Girls in BSA (long)
Don Tolin (dont@TRIB.COM)
Tue, 29 Aug 1995 13:10:35 -0600
I've viewed the posts on the topic with interest as a parent and Scouter.
I've tried to keep quiet, but can't anymore. Our family, including my two
girls have been very active in Scouting. My 12 year old son has been in Boy
Scouts for a little more than a year, has Star Rank, and is currently SPL.
My 10 year old Webelos son will complete arrow of light requirements in
September and cross over at the end of September. He's attended all of troop
activities with my older son and I, since we crossed over last year. Both
started as tiger cubs and my wife, myself, and my two daughters attended
activities as tiger families. We went to all of the Pack Meetings together
and the girls always participated actively. Both girls are now teenagers,
and have been in Girl Scouting since first grade, and have attended summer
camp every year except for this year because programs for the older girls
got overlooked. My wife served as Girl Scout Leader and has been Webelos Den
Leader the past two years. My twelve year old son has been den chief since
that time. My girls attended every meeting and helped the den with
activities. Absolutely no problems.
When my children were younger, besides belonging to Scouts, all four of my
children belonged to Camp Fire Boys and Girls. They went on outings, hikes,
overnights, and week long camps, together, with other boys and girls. There
were also teenage kids of both sexes with them. Of all the horrors some have
speculated "could happen," we had no experience with those type of problems.
I think our experience is typical and the girl-boy problems are the
exceptions, which you will always have.
This summer, the last night of Summer Camp for Webelos, my wife and
daughters joined us at Camp Buffalo Bill near Yellowstone Park, in the heart
of "grizzly country." My wife wanted to award the boys their "wittlin chips"
they earned at camp, as she is their Webelos Den Leader. She was unable to
attend the entire camp, because of Job's Daughter functions with my girls.
During the week, one mom had been at camp with her son. The following week,
another mom, was with our Troop at the same Summer Camp. At the end of the
week, several moms and sisters were in camp with us. During both weeks I was
at summer camp, the camp staff, included teenage girls who were also members
of Boy Scout Explorer Posts. Two weeks ago, I spent over a week at
Woodbadge. In two of the patrols, there was a woman in each. I heard the
usual comments about women in Scouts, but nevertheless we all "passed,"
including the women, and we all are working our tickets, including the
women. Times have changed, and exclusion rules really shouldn't be.
This past weekend we celebrated our Council's 75th anniversary with a
council mini-jamboree. In our troop, several wives came with their husbands.
In fact, our Scoutmaster's wife, is our troop, district, and now council
advancement chairman. She and her daughter spent a week this summer at
Philmont. This weekend, several daughters, ages 8-14, also stayed with us at
our overnight camp all three days and nights. The girls helped with some
activities, helped at camp, and went swimming with the boys. (My wife and
girls were at a Job's Daughter function and weren't able to attend,
otherwise they would have been there.) At this function, there were also
family members from other troops. Girls involved in explorer posts also
slept at the camporee, in the same explorer camps with the boys. As usual,
we just scheduled different facilities useage, like for bathrooms and
showers. This weekend, we're going hiking for 30 miles, up to a 13,000 foot
peak. Several wives will be there, as well as several younger children,
including girls. The 11 year old girl will probably make the boys work hard
to keep up with her!
I think we are all very cognizant of YPP rules, and are particulary
attentive to avoid mixed gender problems. I think everyone is. As was said
in other, no matter what you do, those who want to be sexually active, will
be, regardless of the rules and regarldless of the obstacles and barriers
well meaning leaders put in place. This is not a new problem. If that is the
reason for girls not to be in Boy Scouts, its the wrong reason. Besides, as
others have noted, these problems already exist, and the groups are
"separate" now. If girls want to join BSA, in addition to the explorer
posts, they should be allowed.
BTW, my youngest teenage girl, after helping and watching her brothers
wrestle in USA Freestyle and Greco-Roman for four years, put on her singlet
and wrestling shoes, and wrestled boys every weekend this past spring. At
State she was one of only two girls with over 600 boys competing. She placed
at State and qualified to wrestle at Western Regionals (their age group
nationals.) As a wrestling coach and mat official, I've probably already
heard every reason why girls shouldn't wrestle boys. But they do, and my
daughter will continue to, as long as she enjoys the program and has fun!
IMHO, Scouts should be the same way. If you have a good program, the kids
will want to belong.
I care very much about my teenage girls, and my two sons, and hopefully my
wife and I have taught them the values they need to take care of themselves,
to respect themselves, to respect boys, and to respect girls. Afterall, this
is the real world.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City