It started when I was about four-years-old. My oldest brother became a Cub Scout — and got a uniform and badges and all sorts of awesome awards and activities. As soon as I could read, I began pouring over Boys’ Life…and coveting. We didn’t even have Achievement Days/Activity Day back then (not that it compares, but still), so I begged my parents to let me be a Brownie in the Girl Scouts organization. Alas, the church leadership had strongly recommended avoiding the heathen group, which left the girls with…nothing.
For 43 years I’ve carried this uneasiness about the disparity between the programs provided for boys and girls, between the budgets allotted to the boys and girls, between the recognition given to boys and girls, about the excuses given for the disparity. As the mother of four girls, it bothers me more now than when I was young.
Even now, girls have a years-long program that results in a certificate and a piece of costume jewelry — often handed to them unceremoniously in sacrament meeting — while boys receive badge after badge after pin after pin and one recognition event followed by another that culminates in the ulitimate Court of Honor.
A couple of weeks ago a man in the ward called me to let me know that someone would be dropping by to collect my annual “voluntary” scouting donation. I took a deep breath and — for the first time in my life — made it clear I am not a “friend of scouting.”
In my best sweet-and-subservient-with-just-an-hint-of-rebellious-boat-rocking voice, I asked, “Is there a way to donate to the ward scout troop without donating to the the National Parks Council or the Boy Scouts organization itself?”
“When you contribute, it does go to our ward,” he said.
“I understood that the fee goes to the general and state organizations to ‘sponsor’ each boy as a scout. Is that wrong?”
“Yes, it just goes for our ward.”
“Here’s the thing. I think I should contribute to the program — especially since I have two boys in it now. But I don’t like paying the scouting salaries and I think the girls need more support in their programs.” Deep breath.
“Well, yea, it just goes to our boys.”
“OK, well let me look into it more. I’ll talk to my husband and you can get back with me.”
That’s the last I heard about it.
Apparently the need to vent about scouting comes to the surface every few years. And I’m overdue. I’ve written about Boy Scouts before. For years I’ve hoped to abolish scouting or, at least, stop the boys from asking me to do the Eagle projects for them. But today it’s at the surface for a reason that doesn’t concern the girls programs or demands that I donate at all. It came to the surface because of my youngest son’s first Pack Meeting. (Is that capitalized? Is it the meeting’s proper name?)
First, I want to make something clear. I love our ward scout leaders. God bless them. It’s one of only two callings I think is worse than mine. And they do a fabulous job. They are loving and caring and reliable and the boys have a blast. They are doing something I hope I never have to do — and doing an amazing job. The following complaints are not aimed at them, but rather at the further disparity the guidelines they are following produce. (I don’t know exactly where the guidelines originated or who imposed them. They were said to have come from an activation study of some kind.)
Samson is now an 11-year-old scout. He loves it, loves it, loves, it. Caleb just turned eight this month and is “finally a Cub Scout!” He is so thrilled to be part of the den that he wanted to be a Cub Scout for Halloween. Everything is so exciting and fun to him. As soon as he got the materials, he earned his Bobcat badge. Although I usually forgo Pack Meeting and let my husband get the “mother’s pin” — because I fundamentally reject the idea that mothers should get a pin for what the boys are supposed to be doing and if the boys can’t really do the stuff then why are the mothers doing it and then giving the boys phony awards for it — but since it was his first meeting, I went along.
In my limited Pack Meeting experience, this meeting seemed odd. It wasn’t just that the boys lined up one after the other to get the patches and belt loops and badges and beads — and all manner of cool stuff the girls never get at all, but I digress. It was that every single boy got an award — whether he earned an award or not.
Each boy who hadn’t earned any kind of official recognition, was given a special certificate for “working on their awards.” So the boatload of awards itself isn’t enough to keep the boys plugging along, now we have to award them for breathing in between gathering all their awards.
So now all you Silver Beaver wannabes can pile on and tell me that I don’t understand all the good things BSA does for our boys and how the girls don’t need as much to stay active and how you hope your daughter marries an Eagle Scout and blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard it all before and I can take it again. But I wonder if we’ll ever, ever, ever start treating the boys like they can handle life without coddling and special privileges and start treating the girls like they deserve a cut of the action (and budget).
Amen, sister! Amen
I just developed a spreadsheet to estimate Cub Scout award costs for the pack, to help our primary president with budget planning.
We’re going to spend about $700 this year on awards. There’s no equivalent for the girls.
I think most of what the Cub Scouts does is just wasteful and does nothing to prepare for Boy Scouts.
And I’ve never given for FOS (then again, I don’t live in Utah), but I give a lot “in kind” to the youth program.
Hear, hear. This father of three daughters, whose current calling is working with the Cub Scouts, feels your pain, Alison. You are right on.
I’m more of the opinion that Scouting does wonderful things for the boys, if it’s led well, and I also think that the girls need just as much of a dynamic and inclusive program for them. Some wards, the YW leaders invent this and the girls get some great opportunities. Other wards, the Scouting program is so poorly implemented that sometimes seems like it might as well not be there.
I’ve never seen a Pack Meeting like the one you describe.
My wife would probably agree with you. She hates to see more money spent on boys activities than those for girls.
I never heard of anyone in the Church discouraging parents from having girls participate in Girl Scouts. Our daughter was in Brownies for several years in Omaha. Our daughter-in-law in Draper is enrolling our granddaughter in Brownies. We have bought huge numbers of Girl Scout Cookies every year, which directly supports GSA.
On the other hand, the Girl Scouts are definitely on the national level a committed feminist organization, sort of the Democratic Party equivalent to the politically affiliated youth movements in Norway. The Church would have problems being an official sponsor.
I don’t know anything about any Cub Scout “Award for Breathing”. Sounds like a bit of left wing PC thinking infecting the local BSA at your location.
Decades ago, the Church actually sponsored an experiment in affiliating with the Civil Air Patrol as a youth activities organization. The CAP is an official auxiliary of the US Air Force and its primary irganization involves adult pilots who fly small planes and suppirt aerial search and rescue. They have a program for teenagers of both sexes. The uniforms are derived from Air Force standard. Activities revolve around learning about aviation and visiting Air Force bases and riding on planes, and it encourages eventual recruitment to the Air Force throughnenlistment, ROTC or Air Force Academy enrollment. After a couple of years the Church decided against continuing the sponsorship and reaffirmed its use of Scouting in the US.
Which raises the issue of the extent to which the Church sponsors Scouting outside the US and Canada. I don’t recall seeing the Church in Japan sponsoring Japanese Scouting units. Tjhere were just those for Boy Scouts of America on military bases. I don’t recall anything like the official Scouting relationship being repirted in the Church News for couhtries outside Englush-speaking North America.
I assume this means that the Church’s affiliation with Scouting in the US and Canada is very much an historical artifact, one that has been mutually beneficial. As an early sponsor, the Church has established itself in BSA as a major influence, with LDS scouts a much larger minority than in the population as a whole. This has influenced Scouting in the US to remain a movement that supports Church values and needs. In particular, it is much more emphatic about not supporting atheism or the normalization of LGBT sexual orientation, and has had to choose to side with its traditional church sponsors at the expense of losing community sponsors like local police and fire departments where local government has become hostile to groups that maintain traditional sexual morality. They have lost general community support through regional United Way charity programs in parts of California and other states. That has made BSA even more dependent on the Church and other churches to sustain its infrastructure financially, even as LDS membership and number of troops have grown.
From the Church petspective, BSA not only supports Aaronic Priesthood activities, but also creates interconnections between the Church and other churches and sponsors nationally, where it would be unthinkable for some Evangelical pastor to try to get BSA to kick out Mormons for not being “Christian”. Much like BYU, the BSA has had a side benefit of helping to “normalize” and legitimize the Church to many non-Mormons. After all the Nineteenth Century propaganda that depicted Mormons as predominantly foreignets from Britain and Scandinavia and not loyal Americans, BSA involvement reaffirms Mormon patrotism and traditional values.
Indeed, a response to anyone who calls Mormonism a “cult” is to point to Mormon participation in Scouting to show we are more tied to traditional American values than many of our critics, especially those on the political left.
My son (7) has just started scouting. I’m a den leader and pack leader for the community cub scouts (Not the church group). My oldest daughter (9) has been complaining about this since day 1 as well. And I agree with her! She does have other activities that he does get to do (activity days) and so we tell her that her activities and just different.
But in case you didn’t know it, girls 13 and up CAN join the local Boy Scout Troops in Venture(ing). Boy Scouts and Varsity scouts don’t accepts girls, but Venturing scouts are for both male and female. I don’t think the church allows it though…but a community venturing scout troop would. We don’t currently have either a Boy Scout or a Venturing troop in my area, so I’ve told my daughter that when my son gets to Boy Scouts that I’ll organize a community Venturing troop (Even with just the 2 of them) and will get her involved too if she still wants to. Check with your church unit and ask about a Venturing troop for your girls. I don’t know if church leadership will go for it, but I don’t know if they can refuse and keep their BSA charter… worth looking into.
Our ward doesn’t do Scouting. And, frankly, I don’t think our young man (yes, “young man” singular) is missing anything: the YM’s leader is focusing on Duty to God and tailoring it in such a way that it meets the boy’s spiritual and non-spiritual needs.
I went through Scouts as a kid, and I remember really enjoying Cubs and doing Boy Scouts until I was, like, 13, then getting my Eagle when I was 17 1/2. It’s not a bad program, I don’t think, but I’m also not convinced of its value, at least in the modern, kids-are-overprogrammed-anyway world (unless, of course, the kids want to do it, rather than do it out of institutional/familial pressure).
So I guess my boosterism goes something like this: I probably wouldn’t do it again, but I don’t regret having done it. And as for FOS, we don’t have scouting, so we don’t have to deal with the annual angst.
On the other hand, the Church does not build and operate its own camps for the boys; they just use BSA camps. But it does operate its own camps for girls, and they are much more lavish than their BSA equivalents. Elder Robert C. Oaks explained that some in Church leadership felt that the girls should have a “roughin’ it” experience to build character, but the Church discovered that many girls who have so such inclinations towards roughing it were being ostracized. So they built a very large, luxurious camp in Utah, with cabins, not tents, and with plumbing and electricity and all the amenities.
In Utah, maybe. (Okay, the Church owns Camp Liahona in upstate New York, too, but I don’t think it’s primarily a Girls Camp place.)
The existence of Boy Scouts vitiates the need for the Church to build its own camps for boys. I suspect, however, that more tithing dollars/member donations flow to the BSA than the amount of money it requires to build/maintain the Church’s camps, however.
I hate Scouts!!! Not really, I think it is a great program, but implementation is a problem. My husband has been involved with Scouts in our wards for 8 of our 10 years of marriage. There are very few boys who care and only show up if there is nothing else to do. I resent all of the time my husband spends working with other people’s spoiled children who don’t care instead of being at home with his own children, 4 daughters.
I feel the same way about the budgets. We have decided not to send our daughter to activitiy days because after reading the booklet the goals and activites, in my opinion, are those that should be done at home with mother (at least for an 8 year old). The programs don’t even compare. People usually brush me off as some sort of feminist crying because I only have girls. I have been told that I would feel different if I had boys!!!!!
We have started a “club” for our girls that is sort of like Cub Scouts. My husband concluded that there is nothing that is taught in Cub or Boy Scouts that is not also beneficial for girls. We will change this to a Venture program when they are old enough.
My husband has switched most of his efforts to a district level. For the most part the boys he interacts with now are those that actually want to be there and enjoy Scouting for scouting and not because it is something to do.
I like your article, Alison. You make a lot of good points. I remember helping my little brother memorize all his stuff for cub scouts. I never felt left out of scouts, but I was very involved in 4-H, and my brothers were not. I guess that was my mom’s way of compensating.
My husband had a funny experience with scouting when we lived in Italy a few years ago. He was called to be the Young Men’s President in our branch. The Branch President was really nervous to call him for a couple of reasons. #1 the language barrier. We had only been in Italy for a couple of months. #2 He had just called him to be Branch Clerk a few weeks before. #3 Scout camp was in two weeks, and he wanted my husband to go. He was shocked when my husband (who generally doesn’t say no to callings, and in any case loves scouting) told him yes right off.
It had been a dozen or so years since the Church really did anything with scouting in our area of Italy. So scout camp was a new experience for everyone. They didn’t do much of the normal scouting activities like whittling, building fires, or whatever other stuff they do at scout camp. The boys spent most days playing soccer. And the leaders had a gigantic tent completely full of food, and had several animated discussions about which type of cheese was appropriate for a certain dish they were planning to make. They also drove down to the nearest village for fresh bread every morning. At every meal, they would eat the first course, then carefully wipe off all the plates and continue to the next course. And the leaders wouldn’t allow the boys to cook, because they were afraid they would ruin the food.
I don’t know if this renaissance in international church scouting involvement was limited to Italy (nor whether it was ultimately successful). I’d love to hear others’ experiences of LDS scouting outside the English-speaking church.
I’m going to reiterate a couple of the problems with scouting.
First, it isn’t really a program for all the boys. WHen the kids are deacons, lots of them participate. But, by they time they are 14 or so, only a minority are interested. In my ward, I would estimate less than a third are still involved by that age actively.
Second, Friends of Scouting is a joke. It doesn’t provide a dime for the ward scouts. Not a cent for campouts, awards, etc. It pays for the Scout executives both locally and nationally. Arguably, it helps subsidize the camp facilities. But, in ward after ward, everyone is told that it is for the ward kids — when it is not.
Third, the difference between young women and young men programs is utterly embarrassing. I suspect in the vast majority of wards, the difference is probably 3-4 times in favor of the young men.
I was recently called as the Primary President, and I was appalled to find out that the budget for Cub Scouts/11 Year old scouts was over 4 times that of the Activity Day girls while there are a half as many scouts as girls. I don’t know how our church can talk about equality of the sexes when that type of dichotomy exists.
I don’t think Scouting is a bad program. I have two sons in Cub Scouts who love it. They receive tons of awards (things they actually earn) but it’s still almost ridiculous how many patches they come home with. After awhile with the shirt cluttered, it’s just another award. There’s nothing special about it when you receive an award (or 6) at every pack meeting.
I really don’t have a problem with the Cub Scout program; I just think it should be disassociated from the Church. Our ward is gung ho about Scouting and most of the boys earn their Eagle by 14, so I don’t think this will be happening any time soon.
The only valid argument that I get from the leaders to have the scouting program is that it is a missionary tool for the less active boys (who come to scouts but won’t come to church.)
If that’s so, again, aren’t the less active girls just as important? Luckily, as Primary President, I have the ability to affect change. The budget will definitely be different next year.
I’ve never heard of anyone in the Church discouraging joining the Girl Scouts. I was a Girl Scout, liked it, and flummoxed my bishop by asking him why the Church didn’t do Girl Scouts as well as Boy Scouts. (Now I know why; they are set up completely differently.) My brothers had uniformly terrible experiences in Scouts and I would not be sorry to see the whole thing scrapped and a program designed for boys that is more like what the YW have.
I have two daughters and they love Activity Days, not that it’s incredible or anything but at least they have it. We’re looking forward to girls’ camp for the first time next summer. (The Church just built a large camp for our half of the state; I guess they’re doing more of that now. I haven’t heard of it being terribly luxurious. When I was in YW we bounced every year between BSA camps or whatever we could find, which made for a nice variety.)
Yes, I would like to see the budgets match.
I should have added that my husband also hated Scouts. He never made it past Tenderfoot. I guess we’re just not a Boy-Scouting family.
You know those times when you just get really bugged about something and run out an blog about it and then you wake up wondering what you were thinking and afraid to see the comments?
But thanks for — at least up until comment #15 — making the read not as painful as I expected. :) Your comments and support are really appreciated.
As for the church discouraging Girls Scouts, maybe someone older than I can help. It was about 1969–1971ish. I was just old enough for Brownies and the church made an official statement about why it did not — and would not — sponsor the Girl Scout program. I was only 6–7, but it seemed to be clearly discouraged, enough so that it was something of a controversy in the area (I grew up in Orem, Utah).
I had a bunch of friends already in Brownies and, yes, I was coveting the awesome uniforms they wore to school once each week. Half way through school my…hm…third grade year, I think…my parents broke down (which they NEVER did) and let me join the troop. After the “fly up” ceremony, my friends dropped out, so that four months was my one experience.
To be honest, it wasn’t a great experience, but from my perspective (which is that of a little kid) it seems to have been due to the fact that the church — and therefore most church members, which were the vast majority in Orem — were not involved. The leader was a nice woman, but mostly I remember that she sweat profusely, chain smoked, the location changed almost weekly, and we never really had anything planned to do. One week we made tissue paper flowers, but that’s the only thing I remember besides sitting in a circle on the floor listening to her talk and playing freeze tag in her yard after the meeting while waiting for our moms to come get us.
The day camp was fun. We cooked on a fire and did crafts and camp stuff. Except that my new birthday watch was stolen. And we had to “clean the biffy.” It wasn’t so much the toilet cleaning, it was that we had to call it “the biffy.” Even my 8-year-old self just thought that was embarrassing. (Was that a local thing?)
Anyway, maybe someone who better remembers the whole Girl Scouts dismiss God thing (or something) can relate what I’m referring to.
Sarah, that sounds awesome. I would totally be an Italian scout leader if it meant cooking and discussing the appropriate cheese! (Seriously—I’m ready to sign up.)
Sorry Alison, you have to call it the biffy. You just do, even in California. :)
I was a kid in the early 80’s, so I have no idea about what was going on when you were a Brownie.
I have to throw my comments in here. Coming from a ward where the YW budget was higher than the YM. The RS budget was much higher than both the High Priest and Elder’s budgets. Having been seen in every instance on bishop’s councils where men receive MUCH harsher judgments for the same and lesser sins. Where the women in the ward whined because the Mother’s day gifts weren’t good enough (but the men got nothing for Father’s day). In a church where going to general priesthood seemed to be just a big chastisement (I quit going). My wife would consistent report how wonderful the women’s general conference was and I consistently hear how they’re daughters of God (they are, but it would be nice if men occasionally would hear how they’re sons of God). Living in a country where the unemployment is much higher for men. Working in a company where several women have complained to me because they keep be pushed into management (gee wish I had that problem). OK, I’ll stop. But I could go on for an hour on other hypocrisies. I’m sure all this ranting makes me sexist and women victims.
I will however be unsubscribing as there is nothing uplifting or helpful here.
I have photos of my wife in the 50s when she was a Brownie. It was in CA, outside the Church__nothing inside the Church for her. Her father was a Scoutmaster outside the Church, her brothers Scouts out the Church.
Well, it’s an honor to follow parksy.
Here, here, Alison. I wanted nothing more than to river rafting and rock climbing and everything else. Instead we made necklaces out of pony beads. The photos of the boys doing those things on the ward bulletin board made me miserable each week.
When I’d complain that boys got to do that and girls didn’t, they’d say, “Well, that’s only because girls aren’t interested in that! You could organize that if you wanted to but you don’t, so it’s your fault.” When I was class president and on BYC and in charge of organizing our activities, I said I wanted to do stuff like that, and I was told that (a) YW activities have to be in the designated time (Wednesday 7-8:30pm), (b) YW activities must be in the church building because there is too much liability and not enough time to drive somewhere else, (c) there is only about $12 per girl per year for the activities budget, and any one of those activities (rafting, rock climbing) costs many times that in itself and would leave zero for so much as a pony bead for the rest of the year, and (d) we weren’t allowed to have overnights–which they called “sleep-overs”–ever. When I’d complain that boys got to do that and girls didn’t, they’d say, “Well, that’s only because girls aren’t interested in that! You could organize that if you wanted to but you don’t, so it’s your fault.” And I’d say “I’m interested, and want to organize that!” and they’d say “Well, how are you going to do it and fit in with the aforementioned criteria?” And I’d say, “How do the boys do it and fit within the aforementioned criteria??!!” And they’d say, well, they get exemption from the criteria because they can’t complete their badges without doing those things, so we *have* to exempt them, even though those are the rules. We can’t just exempt you because you *want* an exemption, it has to be that you have to be exempted.”
And at that point I would want to kill myself.
Oh darn, I took too long to type and didn’t get to follow parksy after all. Pity.
Oh, and then at the end I was usually called a crybaby and told that I shouldn’t view it as the church prohibiting me from doing those things, because if I really wanted to do them, there was nothing stopping me from going with my family or a group of friends.
Interesting, we all have different experiences. In my ward the girls DO go rafting DO go to a nicer camp each year than the boys. DO get more recognition in front of the ward for their accomplishments (they come in front of the ward for just going to camp). I’m sorry if you women feel victimized because cub scouts get more money through Primary in your wards than do the activity day girls — and that may happen in our ward too. But its probably the only time in their lives they’ll get more.
In fact most YM that actually do scouting do it through schools or other organizations in our area and the parents pay out of their own pockets. Some young men didn’t come to youth activities because they didn’t want to do scouting — hopefully they’re not too traumatized because they really wanted to do something besides what the YM were doing.
P.S. Cynthia, I hope the comment about wanting to kill yourself was just an expression. In all honesty I true compassion for women that are truly victimized having had sisters go through some horrible mistreatment. I also have been so low myself as to have tried suicide. I just hope we’re not making mountains over mole hills here when there are real issues in the world. I partially was just trying to bring perspective to the discussion and honestly have been to brought down by the whining.
Happily, opinions about what girls should be doing does seem to be widening out. Girls in my ward routinely do things like target shooting and whatnot, and these days they do that terrifying thing at camp involving ropes and trees that I really hope I will never be asked to do. None of that was on the table when I was a YW, except for camp. Oh, and a really long backpacking trip our ward took pre-camp one year, that was excellent.
But AFAIK the YW budget is almost always a fraction of the YM/Scout budget, and the Activity Days budget is miniscule.
Well, Parksy, if that was the way it was in your area, it must be that way for all areas of the church. Because, really, women should quit whining when they are treated so much better than the men, or, in this case, the girls than the boys. Fyi, blogger are here to vent about certain things, so if it sounds a little whiny, please don’t whine about it. It makes you double whiny!
Thanks Jacob — I never said it was that way in all the church, perhaps you should read all my posts (24). Most of the blog posts I read are NOT whiny — but assuming you’re male due to your name and you whining about whining must make you sound triple whiny. But interestingly you would point my whining out and none of the other whiny posts — maybe you’re just sexist.
Has anyone considered that the boys’ programs get more budget simply because they are more expensive programs? The awards are outrageously expensive. My experience after being in a bishopric for the past 4 years is that once you remove the scout awards from the boys’ programs, the girls’ programs actually have a higher budget.
“My experience after being in a bishopric for the past 4 years is that once you remove the scout awards from the boys’ programs, the girls’ programs actually have a higher budget.”
My experience is that after you remove all the rooms except three from Bill Gates’ house, my house is actually bigger than Bill Gates’ house.
That may well be true in some places, but it doesn’t even rise to the level of cold comfort because that additional money is being spent on the boys, not the girls.
And Cynthia, my sisters always wanted to be doing what the YM were doing, too, although I’m not sure they dipped into the Catch-22 world you did, partly because I don’t think they wanted to spend the time and effort.
Honestly, it is the weird “up is down, left is right” of Blue’s comment, and the kind of dishonest, Kafkaesque run-around I described in my earlier comment, that make me crazy, even more than the original inequality.
I would think the more liberal minded folks around here would be in favor of the church linking arms so tightly with an outside organization.
I thought the point of the BSA was to teach timid young males that they should become risk-taking adult males. Sure they talk about being honest and stuff, but it’s really about developing the courage to leave the safety of the home. Since adult females should adopt low-risk behaviors, there isn’t a huge push for a society to invest in courage-boosting activities for young females. While it’s true that some females think it would be fun to risk drowning by going rafting or that it would be a healthy rush of adrenaline to shoot a gun at enemies, society needs them to learn to avoid any and all risk. And that doesn’t cost as much; most females are born and raised to be timid. When you are physically weaker, why wouldn’t you be scared of strong rivals?
I’m honestly surprised that Ceejay has the time to neglect her job as a staff writer for The Onion in order to troll Mormon blogs…
Hmm. I am not going to say much more than I really, really disliked scouting. Loved camping, not the badge grind and make work activities.
Personally, I would love to see the whole BSA-LDS connection severed. Kids who want the Eagle and stuff can join a community troupe and not be stuck with people who aren’t interested – win win for everyone.
Then it would also be much easier to equalize the budgets for YW/YM and tailor a program to fit the kids concerned. I was fortunate enough to have leaders who scrapped the scouting thing entirely because not one of us was interested. We voted on stuff and did it instead, and attendance shot up to almost 100%. Taxidermy, boxing, football, floor hockey, movies – it was all good.
My 2 cents, anyway.
My point was that in our local experience, the girls actually have more money for activities, because the boys have to spend so much on the awards.
Of course, the badge/award cost (all of which goes to BSA) is just a variation on the Friends of Scouting schtick. It makes the rest of us support the executive structure of the BSA organization. Unlike the church which provides materials to members mostly at cost, the BSA award sales makes a very tidy profit.
Blue may be right, but that is all the more reason to kick the BSA to the curb.
I am 58 years old and my stated goal is to live to see the church and BSA divorce.
dangermom (#18), you have confirmed my worst suspicions about Girl Scouts. No wonder the church keeps them at a distance. ;)
parksy (#19), it’s weird how you keep commenting, even though you’ve “unsubscribed.” Anyway, you’re the other shoe I was waiting to drop.
Either you’re not from the US or you’re a liar. But I’d be interested in hearing your budget run-down. In every instance when I have been privy to the budget (when there were youth programs implemented) the scouts were the single, largest line item.
I’ve seen this, too. Not always (I had two high school friends who had abortions and both were excommunicated, one at 15 — but, then again, I’ve never known a teen-age boy who had an abortion…), but frequently. Most of the time, however, it was either stated or seemed to be due to the fact that the boys had the priesthood and the girls did not. Often (such as in college), the boys were endowed, priesthood holding, returned missionaries and the girls (that they screwed around with…) weren’t endowed and, obviously, didn’t hold the priesthood. You know, with great power comes with great responsibility.
As with my own kids, however, I do believe that those with equal power/privileges should have equal responsibility and accountability. So to the extent that this double standard exists, I don’t think it’s right. While I do get off on feminist-sounding rants, in my life I’ve probably ranted more on the guy’s side. Fairness is important to me, not promoting one gender (or race or whatever) over another.
So, you just live in a ward where all the women are rude and tactless? Where they haven’t been taught to be gracious when receiving a gift (of any kind)? Maybe you just need to move to a civil ward. I’ve never been to ward like that. My fellow ward members have always been largely decent.
As a kid, women got flowers, men got nothing — and Mother’s Day was an over-the-top tribute and Father’s Day was a regular sacrament meeting. I’ve written about that, too. If we celebrate one, we should celebrate the other. I’d be fine with both being ignored in church, frankly.
I agree with this and have also written about this gender disparity. I think the women get patted on the head too much and the men get scolded too much. Maybe it’s still part of the rights/responsibilities thing, but (and I’ve written about this) I crave actual direction from leaders rather than just stroking.
Hi Alison Moore Smith,
I do appreciate your thouhgtful comments — that is an honest expression. I did unsubscribe to Times and Seasons in my google reader, unfortunately because I selected the ‘Notify me of followup comments’ on the first posting, I still get notified; but I will be blocking these notifications through my email’s spam facility. Then you can slander and call me a liar to your heart’s content and I won’t feel obliged to defend myself.
I am in the US and I am not lying. At the time I was in the bishopbric and then later in the young men’s there were two accounts – one from the church and one that held the ‘scouting money’. The Scouting money is what the boys themselves earned through fund raisers and thus not pulled from any church funds. I understood the YM to get less from the church because they had the self-earned funds. Whether this was just our ward or not I don’t know. As I recall the separate scouting fund has since disappeared.
You are right, as I mentioned earlier, that the primary does give more to the boys because of the cub scouting program though when I saw it, it was not a separate line item but full under ‘primary’ and was thus, I presume, at the discretion of the Primary president. I’m not the biggest fan of cub scouts, but the BSA at the time did a lot for me and my development as a young man and am thus grateful for it.
Having grown up in the church and as long as I can remember, I’ve been told that basically, “Women are better and more spiritual than men and thus men are given the Priesthood because they need it and women don’t.” And never have I considered holding the Priesthood gives me more ‘power’ or makes me more responsible than women (who have the ability to bring life into this world — not denying men’s part in this but rather honor women for their greater sacrifice), except the ‘power’ of giving blessings. The Priesthood was given for men to bless others not themselves. The instances I saw in the bishopbric were regardless of endowment of men or women, etc — consistently men were punished more severly and I’ve had a Stake President confirm that fact. I think you’ll find men are typically more compassionate to women than to other men as you can tell from most male postings on your blog.
Thank you for the lively discussion, but I’ll move on to other church related blogs where it’s more spiritual/uplifting/mentally stimulating.
You literally couldn’t have scripted a better demonstration of the core dynamics which allow serious gender inequalities in the Church to persist than Parksy’s last comment.
41-As a primary president, I can tell you that I don’t have much discretion in the budge for cub scouts. I have to budget a set amount per boy for scouting and include that in the entire budget request. For our ward, that is $75 per boy aged 8-11. That amount ends up being far more that the rest of the budget for primary supplies, teacher training meetings, activities, nursery supplies, and activity days girls. I submit two budgets: one with the same amount requested per each girl, and one where the girls are allocated far less–about 1/3 of the amount per boy. The second is more likely to be approved. And it is more in line what what our leaders spend–as several commenters have noted, boy scout awards are expensive, and our activity days leaders are able to do similar things with our girls for far less money.
Another problem is see with cub scouts vs activity days girls is the disparity between the child to leader ratios. For our 8-11 year old boys we have wolf, bear, webelos, and 11-year old scout leaders, most of whom are called as couples, plus the cubmaster and cub scout committee chair. For the 8-11 year old girls, we have 2 activity days leaders. It is good that scouts has some structure and training, but it is very slow to call people to scout positions because of the paperwork and background checks required, and then it’s hard to get the leaders to go through all of the requisite training. Our activity days leaders don’t have to jump through those hoops, but they also don’t have the same organizational support. In our area, we are fortunate to be able to send all of our girls to the same day camp that we send our cub scouts to. It ends up being cheaper for the girls to participate because they aren’t earning the awards that have to be purchased through the scout council store.
I don’t think BSA is inherently bad, but I would like to see it divorced from the church. Let the boys (and girls over 13) who want to participate do so in a community troop with leaders who actually chose to be there.
Cynthia L. (#21 and beyond) can I just say that I <3 you. :) Beautifully said.
I love rafting and I pitched in the first girls’ little league in Orem. But I don’t love everything “boyish.” I also put myself through college, in part, with pageant winnings. So I’ve got a girly side, too.
The point should be made that girls don’t necessarily want a Boy Scout clone with their gender inserted. They just want something in the same ballpark. When my brother was at the Jamboree, my big summer church activity was to crochet a hot pad.
I don’t care if the girls want to rough it in the mountains, or have an enormous beauty shop makeover, I just think they should have funds to do some things THEY enjoy, whatever they are. Maybe we can stop acting like learning to lash a latrine or getting a bowling belt loop is somehow enormously elevated in importance to scrapbooking or having pedicure night.
And while we’re at it, can we stop declaring “campouts” turn boys in to men, but girls at “sleep overs” are the root of all evil.
One year in Boca, all the Young Men in our ward certified in SCUBA. (Cost about $200 per kid, I think?) As one of the YW leaders, I asked if thee girls were included. No. I asked if they could do a comparable activity. After some hemming and hahing I got a, well, ok, bring us your ideas for approval.
In the time before I moved, we presented four or five ideas (all things the girls came up with, none costing nearly as much, all things we could administer ourselves, etc. (one was, for example, a nail/hair/sleepover thing)). None of the ideas were approved while I lived there as.
So, in theory they were open to the idea of the girls doing some big thing, but none of the things the girls brought up were deemed valuable enough to actually approve. I mean, who cares if you can do your hair? But if there’s a tsunami, then SCUBA is a valuable life saving skill, I guess. And the pottery merit badge means you can eat food in dishes, after all humanity has been extinguished. And the stamp collecting merit badge means we will have something really cool to look at while we’re in the fallout shelters after the “big one.” Or something.
Just because male leaders don’t personally like girl stuff doesn’t mean the girl stuff isn’t as valuable as the boy stuff.
Allison Moore Smith –
Here in North Texas, it’s commonplace for YW to have a higher per capita budget (I personally know of several cases).
What they don’t tell you is that the YM can often fundraise. Although in our stake, it’s banned, so all of the extra YM expenses for scout camp come out of parents’ pockets (another reason why no one here gives to FOS).
Sorry I called you a liar. It was hyperbole, but should have made that clear. Apologies.
So the young women in your wards got more…because you didn’t include the scouting funds. OK. But that hardly brings any parity, because the church organizations do include scouting.
It’s my understanding (from LDSTech) that wards are not supposed to have separate funds for scouting. Scouting is specified to be paid for through the Budget Allowance, with the only allowable exception being other funding for ONE annual camp. So if your wards really don’t fund scouting, then (a) they are an anomaly, (b) I have no problem with them except that (c) they aren’t following the program.
I’m happy to tell you what wards I’ve been in in the last two decades (Boca Raton, Sunset Heights 2nd, Eagle Mountain 1st, Lindon 6th). What wards are you referring to that don’t fund scouting?
If we have x boys who need x badges and x pins and x belt loops x beads and x neckerchiefs and X books and x day camps…the only “discretion” is in, say, how much MORE do we provide for cupcakes after the meeting. The program is outlined specifically and every little bell and whistle has a markup.
[Oh, what Rachel said.]
I’ve heard that, too. It’s been debated here and on MormonMomma (and elsewhere) over and over. It’s certainly not a doctrinal statement, but a (stupid) one in the pile of how-people-try-to-justify-something-they-can’t-really-make-sense-of. Of course, almost every time I’ve heard it, it comes from a man (or a woman repeating what a man told her). But IMO suggesting that men “need” it to bolster their slacking spirituality is sexist (coming from women) and a stupid way to assuage guilt (coming from men).
So when GAs talk about Priesthood Power and Priesthood Power and The Power of the Priesthood it’s just to give you self-esteem?
Please, please. Let’s not go to the “men have the priesthood, women have babies” argument again. I know you’re new here, but it’s been overdone.
“What they don’t tell you is that the YM can often fundraise.” They’re not supposed to–YM and YW are supposed to have the same policy about fundraising. Scouting is used as a loophole–YM’s extra fundraisers become “Scout activities” rather than Young Men’s activities.
I’d like to invite you all to contribute liberally to the next Friends of Times and Seasons campaign. All funds will be used to buy hot chocolate and gruyere cheese for our upcoming “Silver Blogger” activity. Please leave your check with Alison. We do accept money orders.
I nominate #30 for Best Comment of the Week.
Oh, wait. Wrong blog.
My favorite internet conversation staple is the take my ball and go home comment, followed by the why I didn’t go home comment. I’ve been watching it for twenty years, since my first Prodigy account and 2400 baud modem – and it makes me as happy now as it did then. Really, it never gets old.
The church should divorce itself from the Boy Scouts. That’s all I have to say about that.
A useful exercise for posters here might to discern why the leaders of the Church support Scouting in the US, and encourage stake presidents and bishops to be supportive. There must be a reason. If one can understand the reason, then all the dissonance might disappear. Without that understanding, it is so easy to quibble.
There must be a reason…
what do you suggest is the reason?
Alison: I was in Girl Scouts from 1967 to 1973 in Louisiana. I don’t think my dad (the bishop) would have let me be in it if he felt the Church did not approve of participation. I do remember some discussion that the Church would not form a relationship with GSA like it had with BSA. But my troop met in our LDS meetinghouse. I was the only Church member in the troop. None of the troop leaders were Church members.
I would like to see the Church leave its partnership with BSA. My son quit Scouts at age 14 and left the church at 15. I’m not implying causality, but there was nothing for him to do since he didn’t like Scouts and our ward in Utah was dedicated to Scouts.
Now my ward in Utah (same ward) has “high adventure” activities for the YM that are not Scout activities: mountain biking, hiking. They have a brother called as the “high adventure specialist.” (I’m not kidding.) They also have several Scout campouts. The YW go to the same boring Church campground every summer. No electricity, no hot water, by the way. The YW camp is all about spirituality and some girl stuff. No adventure. I think I will call my YW leaders and offer to have all the YW go hike in southern Utah with me.
Here in Champaign, IL, we have three wards (Mahomet, Champaign, and Urbana) that share the cost and staffing of the Cub Scout program. Part of this is because there are not very many 8-11-year-old boys, so there is no reason to have separate Cub Scout programs in each ward. Another part is to spread out the cost. Instead of each ward shelling out the money necessary for the awards, it is split evenly.
Many of the girls in the three wards are involved in community Girl Scout troops. I have heard of no recent church dissuasion on the issue. I won’t argue that it didn’t happen in the 60s, 70s, or 80s. If someone said it happened, I’ll trust you. Heck, I was still a baby back then.
When I was growing up, the YW and YM alternated years for High Adventures. My mum was the YW president and then the Girls Camp Advisor for years. I remember one time when they went to Mammoth Caves for a week. Mum came home with her clothes caked in mud and clay, lots of pictures, and a huge group of very happy YW.
I don’t think the church will ever sever its ties with the BSA, but I find it interesting that the church does NOT have the same ties with the Scouting programs outside the US.
And yes, I enjoyed my years in the BSA and was thrilled to be called to work with the Scouting program finally. I earned my Eagle (Mum and Dad supported me, but the work was all my own), and the recognition for them was for supporting me. But I definitely know that my experiences are not held by all, and that makes me sad. What scouting should be (for both the BSA and the GSA) and what scouting is are, far too often, incredibly different.
I started writing my thoughts and then as I finished my house started shaking and in a panic I closed the computer.
Oh well,I’m not going to rewrite anything.
Great points Alison!
Our Primary spends about $40 a month on BSA awards and can only afford to give the girls around $10-$15 per month (about $5 per activity), it’s insane and incredibly frustrating. In reality, the cub scouts aren’t even doing anything that great either, we spend all of our money at the BSA store on badges and belt loops not activities.
“A useful exercise for posters here might to discern why the leaders of the Church support Scouting in the US”
Actually, ji, I think that’s a terrible idea, assuming it consists of anything except straightforward quoting of what the leaders have said on the matter directly. It seems to me that in the past, when members have undertaken to concoct reasons why they think a certain not-universally-loved policy exist, going beyond what the prophets have said, they ended up doing more harm than good.
I wonder if everyone realizes Pres. Monson is the longest serving member of the BSA’s National Executive Board in Boy Scouts History. I can’t see the church’s association with the scouts changing any time soon considering that light. I presume he wouldn’t just decide to turn away from the BSA, and I presume his predecessor wouldn’t either.
What I’m curious about is what kind of discussions go on at the higher ups about the relationship to BSA and the increasingly international church.
Apologies, but all this fussing about donating just seems petty to me. If you can afford to donate, help out as I’m certain the church wouldn’t be permitting and requesting these kinds of fund raisers if it wasn’t seen as important. For me it became a question of, do I feel my money is more important than the goals of the church leadership.
I really think the real issue with scouting is if the BSA is supposed to be the “activity arm” of the Aaronic Priesthood, what does that mean for the rest of the world?
My thought is the church will either (eventually? when?) drop BSA and implement a similar program world wide (minus the rigid bureaucratic structure of many of the requirements, etc.), or will seek to license some aspect of BSA for local units all over the world.
Of a lessor, but still important concern I have regarding BSA is they talk a good talk and the focus in meetings is always about ministering to individuals, saving every boy, help boys become convert to the gospel of Christ, and not being so worried about getting all the merit badges and awaards, etc.
And yet the overwhelming structure and focus of scouting pushes you to focusing on accomplishing tasks on a check list that are incidental, at best, to becoming converted, saving souls, etc.
Teaching kids to fish is great, and can be truly life saving even. Teaching kids to fish and trying to follow the check list of accomplishments that need to be done to earn a fishing merit badge seems to detract from the real point. Case in point, some YM just spent 3 weeks with a non-member who has never shown any interest in the church at all working with him and learning from him as he taught these boys how to fly fish and make their own flys. And yet inspite of this potentially life changing time for all involved, none of the boys will get the fishing merit badge unless we spend another couple weeks “teaching the manual” rather than rewarding them for accomplishing something much greater. I get the merit badge isn’t really the important part when it’s all said and done. But if that’s the case it doesn’t make sense why we need such a detailed check list.
We can too easily end up “teaching the merit badge” rather than “teaching the youth”.
These are my concerns about scouting. I think it’s a great program, but honestly I think scouting has become mired in a bureaucratic 1960s-80s way of thinking.
oop… predecessor = successor
I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the Church to drop scouting in the US. The longest serving board member on the BSA National Executive Board is LDS and has been on the board since 1969. Perhaps you’ve heard of him…Thomas S. Monson.
Sorry. Didn’t see post #58.
Cynthia, I’ve loved your comments!
I didn’t participate in scouting as a kid. I just didn’t like the activities, so I didn’t go. At the time, I was frustrated that a desire to camp, tie knots, etc. appeared to be seen as kind of a worthiness test. It seemed so arbitrary. Why is outdoorsy stuff related to the gospel in the way someone else’s favorite type of activity isn’t? Of course, this is just the other side of the coin of one of Cynthia’s comments. She did want to do stuff the scouts did and was barred from doing so. I did not want to do it, but I was prodded/encouraged to anyway.
As several others have already said, the money difference is also awful. I think it sends a clear message to the girls/YW when all this extra money is spent on the boys/YM: We care about you; we just don’t care as much as we do about the potential/current priesthood holders.
My wife has recently been called as Cub Scout committee chair for our pack, which includes three wards. I have been appalled to see how much money gets poured down the drain of scouting awards alone, not even counting how much is spent to register the scouts, parents, and leaders, etc. As Alison put it so well, each bell and whistle has its own markup. And like Amber said, the boys get a big old pile of bells and whistles at each meeting, and it seems pretty clear that they don’t even much care about them all (or at least most of them don’t).
For the BSA, investing in the Church has been extremely worthwhile. They were there when President Monson and other GAs were growing up, and they had good experiences. And now, as a payback for those good experiences, the whole of the Church in the US gets to subsidize the organization, and the scouts get unique access to collecting funds in the Church, for decades afterward. I can’t wait for this association to end!
Amen Allison and other commenters who’ve expressed my feelings so well–I too have a “Church/BSA divorce” on my list of things I’d like to come to pass in my lifetime (seriously, last page in my journal). I was hoping Pres Monson would be the one to change things–“I love Scouts more than anyone, but as an international church, the time has come…” but see that he’s not going to rock the boat.
We had a funny moment in our ward last month right after the FOS drive (or forced reluctant supporters of scouting, as one bishopric member deemed it in ward council), when they announced at pack meeting that they’d given so many awards to the boys this year that they were out of money, so if our boys earned any awards for the next three months the moms could go purchase them themselves. And you have these parents (who’ve never wondered where the FOS money goes) saying, what happened to the money I just donated? Wake up call.
Thanks for being brave enough to post on this, even though it’s been rehashed before. The issues are still there. And did you see that crazy new ad campaign from the BSA? Creepy:
I’m in the bishopric in our ward and we divide the “youth money” up per body. In other words, if we spend $2500 on the youth, we divide that money by the number of bodies and that’s how we assign a specific amount to YM and YW. I can’t remember the figure, but it’s something like $60 per person We had one father complain once that his daughters didn’t get to go on a “fathers and daughters outing.” I told him he needed to speak with the YW leaders about that.
BTW, we do not do the same thing with the adults. The RS budget is a bit higher than EQ/HP combined, though not much.
I went through Church Scouting and got all the awards, etc. At 17, I went into the Marines. At the end of 4 months of basic training, I should have earned 500 badges__no one got any. But at Graduation, a General came into our Dressed Formation, with a black ‘jewel case’, and put ‘Globe & Anchor’ pins on our collars. That was enough.
I grew up where there was a Young Mens program but no church scout troop, so I attended a community troop. It was awesome. It was like something out of a Normal Rockwell painting. Ok I exaggerate but it had 30+ boys, several patrols, Eagle Scouts that mentored the younger boys, volunteer leaders, youth leadership training…everything. It was done correctly and I loved it. Fast forward a few years when I’m a leader across the country and only the deacons would do any scouting. The Varsity Team never did, and the Explorers I think did some things on their own, but they never, ever had anything to do with the younger scouts.
I want my kids to experience what I did in scouts. I think it may be possible to do in a ward troop, but I have yet to see it, in Utah and elsewhere. I think the biggest problem is that it is required: leaders are called (not volunteers) and boys are expected to participate whether they want to or not. Worse yet, I don’t really have a good option for my sons even if the ward troop is bad. If the ward troop is no good, what can I do? I can’t really volunteer. I can’t have my boys join the troop of another ward. I could join a community troop but none of them would be LDS (in Utah). I can’t start a church-sponsored troop because the church would never sponsor a non-ward troop in Utah (I’ve got this on good authority from top leaders).
So the church requires that my sons be involved in a dysfunctional troop. I would rather the church get out of scouting at the ward level and instead either do it at the stake level or just get out of it entirely and let those that want to do scouts do it, and those that don’t not do it. And then just do Young Mens like I had.
I would encourage people to really look at how scouts was originally set up and why. Learn about the Patrol Method. Read about how troops are supposed to operate as boy-led with adult shadow leadership. Learn about how the older boys are supposed to teach, guide, and mentor the younger ones. I have never seen a church troop do any of these properly…anywhere! In church troops the boys are divided by age so the mentoring doesn’t happen. The leadership (usually just Senior Patrol Leader because there aren’t enough boys for separate Patrols) is whoever the Deacon’s Quorum President is, which is no guarantee that the boy wants to be SPL, and then there are no other leadership opportunities for the boys. I was Patrol Leader, Assistant Patrol Leader, Quartermaster…and a bunch of other positions. There are reasons the BSA has these but you need a critical mass of number of boys for it to work.
The church doesn’t do Boy Scouts. It does something that looks like Boy Scouts but misses the mark on so many of the important aspects of Boy Scouts. But the church fills that space, and in Utah at least, makes it nearly impossible to start a troop that could form properly.
So I LOVE Boy Scouts, and because of that I wish the church would get out of it so that it could be done as it was intended.
Again, this is just in my experience, but I think it is worth sharing:
When I growing up, my scout troop had patrol leaders, senior patrol leaders, assistant patrol leaders, quartermasters, and chaplains (or at least one of each). These roles were constantly rotated to give every scout an opportunity to have a leadership role. Our troop had three patrols, which were divided by age, but we often did scout events together, which allowed the older boys to mentor the younger ones.
We had some young men who didn’t like scouting, yes, but we had far more who came for scouts and nothing else. There were a number of young men who never came to church on Sunday but they were ALWAYS there for scouts and they came to the joint-activities and the non-scouting activities we had on Wednesdays, as well.
The church has been placing an emphasis on the Fulfilling My Duty to God program, with the idea that the BSA program supports this. Outside the USA, there is just the Duty to God program, as far as I am aware.
I am curious to know, for all those who dislike the support of the BSA: Is this because of the lack of a comparable program for the YW? Would you be more supportive of the church’s involvement with the BSA if the church were also involved with the GSA and/or embraced the international scouting movement, where boys and girls are often combined? Or do you dislike scouting in general and wish the church just stopped completely?
I don’t see any reason for you to not join another non-church-sponsored troop. Who cares if none of the other boys are LDS? It would give your kids a taste of what living outside of Utah is like, they could make friends with people who have different religious beliefs, and most likely they’d have a more authentic scouting experience. What’s the downside?
As far as scout awards go, I think they’re as silly as the overcrowded outhouse-overflowing boy scout camps I went to as a scout. The focus should be on learning skills, having adventures, and learning to love nature, not on getting awards or seeing how many 12-year-olds can fit on a frozen lake or on a few acres of forest.
I think the suggestions to have your daughters just join a girl scout troop further highlight the disparity. The church supports (financially and with leadership) a program for my sons, but I should go out and find a program (and fund it and volunteer my leadership) for my daughter? What does that say about the value of men and women in the church?
I think ceejay’s comment #35 is pretty perceptive. Young men and young women are definitely not raised the same in the church. Our anticipated roles as adults are very, very different. Check out the Faith in God materials on lds.org, particularly the suggested activities on preparing them for their future roles. We are not raising girls to be leaders or risk-takers. We attack the symptoms (disparity in programs for young men and young women), but doesn’t it really go deeper than that? How do we frame those conversations?
Also, the venturing program of the BSA does allow girls. The YM form a venturing crew. Why can’t the YW form a venturing crew? I think the answer is that we are not raising our daughters to fill the same roles as our sons.
I have been a cub scout leader for nearly three and a half years. I am miserable. The absolute worst thing was when the stake assumed I would do the Friends of Scouting presentation for several wards. Um, NO.
I am not sure how good ANY Scouting is today. I was a Church Scout in the 60s. My ‘to be’ FIL, was on the BSA District Council. My wife’s older brother was the ONLY Eagle Scout I ever met. Today’s standards for Eagle are very watered down.
Kaimi #48, thank you. I’ll be sure to pass on the contributions to the General Times & Seasons fund. After I deduct my expenses and salary, of course. :)
Marie #56, that’s typical of the budgets I’ve seen. Boys getting 3-8 times what girls do, per capita.
And he was called to be an apostle in 1963. The BSA has a huge interest having prominent LDS leaders be heavily invested in their organization.
It’s always amusing to me that someone can use their precious time to fuss about petty fussing.
The trump card. “The church” must think it’s important/good/worthy or it would’t be that way, because we believe in inspired leaders. So shut up (and stop the petty fussing!) and go along with the program.
Good one, chris!
For me it because a question of: given that my resources (just like everyone else’s) are limited, is giving to the BSA the BEST use of my money.
If that’s your real issue, then blog about it. My real issues are:
(1) Do boys need massive awards
(2) Do boys need rewards for “working toward awards” between getting actual awards
(3) Are awards/programs/parity for girls on ANYONE’s radar
anita #63, thanks for your kind comments. Agreed, that ad campaign is über-creepy.
It’s Not Me #64, kudos to your ward! Do you mind if I ask what area you live in?
pool #67, thanks for the info. Sounds like you had a great troop — and another reason to separate church and scouts.
Alex T. Valencic #68:
Alex, personally (as I think you can tell from the OP as well as the first link to abolishing scouts), I actually think BSA is pretty awesome. Maybe not always in implementation, but I was incredibly jealous as a kid.
My aversion to the program is almost exclusively to the disparity between resources provided to the girls and boys. I think either we should ramp up the girls/YW program to provide similar opportunities/rewards, or we should let BSA go as part of the official program.
Tim – you have to be careful with kids’ strong involvement in organizations that are the “other” from existing church organizations, especially in Utah. They can have unfavorable attitudes towards the church or they will expect that you do and then expect a sort of kindred spirit in criticizing the church, and the ward members can be suspicious or question your faithfulness (otherwise why don’t you fully participate?).
If the church provides an organization and you decide to not participate in that one but do in another outside the church, the child can have a real hard time reconciling what is going on. It’s not about exposure to people outside the church (we’ve got a lot of that). This is why it would be easier for the Church to get out of scouting and then form either LDS or non-denominational troops. Declaring that you are going to the Catholic troop instead of the ward troop is quite a statement and puts the child in an awkward position. I know people who have done it, and it brings some challenges that are due to the expectation that your child should be in the church troop. There’s just no easy way to handle this. It would be easier outside of Utah where there was no church troop, which was my experience.
Given that US men currently account for only 43% of college degrees but 92% of prisoners, and that women in LDS singles wards outnumber the men by a ratio of nearly 2:1, regardless of whether these gaps are due to natural or to cultural differences, all of the available evidence suggests that raising responsible men requires more resources than raising responsible women. And to me, the primary purpose of the church youth programs is to produce responsible adults capable of marrying, raising a family, and contributing to society.
As a father of four girls, current trends lead me to believe that our options are to either dedicate disproportionate resources in both time and money to boys, or to get comfortable with the fact that ever-increasing numbers of our women will never marry or raise a family, or will be forced to adopt the new US normal of raising kids alone and hoping their baby-daddy will text them back between his rounds playing XBOX in his parents’ basement.
…and an additional point: Scouting is the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood which is why the boys are broken into Scouts, Varsity, and Explorers which match the Deacons, Teachers, and Priests Quorums. It’s also why the Senior Patrol Leader is the Deacons President, etc. There is no voting like in the real Scout program. This is all meant to reinforce the quorum. If your child doesn’t attend the church troop, what do that say about your child’s sustaining of the quorum president?
Now I don’t know why Scout boy leaders need to be the same as quorum boy leaders. My bishop is not my mayor, and my EQ Pres is not the Sheriff. But with the boys, we feel like they need to be the same, for quorum unity.
I think it’s too organized so that you are stuck if you want to do anything different, and I’m not talking about religion. I am talking about child and youth activities. The ward child and youth organizations take a lot of time that families have for activities and you are hard pressed to getting out of them, and harder pressed to do it better. If all the boys are in church troops, you’re going to have a very hard time forming a troop on your own. So we are all stuck because the ward provides the activities. We can easily imagine this taken to the extreme where there’s an organization an activity for boy and girls at every age, where leaders are called, where meetings and events are scheduled, where the members and kids are expected to attend and participate, where there’e little time to do much else…yet few people like doing it all but they do because it is wrapped up in their faith and they want to do what’s right, and have a sense of community, be a good person…I think we are already at that extreme.
And the point often gets raised about the non-member and less active kids, how these organizations and activities help them have contact with the church. Seems like a heavy price to pay, and my experience has been that it is rare that non-member and even less-active kids are involved. It’s almost always just the very active members. I have to say I’ve really not seen any reaching out in my wards, although I have heard others do.
If other wards round the world don’t have scout troops to reinforce the quorum, and they do fine, why do we insist on doing it in Utah?
Matt Evans #76:
So the huge resource disparity for the past…forever…in the church (and culture) hasn’t worked?
It’s like the public school argument. We throw billions into public schools, test scores go down, we need more money, we throw in more money, test scores go down, so obviously we need even more money.
And it’s kind of like the entitlement program arguments and the TARP arguments and the…
Maybe women are getting more college degrees and staying out of jail and staying active because they aren’t told they have to have all sorts of special gifts, favors, programs, badges, authority, power — and hundreds of hours of playing basketball on the tithing dime — just to hang around.
But, of course, we’ve never really tested the theory that being fair might be beneficial to both genders.
In my Council, 1% (30 out of 3000) of the Scouts are in a non-LDS troop. There are only two troops that are not LDS, if my memory is correct.
Alison – thanks for the clarification of your perspective. From how I’ve read many of the comments, it seems that there are several who just don’t like the scouting program in general.
I agree that we should be allocating equal funds to both the young men and the young women. On further reflection, I believe the main reason behind not adopting the GSA was the lack of autonomy allowed. The BSA gladly lets church-sponsored scout troops (LDS and other) a large degree of control over how the operate and run the organisations. The Girl Scouts, on the other hand, do not allow that autononmy, and so the church turned them down/away. (Remember, the GSA was founded just a few years after the BSA.) But I think the church could easily turn the YW program into something that is similar to the YM program. Personal Progress has been changed to be more open in the options the girls can pursue, but there is none of the recognition that the boys get. That seems like an easy thing to change without changing the YM program.
Hi Sarah Familia,
My son attended the stake YM camp this year in France.
Fresh bread from the nearby village–check
Detailed menu planning with good cheese–check
Not letting boys cook for culinary reasons–check
Lots of soccer–check
Camping on manicured grass–check
Other highlights–daily fireside featuring reading from For the Strengh of Youth, an orienteering expert who got lost in the woods, and a visit to a roman archaeological site that featured chariot races.
It was organized at the last minute by 2 fathers and an old-time scouter after the stake-level effort collapsed. Great guys.
I live in Northern Utah. And I’m not aware of any other ward in our stake that provides equal money per capita for the youth. We just decided a few years ago that it would be most fair to do it that way.
I grew up in Texas. I didn’t really like scouting, but I did it anyway. It wasn’t particularly spiritually uplifting. Was it fun? Not the scouting part, but I guess it provided a context (sort of) to have fun and occasionally do some character-building.
I’ve served in the YM program for about 15 years at ward and stake level. I still have the same opinion. At least in this area, the YW programs have been more spiritual, more organized, more meaningful, more fun and equally expensive. The handbook discourages fundraising, and when done, it should be for an annual activity, whether for YM or YW. We tried to stick with that.
In wards and stakes with fewer traditions and longer distances to travel, etc. you’re not going to get the hyper-organization that you may encounter in Utah and other places in the west. In fact you get the opposite. It is awkward for a few YM leaders to try to make scouting work with Duty to God, Scouting, lower commitment levels, two-deep-leadership requirements, etc. So I agree scouting fails.
Wow, spend the weekend on a scout camp and you miss around 80 posts…
I really liked scouting in Utah and wouldn’t have wanted to miss out…BUT
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE THE CHURCH AND SCOUTING PART WAYS.
Not because of some financial discrepancies, sexism, or anything related to them. I don’t think having Boy Scouts as the activities for boys gives them the spiritual experiences they need to stay strong in the gospel. I’d rather scrap the whole thing and start having Bible/BOM studies and some activity afterward, but with the study of the gospel being the main focus of meeting. We used to play sports, go camping, swimming, earn merit badges and on and on without ever mentioning the Savior unless we were saying a prayer. We were at the church building, but it had no connection to the things taught at church.
I don’t care if kids won’t show up because gospel study isn’t FUN… then don’t come, but then we’ll know that you aren’t the spiritual giant you pretend to be on Sundays. If you aren’t attracted to the gospel then you shouldn’t be coming to church. I’d highly recommend YM to get active in community BSA groups, but keeping it as a way to lure in kids who don’t care about Christ is a bit too much subterfuge for me. BSA teaches kids lots of things that they should learn, but we have plenty of more important things to teach that are being neglected because of the BSA. Time to cut it loose IMO.
“If you aren’t attracted to the gospel then you shouldn’t be coming to church.”
Is that really how you feel? If someone young man or young woman, for whatever reason, having a tough time feeling ‘attracted’ to the gospel then they should just turn tail head for the exit? Please tell me that I am misreading what you said.
I am a member in the UK. Here the Church is not affiliated to the scout association, and wards don’t have their own scout groups.
Our son is a Cub in the local group, which is loosely Anglican (Church of England) based.
Many years ago I was a scout leader and I left the scout association when they accepted girls into scouting.
My objection is not that girls can’t do it, or shouldn’t, but rather that here they have their own organisation – Girl Guides (the female equivalent of scouts, originally organised by the scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell’s sister).
Boys are not allowed in Girl Guides, but girls are allowed in Scouts (originally called BOY scouts, but the female equivalent is still GIRL guides). Totally unfair here, as having been a scout myself when I was a boy I enjoyed being away from the girls (everything else being mixed sex) and doing boy things, leadership courses, assault courses, camps of 2 weeks long living totally off the land etc etc… The girls went off to their own camps and did their own things, and us boys did our things. But now the boys have nowhere to get away from the girls, and the scout camps are ‘dumbed down’ to accommodate the girls. By that I don’t mean that girls are not as good, but rather that we didn’t need two sets of toilets etc, shower tents, and there was no trying to do better than the girls, or showing to the girls how good you are at something.
My daughter will soon be of an age to join Cubs or the UK Guides equivalent, Brownies. I am firmly going to push her towards Brownies, as she needs somewhere to be away from the boys.
So I think they need to be separate, girls doing their thing, and boys doing the usual boy things…
Just my input…
Yes, we’ve never found a great way to domesticate men or control male aggression, despite it being a primary purpose of civilization for milennia, so yes, it’s apparent that we’ve never committed enough resources to solving this problem (we’ve had relatively few resources for social problems of any kind), but I contend that men have declined in the past 40 years. The sexual revolution bears most of the blame (withholding sex proved to be a great way to domesticate men) but I think it’s clear that more resources need to be dedicated to domestication, too, for both men and women. The question for the church is that, given limited funds for raising youth, how to optimize the result.
I take it that there’s a natural basis to this dynamic, and that cultural forces are secondary, because of the prevalence of this distinction across the large mammalian species. Male lions and tigers and bears and elephants and moose aren’t involved with their young, either.
If we compare the success of men and women by gospel metrics, women are succeeding better than men are (education, responsibility, commitment), and because Mormon men are succeeding beyond the US average, it shows that our culture does a better job than the rest, and I attribute that success to be due to the increased attention and resources we give to young men, especially their missionary service but also the investment we make in having the best men in the ward spend a lot of time with teen boys.
Finally, because the disparity of money and attention men receive because of their disproportionate missionary service exceeds by an order of magnitude the disparity YM receive over YW, if your concern is unequal treatment it would seem to me that the missionary program should be target number one.
Matt, I’ll need to see the evidence that getting a little metal belt loop for playing video games results in greater domestication of men than, say, using that same $1.25 to buy refreshments for a meeting where the boys learned about changing diapers or changing oil or changing their attitudes toward domesticity in general.
I am not opposed to the idea that certain groups in the church may need greater resources than other groups (this certainly seems to be the current thinking about YSA), but I suspect that the BSA disparity has more to do with historical accidents (=every other program has been correlated into cheapness except this one, because of the exterior-to-the-church requirements of BSA) than a deliberate decision to invest more in males. If that were the case, we’d spend more on non-US boys than girls, which we don’t.
(And I’m so glad I got to meet you this week!)
It’s not clear to me either (a) that this has ever been the case (men historically seem to get sex with or without marriage), or (b) that this is even true.
It sounds like someone should start making knock-off scout badges.
Your post reminds me that feminists don’t want equality, they want it all. Because feminism exists to create advantages for women, a better word for their activism would be gynocentism.
I don’t think I’ve read any comments about the homosexual issue. I’m surprised; I really expected to see some.
I just got the letter today at church saying that people will be stopping by my house next Sunday to collect. So, that means I have to say no at the door? Ugh. Before, I just haven’t contributed. Now, I’m actually going to have to say ‘no, thanks.” The pressure to conform/comply!!
I’d be curious to hear what, if any, comments were made to you about it. It sounds like to this point nothing’s been said?
Well, that is what I said, but didn’t mean it the way it came across. We have many, many young men who are spiritually starving, and we spend our precious time with them working toward belt loops and cloth badges rather than strengthening and nourishing them. The knowledge gained by earning those badges is fantastic, but at the cost of losing our YM, it seems rather ridiculous. Scouting may be a way to lure non-member youth into our influence, but the time spent on it also shows our own youth that talking about spiritual matters is far below on our priority list. At least in my scout troops spiritual talk was also nonexistant and it obviously made our leaders uncomfortable. When we had activities with the YM as a “church-activity” this wasn’t the case and we often had spiritual thoughts and testimony building activities, but NEVER as a scout unit. I think our church activity time that we currently dedicate to scouts should be spent strengthening our YM – and if the YM aren’t interested in that, then they can skip out. If they don’t come I’ll feel bad that they don’t want to be there, but much better than knowing they later fell away because I never nourished their souls.
However, I’m not completely opposed to the idea of what I said. Not that I would send away someone who is having a “tough time”, but there are many who have absolutely no interest in the church that use the church resources just to go do cool activities. I’d never turn anyone toward the exits who has an interest in the gospel, but I’d gladly turn away those who are opposed to it and too dishonest to say so and are using it as a way to get to do cool stuff on someone else’s dime. Perhaps a few more nights of group scripture study will make either touch their heart and bring them into the fold for real, or make them uncomfortable enough to drive them away. And I think I’m okay with that.
I asked my wife about what she thought about discrepancies in YM/YM growing up; about whether she resented scouts doing more or better things, or about budget discrepancies. She said she never thought about the money, and that her ward always told them to go ahead and do the camping/bicycling/rappelling and the church would cover it (in PG, Utah BTW). But what she did resent is that none of her leaders ever wanted to do that stuff because they were always pregnant and/or couldn’t leave young children at home. Not sure there is a way around leaders being pregnant is there?
I am against the discriminatory nature of the Boy Scouts. I think they are a terrible organization, in the end, not of Christ.
Agh! The stupidity! It burns!!!
This is A TERRIBLE organization, and the prophet of the Lord ought not to have any dealings with it.
As hard as it is to follow a post like #91, there’s really one thing I want to say about the Scouting program. I’m an Eagle Scout and a well-adjusted happy father and husband now, and many who know me now wouldn’t be able to guess this, but when I was a teenage boy, I was a really sensitive introvert. I didn’t want to go to Scout camps or play out in the woods with the older kids because the hierarchical nature of Scouting and the “be tough” message easily lends itself to groups of older/stronger bullies who pick on (haze, prank, etc.) introverted sensitive kids like I was. For every girl who wants to whitewater raft and climb rocks, there is a boy out there who is just scared to climb rocks (or just doesn’t want to swim, or whatever) and doesn’t want to look like a complete wuss either. I just wanted to go home and read, play guitar, or hang out with a couple of my like-minded friends, but since Scouting is so tied up with the Young Men’s program, I felt like my personal priesthood or worthiness had something to do with my ability to climb rocks. Gender expectations cut both ways.
It isn’t because of a lack of comparable program, its that that the program detracts from the purpose of a CHURCH. I love and support the BSA and am currently involved with it through the community. Read my other posts (84, 94) and you’ll see it isn’t because of percieved discrimination. Unlike Dan, I think they are a great organization that should NOT be a part of the church. Let’s use our time focusing on CHURCH and encourage the YM to do scouting on their own time.
Agreed, it’s not an opposition to the concept of scouting, but the marriage of that with my religion. Happy to have people be scouts if they want to do that! Not so happy to be required to support and participate in this program as part of LDS faithfulness measurement. It really comes down to judgment calls based on Moroni 7 for me, and does this program bring boys to Christ? So why is it part of the church?
Matttt, I’m not sure this formula proves the point you want it to prove:
$men > $women
civilitymen < civility women therefore $men >>>>>> $women
civilitymen > civilitywomen
Isn’t it possible that Mormon men succeed beyond the US average because the church still teaches some things like responsibility, self-reliance, duty, honor, etc. — to EVERYONE — and it actually gets through sometimes? Could there possibly be a POSITIVE outcome for men if they were taught that God thought they were capable of doing the right thing without having MORE than women?
This argument which — like Julie, I need more evidence to accept — implies that resources are supposed to be the equalizer. Women are amazing. Men are sloths. We need to pour money to the boys programs to make the men amazing. And we should not pour money into girls’ programs, because then they’d be super-duper-extra-fabulously-amazing. Then we’d be unequal again, so we’d need MORE boy money to bring the boys up to par. Again.
Frankly, it smacks of the youth programs where I’ve seen leaders bend over backward to entice and coddle the wayward kids — only to lose the good kids.
A few years ago I wrote about women not being allowed to say opening prayers. A guy made a comment that if people like me continued to point out the non-policy implementation of banning women, “Saying the opening prayer in sacrament will no longer be something special for men to do.”
Notice that it’s wasn’t saying the prayer that was special. It was SAYING THE PRAYER THAT WOMEN COULD NOT SAY that was special.
I don’t think that attitude is helpful to either men or women.
As for missions, here’s the key: “because of their disproportionate missionary service.”
I don’t care if boys GET more because boys SERVE more. I don’t expect girls who do NOT go to church to get the same funding for church programs as boys who DO go to church.
Well said! Much better than my rambling in post #94…
Matt’s comments get me thinking about rewards in general. I am sure that many bloggers here are familiar with Alfie Kohn, an educator (I think) who speaks widely on the issue of rewards and motivation. He also addresses parenting and corporate structure/reward systems.
Basically, he believes that giving rewards for a behavior results in a de-valuing of that behavior. What is the reward for learning how to fish? Its knowing how to fish. What is the reward for learning to whittle? Its knowing how to whittle. When we give rewards for something then we are, in essence, saying this: “The thing that you are doing is not very rewarding, so we will create a reward that makes you want to do it. Otherwise, you would never do it.”
I am reminded, for example, of a Sunday School teacher in my ward in Massachusetts some years ago who offered to pay $100 to any youth who read the Book of Mormon during that year. He created a buzz among the youth in the ward, and he made good on that promise. But obviously I wonder about what the long-term impact of that was.
Dr. Kohn was once asked, by Pizza Hut I believe, to evaluate a summer reading program that they wanted to promote. They proposed that they reward kids with free pizza if they read a certain number of books. After looking at the program Dr. Kohn famously said that the net result would be a bunch of fat kids who hate to read.
So, I am wondering if maybe the scouting program is part of the problem, and not a part of the solution. Maybe it encourages boys to pursue interests only if someone pays them in some way to do it.
I say this as an eagle scout, as the proud father of an eagle scout, as a former (several times) YM leader, but as someone who, like so many here, believe that the church-scout relationship is not a good one for a very large number of our church members.
It appears you dont get “militant feminism”.
Are you calling Alison Moore Smith a militant feminist?
I would have to see her boots to know for sure.
Re: Alison’s reply in 73 to me:
I stand by what I said and I think it’s correct. If you can afford to donate, you should. There are very very few things we actually get asked to donate, especially few things that we get asked to donate that come from the highest levels of the church.
Now, obviously no one should donate because someone tells them to, but because they consider these things and decide for themselves.
But abstaining from donating because you tell yourself you can do better things with the money and then spending several hundred bucks a year on movies or going out to eat, etc. would seem to demonstrate what you value your money for — for treating yourself. Rather than imparting it freely when asked.
Your comment to me seems to be saying, “If you don’t agree with me, don’t comment and make your own blog.” If that’s the case, you should either close comments or add a postscript to your posts telling people who disagree they should not comment.
I agree that Scouting has some issues that need to be corrected. Withholding funds that the church asks us to commit may feel good, but it really does seem to be a question of your value of money rather than your value of the organization. I will readily admit I’m wrong on this if as it turns out, you refuse to go to restaurants because the obscene salaries your dollars support, refuse to go to movies, because the obscene salaries your dollars support, refuse to watch tv, because the obscene salaries your dollars support, etc.
Withholding $25-100 (or more) a year, IF, you can otherwise afford it on the principle of not liking how your dollars are being spent in an organization aimed at helping YM, while participating in all the other frills of modern civilization seems a bit odd.
I think your criticism of desiring a better organized program for the YW is very valid, although I really hope it wouldn’t be as complex as the BSA as that is one of the downsides to the program itself. Your criticism would be more effective if you were someone who donated and believed in the goals and aims of the program that you wanted to support but disagreed with some of the methods, etc. involved.
If you sincerely think about how you spend your money, do you really believe you only support those things with your dollars that are ideologically pure?
Here’s my oversimplified summary of what’s I’m getting
A: 1/3 don’t like LDS scouting because it displaces better stuff that the church could be doing with boys/YM.
B: 1/3 don’t like LDS scouting because it systematically pulls resources from girls/YW and gives them to boys/YM.
C: 1/3 like LDS scouting
A & B aren’t on the same page, but they agree with the result: ditch scouting. I’m in the A camp (no pun intended).
Matt Evans, on the one hand, I get what you are saying. Society is failing our young men, and we need to counteract that. That likely requires additional resources. On the other hand, I can’t help but think that this:
reminds me of an article I read about India. Because resources are limited, poor families feed themselves in this way: fathers first, then brothers, then mom and daughters. As a result, 20% of daughters die of malnutrition (on top of those who are aborted because they are female). The same argument could be made here: well, given limited resources, what is a family to do? You have to optimize the results. Feed the children who are worth more to the family (the boys). But is that the right thing? It is probably an extreme comparison, but your comment made me think of the India situation, and I wonder if there is any hint of that that is relevant.
Chris said “There are very very few things we actually get asked to donate, especially few things that we get asked to donate that come from the highest levels of the church.”
10 percent of income
Book of Mormon fund
Perpetual Education Fund
cost of travel to church, visiting teaching, home teaching, temple
Stephen Hardy #103, Kohn’s Punished by Rewards was rather big in homeschooling circles a decade or so ago. There is much in it that I disagree with — based purely on my persona experience that often seems to fly in the face of what he says. But there are many jewels in his ideas, and you articulate those well.
I certainly think the example in the OP is of this sort. Reward for working toward rewards? Where ever the line is between helpful and harmful rewards, that has to have crossed it.
And I do think we should at least recognize that when something doesn’t work well, doing MORE of the same isn’t necessarily the best idea.
Thanks for the thoughtful comment.
Jon Miranda, Dan, Bob: other than Adam Greenwood — who thinks women who vote are militant feminists (and also tedious and stultifying) — no one has ever called me a feminist anything, let alone a militant one. I’ve never spent much time worrying about the label and don’t apply it to myself, as I think I’m more about trying to figure out what is right and fair to EVERYONE than in promoting a particular gender.
Oh, and my “boots” are those brown, plastic flip flops you can get for about $5 at every ABC in Hawaii. Year round, baby.
110 – you just identified 6 things you can donate to, out of the thousands of ways you spend your money. It doesn’t seem like that much to me. I suppose your mileage varies. And out of those things you mentioned, I’ve never, ever been bugged with a phone call or house visit to: pay my tithing, contribute to BoM fund, etc. The only thing I’ve ever been solicited for, other than a single sentence in a conference talk for other funds, is fast offerings.
If someone wants to calculate the cost to them of traveling to church, or home teaching, etc. they certainly can do that. But at the point I suppose a person should be revisiting their personal feelings about the meaning of life, the role and importance of church, etc.
Alison, I’m right there with you. I have a lot of strong, mixed feelings about the way the Church does Scouting, but here’s just one quick, relevant anecdote:
When I was called to be Cubmaster, I was handed a budget that was already at -$100 (yes, that’s negative). I still had four months left in the year.
We quickly instituted the policy that the ward (Cub Scout) budget would no longer pay for non-required belt loops (I think there are 3 total that are required). While belt loops are fun for the boys, they are by far the easiest to earn and the most expensive to pay for. You can very easily burn through your budget just on belt loops.
I also recommended to the den leaders that they focus on the ranks and arrow points (more substantial to earn, and not nearly as expensive to fund for all the boys).
I highly recommend this common-sense solution to every LDS pack. It could save you hundreds of dollars every year.
In general, the BSA has way too much “badge inflation” going on. And the Church has no need to subsidize this bad habit.
We’ll probably have to disagree, depending on how you are defining “afford.” If you mean ” be able to do something without risk of adverse consequences,” then I’m totally on board. And you’d have to acknowledge that you’re not the best judge of what others will deem to be “adverse consequences.”
If you mean, as it sounds to me, “have enough money to pay for,” then I think the “if you can afford” is nonsensical as the only criteria. It’s opportunity cost. As I said, given that my resources (just like everyone else’s) are limited, is giving to the BSA the BEST use of my money? To me, the answer is no. And, yes, I’m the only one qualified to make that decision.
A few years ago I was asked to be the primary pianist, under the apparent assumption that all singers play the piano. I didn’t actually turn down the request outright, I just pointed out the fact that I don’t play the piano. The request was withdrawn.
However, had they insisted that I was the inspired choice, I probably would have turned them down. Yea, I know, faithless as I am, I probably would have lost the opportunity for a miracle, but given the time/cost involved in becoming a pianist — at that time in my life — it wouldn’t have been a good thing. (And, yes, I think I have the stewardship to know that better than the 2nd counselor in the bishopric.)
So even though I could have qualified under the “if you can afford to” criteria (by the second definition), the overall cost (by the first definition) wasn’t acceptable to me.
chris, why haven’t you sold your computers and given up your internet connection and donated those funds to Friends of Scouting? Withholding that money, when you can obviously afford it, while participating in the other frills of modern civilization seems a bit odd.
Given your statements, I’d guess you have given to FOS, but you could always give more “freely” than you did, given the “frills” you indulge in. Right?
Suggesting that it’s wrong to refuse to donate limited resources to a PARTICULAR cause — when someone lives above the line of abject poverty — cuts both ways. It’s fallacious. And it’s the tactic used against my dad with the literally 6–8 donation requests he gets every single day.
You’ll note in the OP that I asked if I could donate to the ward scout effort without donating generally. Apparently, I can’t. Although my husband is also the assistant 11-year-old scout master. So he contributes time and resources directly to the boys in our ward regularly.
I don’t feel compelled to justify my spending/donating habits to you. But I will suggest to you that our typical donation to our favorite line items (humanitarian and perpetual education) went up last month by exactly the amount requested by FOS. That is a way we felt comfortable contributing the same amount to good church causes without furthering what we see as a problematic disparity.
Yes, we do try to donate generously (as determined by us) and carefully (analyzing with tools such as Charity Navigator) to causes we believe in and that use the resources in a way we are comfortable with.
Not at all. You said this:
What the church does as the “activity arm” for the rest of the world may be an issue with you — I have no problem with you discussing what concerns you in your own venue. But your position that YOUR concern is the “the real issue” is at least debatable. It’s not MY real issue and it’s certainly not the subject of this post. Rather than run with the threadjack, I reiterated what THIS post is about.
I wish you could respond, but seeing as how you’ll no longer be virtually connected, I’ll just send you my admiration. Send me a letter via snail mail — unless you’ve donated your frivolous postage budget to scouting as well — and I’ll be sure to let others know how you’re doing. :)
Good for you! My oldest son was a year into scouts before we figured out the belt loop thing. Seriously, minimal requirements. The month we found them, my oldest son earned about 12. The next month we hosted a Wii party so that everyone could get their “video game” belt loop. (Stephen, do you think that will DISCOURAGE them? I hope so!)
The real lesson here is that if you want free awards, earn them early in the year, before the massive budget is expended! ;)
“Oh, and my “boots” are those brown, plastic flip flops….
“During their five-year championship run, the Wildcats had a record of 106-3 and were undefeated at home.
When the team visited the White House after winning their first championship, they created a minor fashion scandal when some members wore flip-flops”. (Wikipedia)
Way to stick it to the Man _baby!
We instituted the same policy as Jonovitch in my ward (and still ran out of money this year because we have a lot of boys and very little budget. In fact, we only buy awards and Pinewood Derby cars with our budget, nothing else. So, activities either come out of parents’ or leaders’ pockets, which means that activities are extremely minimal. We rotate through parents to bring snacks for pack meeting. Our blue and gold dinner is a very plain potluck).
To me, scouts is an underfunded mandate. The church “forces” participation, but does not fund what the level of complete participation would require. What fun is it to have awards dangled before you but not be able to receive them because your parents don’t want to buy them? Or what about boys whose families just can’t afford to buy a bunch of beltloops?
But if you increase the budget for scouts to the level of covering all awards, then what about the girls? Is it “fair” to spend more on the boys? If you give activity days girls the same budget, they get to have all sorts of fun because they don’t have to buy the awards. They can use the money for activities. Is that “fair”? I find it all very frustrating.
In coming years, each time a girl holds one of those Scouts, she will be holding those awards.
Kind of like how I don’t need the priesthood because I can hold it at night?
“will be forced to adopt the new US normal of raising kids alone and hoping their baby-daddy will text them back between his rounds playing XBOX in his parents’ basement.”
Given your willingness to advance this claim in a public forum, do you really expect any of the readers here to take any of your other empirical claims remotely seriously?
Wow. 118 comments in less than 3 days. You struck a nerve, Allison.
I was given the calling of organizing the FOS program several years ago in our ward, and not one to turn down a calling, I really didn’t like what they wanted me to do.
So, rather than targeting the parents and other ward members, I made a general announcement in PH and RS meetings, then said nothing more about it again at church. I then started calling vendors my company did business with, and asked them to be generous with Boy Scouting. I far exceeded our “assessment” in just a couple of days calling. There were a handful of ward members who contributed, but my commercial vendors filled the till. Word got out at my company what I was doing, and the office of corporate giving (yes, thats what it was called) sent me a check for $500 for the troop. I made sure that went straight to the troop, not FOS. I think they bought the flags with that.
Also, wanted to mention, if the church pulled out of scouting, the BSA would be out of business. Plus, a very high percentage of professional scouters are LDS, all over the country, not just Utah. If BSA were divorced from the church in every way, it would be in big trouble. You think the United Way would want to keep it going?
Just a thought.
FatherOfGirls, that just seems so wrong to me – “Your calling is to raise money for the BSA to pay the salaries of Professional Scouters”. I just can’t wrap my head around that as a calling.
I find that most arguments defending the Church’s involvement in Scouting actually have the opposite effect.
D: I don’t mind LDS scouting but think it’s inefficient with time and money.
Scouting in the way the church sets it up lends itself to multiple problems. (1) The leaders are not true volunteers. They are “called” and serve out of faithfulness/guilt (depending on your point of view). That doesn’t lead to the most talented people serving the boys. Also people are shifted around in callings all the time. Scouts has a steep learning curve, so that by the time you understand and appreciate the calling, you are released.
(2) Scouts on a ward level isn’t the most efficient way to use leader’s time. Most wards only have 2 to 4 boys born each year. Boy Scouts works best with bigger groups of 4 to 8 boys in Cub Scout dens and much larger groups in Boy Scouts. Scouts requires 2-deep leadership, which is a terrific important rule, but really inefficient with small groups. If you organized scouts in a two or three ward area, or by stake, that would be more fun for the boys and respect the leaders’ time more. In our normal-sized ward, we have many people with multiple callings. Organizing scouts on a larger people would require fewer leaders and make better use of everyone’s time.
(3) The intense pressure to donate to Friends of Scouting can be completely ridiculous. Several years ago we lived in a very poor neighborhood (lots of trailers in ward boundaries). Our ward was pressured to come up with an insane amount (like $100 per family) in order to meet our goal. I’m sure some widow’s mites went toward that, which is just wrong. I’m confident that the church doesn’t waste money. I’m not confident that BSA is thrifty, and religious guilt should not be involved in motivating people to give. The church doesn’t recommend specific dollar amounts to give to tithing and fast offering, and they shouldn’t for FoS either.
We have an enthusiastic 11-year-old scout at our house who is setting out to earn all of the merit badges. He comes from a long line of scouters. He is sometimes frustrated at having to participate in scouts with boys who don’t really want to be there.
I don’t mind the inequality so much. The Young Women have a terrific program that has helped out my daughter a great deal. If Boy Scouts were thrifty, and if the Church tweaked the program a little (bigger packs and troops, keep people in callings longer and called interested people) I’d be happy with it.
Father of Girls,
Couldn’t ask for anything better.
and I say this as an Eagle Scout. Kill the Boy Scout Association.
Sara R, to your point 2, I proposed that it my stake, specifically to have each building be one pack. The reason it got shot down is that each pack needs a charter organization with a head. Each ward is one organization with one head, so our stake couldn’t figure out how to charter the pack. Argh. I am sure we could come up with something. But, for callings, it would be difficult – which Bishop has stewardship? It would have to go to the stake. I proposed that the stake just call the Cubmasters and Committee Chairs and have each ward have their own dens (unless they choose to combine). I think that could work.
Bob #116, I <3 the wildcats. :)
We had a hard freeze last night, but I'm still in my flip flops. If the past is any indicator of the future, I will be sporting them until the first (or second) time I have to walk through snow and experience significant foot pain and discoloration.
I have an inexplicable belief that if I just wear them long enough, winter will not come. So far, it hasn't panned out. But I'm ever hopeful. In fact, going with Matt's theory, maybe it hasn't worked so well because there isn't enough flip-flop wearing in snow. I invite you all to join my delusion. :)
Well said. This points back to the argument about the Primary presidency having “discretion.” If the church mandates scouting, then the Primary (or other) has to pay for what the program dictates. So the “discretion” looks like: Here’s how much we need for scouting, if there’s any left over, the girls can have some.
Bob #116, I <3 the wildcats. :)
We had a hard freeze last night, but I’m still in my flip flops. If the past is any indicator of the future, I will be sporting them until the first (or second) time I have to walk through snow and experience significant foot pain and discoloration.
I have an inexplicable belief that if I just wear them long enough, winter will not come. So far, it hasn’t panned out. But I’m ever hopeful. In fact, going with Matt’s theory, maybe it hasn’t worked so well because there isn’t enough flip-flop wearing in snow. I invite you all to join my delusion. :)
Well said. This points back to the argument about the Primary presidency having “discretion.” If the church mandates scouting, then the Primary (or other) as to pay for what the program dictates. So the “discretion” looks like: Here’s how much we need for scouting, if there’s any left over, the girls can have some.
I tried briefly to look up percentages when I wrote the post. I have heard that the church is the single largest sponsor of scouting, but couldn’t back it up quickly. If true, you are probably right. I don’t see that as a reason to hang onto the program, however.
SilverRain #123, spot on. LOL
He is sometimes frustrated at having to participate in scouts with boys who don’t really want to be there.
Then again, it will be good practice for when he serves a mission or assumes a leadership position in pretty much any organization.
True, Peter. And if we initiate cub scouts by giving them swirlies and stealing their lunch money, it will be good practice for junior high. ;)
One of the most often used objections I hear to homeschooling is that “kids need to deal with bullies as practice for real life.”
In my experience, there’s enough crap in life that we don’t need to impose crap. They will experience adversity and struggle without us ignoring problems we might be able to resolve.
Just noticed James timely sidebar link:
Widespread sexual harassment in grades 7 to 12 found study
[T&S comments has a hard time with HTML code for some links. Sorry.]
My first reaction was, “Duh.” My second was, “But, hey, it will give them practice for when they join the National Restaurant Association!”
I know it’s a threadjack, but my 5-year-old daughter is being sexually harassed in kindergarten, and ignored by the teachers when she tries to enlist their help dealing with it. It wasn’t until I went in and called it what it was that they made SOME effort to change things.
Five. Years. Old.
How I wish I could home school!
And in case you think I’m overreacting by calling it sexual harassment, the boys are trying to kiss her and telling her that they are going to touch her vagina if they catch her. Only they put it more crudely than that.
I told her teacher that I have instructed my daughter in how to kick a penis and stick her fingers in eyeballs if they touch her after she has told them not to.
SilverRain, that is horrible. I am hearing similar stories in my community.
SilverRain, that is horrible — for your child as well as the teacher’s reactions. Idiots.
I’m old. And when I was in 6th grade a close friend (also in 6th grade) was object raped by a group of boys ranging in age from 11 to 14. We didn’t even know what to call it or how to process it at the time.
Of course, there were hundreds of milder incidents. Boys snapping bras, shouting out things about girls physical development, asking way-too-personal questions about bodies, etc.
Sadly, this kind of garbage has been going on forever. As much as I don’t want to get hysterical about things children do, it’s about time we started calling this behavior what it really is. And stopped giving a pass to such horrific behavior.
I agree with your assessment. I think you very aptly summarized the efficiency issues in points 1 & 2, which are huge detriments to the program (the boys and their parents), without any apparent solution despite what many wards and stakes have worked on for years. A (non-scouting) alternate YM program can avoid most of the inefficiencies.
I live in Utah Valley and talked to the council about combing dens on a multiple ward level. They said there are several stakes that do this, especially in older neighborhoods without many scout-aged boys. I’m not sure on the details, but apparently they work it out.
We tried to implement that in our stake here in Texas, but we got opposition from primary leaders and YM leaders. Some of the stake and ward leaders were willing to entertain it, and the council seemed to be fine with it as well. But implementation became logistically difficult for the primary and YM programs coming from three or four different wards. But it is nice to know that multi-ward arrangements have apparently worked out at least in some stakes.
When I was Primary President in my last ward the entire primary budget was 700 for the year – cub scouts had their own budget at 980. It was insane.
Insane as in good or bad?
Our Cub Scout budget is $700 and our primary budget is $600.
Wow, I think our cub budget is $400. And it’s not even enough to cover all the “necessary” awards.
momoffive, I’m with you on the insanity plea. :) 100%
I have four boys. My oldest is in cub scouts, and #2 will enter cub scouts in a couple of months. I’m also currently den leader for the Bears.
I dislike scouts. I don’t like how overpriced the shirts and books and patches and everything are. I’m constantly torn between wanting to pull my boys out of scouts and feeling like I need to make sure they get their eagle. I hate how much the top people are paid. I don’t feel like it’s worth what we pay for it.
I haven’t donated to friends of scouting in several years, although somehow I’ve managed to not get asked until this year, when I just said, “not this year”.
I feel like we’re as friendly with scouting as I can handle. I spend my own money sometimes to get supplies for activities for my den (which is another gripe- we’re always being told that we have to be careful with how much we spend on actual activities for the boys, so that we have enough money to buy the stupid awards…)
All that said, I like my calling. I didn’t think I would. I felt like I was making a huge sacrifice accepting it, but I’ve liked it. I can still go to all my sunday meetings. It’s once a week. And, I get to do fun stuff with the boys.
I did the entire Scout thing and enjoyed it. Many in my family have their eagles including me. My grandfather was a Silver Beaver. However I am done with the Scouting program. The church could come up with something that would be much better. When I see how much money is put into scouting on a ward and stake level it makes me sick. Let alone what it costs to outfit a boy to be ready for his first scout meeting. I will keep doing what the brethern want me to do, but I hope they see the need for a change soon.
How about family history as the activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood? Please excuse the sardonic nature of this comment.
While I understand the complaints that many people have, what it seems to boil down to is that the boys get more money than the girls. I agree that this is wrong. However, saying that the boys shouldn’t get scouts (or that you dislike scouts) because of that seems a bit wrong as well (“If we can’t have the cool badges and the big budget then no one can.”)
What I think should happen is one of the following (in my personal preference):
1. Adoption of Girl Scouts
2. Equal budgets (if your budget is eaten up by patches and the girls get to do more cool stuff, ask the boys if they’d be willing to forgoe patches or donate them once they move onwards – keep a ward stash).
3. Ditch boy scouts and come up with a really good program for both boys and girls (ie better than achievement days…)
I know that in my stake we get $25 per child to the Primary budget. How that is split up is up to the Primary President. Not all wards and stakes do it the same way it seems though.
By the way – I think Boys should have I learn to cook and sew and Girls should have to shoot guns and set stuff on fire.
Aliegator, I had the same experience. I am not a scout fan, but I ended up enjoying being a leader for my own boys because I liked doing fun activities with them. I see a lot of value in the activities and the social networking for the boys. But now I have a stake calling that primarily involves serving as an adult volunteer for the BSA, and it sucks. Sometimes I run screaming out of the meetings. I am with KB’s #3 – we should provide an activity program to boys and girls, I just sooooo dislike the BSA.
Stephanie, I don’t think the Church needs the BSA, and it may even be harmful. I feel the Church, by it’s Missionary Program, has shown it can run a successful program for a large body of youth__on it’s own and on its own terms.
Bob, I agree.
Girl Scouts has follows some ideals that the church really doesn’t agree with.
If you want the scouting experience for girls another alternative is American Heritage Girls.
Another option is giving recognition for things girls are already doing. I talked to my mom this week and she was taking my young niece to look for charms for a charm bracelet in recognition of her doing things like completing her Faith in God award, memorizing the Family Proclamation or the articles of faith . . .
Zee DM, have you read American Heritage Girls’ statement of faith? There’s at least as much there that I disagree with as can be found in Girl Scouts.
Personally, I would rather have my daughters associate with people that I disagree with theologically than morally. However, it, of course, makes sense that the church wouldn’t sponsor participation in either group.
I likely won’t have my daughters involved in either, but rather try to fill in the gap before the Young Women’s program in a way that works for our family personally, recognizing and fostering achievement in our daughters. But, if my daughters want to be involved in something like scouting, I will look into the various community groups and decided which fits best for us (or create our own if all are unacceptable).
113/115 – The problem is that the boys go to Day Camps in the summer and all they earn there are these massive quantities of belt loops.
Now, we can say to the parents, YOU go buy them, except the handbook is pretty darn clear that you cannot ask parents to fund a program out of their own pocket. The ward must buy all awards.
So the solution is really – (a) don’t focus on anything other than basic advancement and (b) don’t go to day camps.
Although – maybe we can give the kids a nice paper printout.
The real solution, I think, is for the primary president to take the $700 we spent on awards and simply match it for the girls. When the boys complain about running a spartan program, we just blame it on the awards.