Culturally Sensitive Xmas
John Gallant (jag@PT.COM)
Tue, 10 Dec 1996 10:22:30 -0500
With the end of the year approaching and the issue of December Pack
meeting Themes approaching. I wanted to re-open a thread, that to me
is very important. I dredged this up from my last years postings. I
submit this to all Pack and scouting leaders who may not realize how things
"can appear" to a cub from *their (the Cubs)* perspective.
======= From Dec '95 Archives =======
[From e-mail by Michael Derleth <75112.1671@COMPUSERVE.COM>]
>I seem to remember a discussion about being sensitive to different
>religions and cultures in planning holiday parties for scout troops.
>If I can obtain enough advice from the members of this list, I would
>like to put on such a party, as an example for the leaders attending
>my December Scout Leader Roundtable.
I can speak from personable experience how "unsettling" a Christmas
theme can be on scouts who are not Christian. Where we used to live my
boys were the *only Jewish* scouts in the pack. The last two years we
were there the Pack put on a christmas theme party that included
presents, carols, and even Santa handing out the wrapped derby kits
to all the boys.
It was *very* difficult for us to be there, the first year my younger
son (as a tiger) was IN TEARS(!!!) because he is Jewish and did not think
that he would be able to get a derby kit to participate in the Tiger part
of the derby. As a parent I was devastated (!) and I still to this day
catch my breath when I think of it.
From an adult point of view, I could understand and accept the
issue of "Santa". But through the young, non Christian cubs, eyes this
meant that he was *not a part of the Pack*(!!). We have to realize, like
Michael indicated in his post on "Religious References" that the young
cubs: "may feel that they are in the wrong place and not welcome because
of their different religious upbringing". I can rationalize 'til I am
blue in the face about "accepting, tolerance, and not taking offense", but
seeing my son with tears streaming down his face was one H*ll of a slap
in the face by reality.
[Sorry about the tone, I have re-written this last line three times. I
am still shaking because of that memory.]
We ended up doing some of the events that we felt comfortable
with but did not do most of the stuff. We were there to "support" our
fellow scouts but we did not feel a "part" of the meeting.
Now let me offer a constructive idea for a Pack or Packs to join in
that IMHO is a good theme and experience:
My new Pack along with two other neighboring Packs join in a
Carnival night that the proceeds go to a local homeless shelter. All
the games are played by the scouts and their siblings. The "fee" is a
nickel or penny and all the kids "win" and get penny candy or 5+dime toys
for prizes. Our Den had the "Ring the Bottle" game, we had one little
girl who loved our game. She was just learning to walk and she would
"toddle" over to the bottles and carefully place one of the rings over
the nearest bottle. We would all cheer for her and offer her a chance
to pick a prize. She didn't want any of the "winnings" she just loved to
hear us all cheer for her :-) :-).
John A. Gallant
Asst. Cubmaster/Pack 29
Lima N.Y. / Letchworth District / Iroquois Trail Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City