Council is almost equivalent to a BSA Chartered Org.)
> Can we not get the losers of these lawsuits to pay the legal costs?
> (I of course know we could not, but it would put an quick end to
> most of them.)
In the United Kingdom, the loser in any legal action must pay the costs
of both parties. (There are also limits set on the total costs in any
action.) I believe this system is also being used, on an experimental
basis, in some parts of the southeastern United States. It has reduced
the number of genuinely trivial lawsuits, but probably won't influence
something as important as Welsh v. BSA.
> However the documented and true purpose of scouting is to
> improve boys - physically, mentally, and MORALLY.
The aim of Scouting, at a global level, is "to help young people to
develop physically, intellectually, socially and spiritually."
This definition is relatively recent, and not all national Scout
organizations, BSA included, have taken it to heart. (Somehow, I don't
see that morality alone can ever have quite the same scope as social
and spiritual development.)
One of the problems BSA faces is the need to maintain their standards
(at least so that the major sponsors are happy) and yet keep the
program up-to-date and in-step with the rest of world Scouting.
I suspect that the Charter from Congress is one stumbling block: It
needs changing, but in the current political climate any change that
stands a good chance of being approved by Congress would be far too
extreme for the BSA traditionalists to contemplate. Which begs the
question: How critical is the Charter from Congress to the continued
future of the Boy Scouts of America?
David D. Miller
Scouting in Europe - A Unique Experience
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City