Category Archives: Scouts

About scouting

Typical Troops, Atypical Scouts

SunriseAbout 1 in 8 kids these days have a “special need” or “invisible disability” or something else that poses a challenge in traditionally structured situations like school or Scouting. In ages past, a Scout leader could expel or “ease out” a Scout that presented behavior problems or otherwise didn’t “fit.”

It’s important to talk about how we will work with kids in the normal troop environment with special needs.  ADHD, autism down syndrome. Leaders need tips on how to handle kids, their parents and medication. 

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For kids with ‘something’

I’m always looking for better ways to understand invisible disabilities with an eye towards helping Scouts and Scouters succeed in the movement. This one is pretty general, but it gives me some food for thought: The Ultimate List of Gifts for Sensory Seekers, from Mama OT’s blog.

I especially like that the second paragraph warns of overstimulation. There’s a tendency to think that if “a little of X” makes things good, then “a lot of X” makes things better. It’s important to know when and when not to indulge.

A Scout’s Required Belief in God

SunriseHere’s the bottom line: If the Scout participates in any type of religious organization, whether it speaks of God or not, there’s no problem.

If the Scout perceives some power, essence, being, or motive force in the universe that could deserve to be called ‘God,’ there should be no problem.

On the other hand, if the Scout or Scout’s family’s personal beliefs forbid referring to any entity as ‘God’ then the Scout could have trouble participating in BSA’s Scouting programs.

Here’s how it works.

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Does God scare kids from Scouting?

God commandsRecently, I spoke to a young adult who avoided attending a funeral. To quote, “The religious stuff creeped me out.”

This is a common reaction from people who haven’t confronted choices of faith, or haven’t resolved them.

Most religious institutions aren’t trying to creep people out. Shouldn’t we minimize or prevent such feelings?

Boy Scouts practically excludes youth brought up outside of religious groups. I don’t think the founders of Scouting wanted to exclude any boys from Boy Scouts. I think we can fix it.

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Learning the Knots

BSA Knot AwardsNo, I’m not talking about the ones we tie with ropes. I’m talking about the obscure rectangles shown at left. Adult scout leaders in the BSA receive these knots for training, service, and achievements.

But they’re incomprehensible to most people, even scouting volunteers. I just created an online resource if you’d like to ‘crack the code’ posed by these knots.

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Scouting and Stubenville

I’ve mostly avoided news coverage of Steubenville because such tragedies sicken me on many levels, especially the way everyone involved is smeared with dirt by some news reporter or blogger.

Events like this should make us ask, “Why does almost every kid’s parent hope to raise a star player?”

How can this be healthy for growing boys or girls? We always hear about how sports teach ethical lessons beyond the mere rules of the game. But here’s the object lesson of sports teaching “win at all costs,” and “to the victors belong the spoils.”

Scouting has its shortcomings (and there is hope they’re being addressed) but it’s more than badges. The good troops (and there are lots of them out there) lead by example, give the kids a lot of non-sexually-themed things to do, and explicitly promote honesty, courtesy, and courage.

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What change might look like

Inclusive Scouting Patch

Last week we filled out surveys from the Boy Scouts of America about proposed “membership standards” changes that would lift the official ban on gay scouts and adults. With my active volunteer work in scouting and my gay daughter and daughter-in-law, I’m in the middle of it. Towelroad (self-described as “a site with homosexual tendencies”) has posted an accurate copy of the questions I was asked, more or less (the scenarios were renumbered). Towelroad doesn’t comment on the survey, but lets it speak for itself.

[Update 3/19/13 – Slate published a piece claiming that the survey is biased towards changing the policy. The Dallas Voice, a GLBT publication, has also published a copy of the survey.]

And yes, the survey may be the epitome of political incorrectness. But this is what change looks like if you’re going to carry on conversations instead of just shouting at each other.

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