(printed with permission)People have been asking me “What do you think of the Boy Scouts changing their name to ‘Scouts’?”A lot of people say it’s just Boy Scouts caving in to pressure. And there is some of that. No organization can thrive if it’s continuously being criticized for not being inclusive. I’ve been a scout leader for about 10 years and for awhile there, I got some crap for it.”Dave, how can you support an organization that bans gays?” Well, remember, the US Military banned gays up until fairly recently. The boy scouts have never been on the cutting edge of social change. They’ve always been about adventure and climbing rocks and hiking and white-water rafting. It wasn’t surprising that the boy scouts were a few years behind.A few years ago, if a bunch of Boy Scouts were walking through the airport, someone might say, “You guys should be ashamed for excluding gays!” No, YOU should be ashamed for ridiculing a bunch of boys who have nothing to do with it’s policy.See what I mean? If the Boy Scouts hadn’t finally welcomed girls, it wouldn’t thrive because of the constant scrutiny.But the Boy Scouts were ready to change, no matter what the influence was.Let’s admit something that a lot of Scout leaders don’t want to admit: Boys Scouts isn’t as popular as it was a few generations ago. Maybe parents and boys thought it was corny and silly to be in an organization that honors service to God and Country, personal responsibility, leadership and respect for the outdoors. No, much cooler to be on the lacrosse team or to play hockey where everyone is taught that only strong and fast boys are important. Where some coaches teach boys that a cheap shot is worth it if it results in a win.Sports are great. There are plenty of great coaches. There are lots of great lessons to learn. Why so many star athletes go on to have troubled lives later is a question that begs some answers, however.Sports is no substitute for Scouting. Scouting is no substitute for sports. But in Scouting, all boys can thrive. (We’ll get to girls thriving in a moment) Short boys, shy boys, skinny boys, slow boys, heavy boys. You don’t have to be strong or fast to excel in Scouting.If you want to go after organizations for being exclusionary, go after your daughter’s hockey team. Ask why the slow girls or meeker girls don’t get a lot of playing time. I mean, in a world of fairness and total equality, why should a slow, small girl sit on the bench? It’s certainly not her fault she’s not strong and fast.Carson is small. He’s not athletic. He’s kind of shy and not the best natural leader. But in Scouting, he excelled because he learned dedication, duty to his community, survival skills and how to bury poop in the woods. None of these real-world skills require him to be 6-foot-one.On the the whole “girl” thing.Tell me this. Why not? Besides the fact that they’re girls, why not?I was born at the US Air Force Academy. The Academy didn’t admit women until 1976. They realized that flying a fighter jet or a C-130 didn’t require a man, it just required a good pilot.So why not have girls in Scouting?I know they have their own organization. I don’t know much about girl scouts, but from what I’ve been told, Girl Scouts doesn’t offer two things:1. The rugged and challenging program that Boy Scouts does.2. The Eagle Rank.
I’m know Girl Scouts camp and hike and kick ass. I know a few Girl Scouts and I admire them. But you don’t hear about Girl Scouts adventures the way you hear about Boy Scouts. Maybe it’s there but maybe the marketing message isn’t as strong. People know that Boy Scouts hike and climb and wrestle bears and survive in the forest for a week with just a hatchet. And that’s appealing.
The Girls Scouts have The Gold Award. I’ve heard it’s harder to attain than the Eagle Rank in Boy Scouts. The problem is, it doesn’t carry the prestige the Eagle Scout carries. It should but it doesn’t. So girls want Eagle, the rank that says, “Holy crap! This kid made Eagle!”Here’s another thing. Boy Scouts should be more relevant than ever. This is an age where we are told be respect the earth, be kind, be accepting, and be responsible for ourselves. That’s exactly what Boy Scouts does. Why is that not cool? Maybe too many think it’s better to get bad grades, talk out loud in the movie theater, throw crap on the ground and have a few babies they can’t afford.That isn’t an option for my kid. I”m not going to follow him around the rest of my life putting out fires because he never learned anything sitting on the bench during basketball season. Sorry, but screw that. My kid is going to be prepared for life, and life ain’t easy.Your daughter should also be prepared for life. BTW, “Be Prepared” is the Scout Motto and it works everywhere in life. She should be ready to spend less than she earns, to stay away from worthless people, to not drink too much or steal from Lund’s. She should learn how to live out of a backpack for a weekend and appreciate nature. She should learn how to save your ass if you’re choking or suffer a heart attack.The above not taught in lacrosse, BTW, but that’s cool, you got a cool button with her picture on it.Your girl is welcome in Scouting. Visit a couple of different troops and find one led by people you like and are impressed by. There are some weak troops out there, so if you aren’t impressed with the first one, keep looking.We’re proud to welcome girls to such a great organization. It will change her life!