Scouts BSA is an organization for young men, and now young women, to develop leadership skills, an appreciation and a healthy respect for the outdoors and other people.
Very often this has been done through youth groups in a variety of religions. God is even included in the scout oath.
In Utah, scouting has always been very well supported by the LDS church. In fact, the LDS church has been the single largest supporter of the BSA for many years.
I was lucky enough to participate in scouting while growing up in Utah. In Utah, the wonder and beauty of nature are on full display year-round.
It is also majority Mormon, like my scout troop.
However, I am not a Mormon.
Fortunately, for most of my scouting career, my troop leader was not a participating member of the LDS church and our meetings were held at his house. This allowed me to be a full participant without feeling pressured to convert or left out in any way.
The boys in our troop were equal, regardless of their religious beliefs.
I worked through the ranks and eventually received my Eagle.
But as I got older, the LDS church did not make it easy or appealing to attend scouting meetings.
After my scout leader passed the position to someone else, the meetings became more about young Mormon boys getting together around more churched-based schedules and activities.
When the leadership transferred, I was not informed and no one gave me the details about the new meeting time or location. The meetings were held at their mutual night for the young men of the LDS ward. (A ward is similar to a school district, but for what church you go to.)
I did not want to attend an LDS youth group meeting just to participate in scouting. So I was left to finish my Eagle with no support from my troop leaders (I didn’t even know who they were).
(Fortunately, my old leader had his two sons going through the same thing, so we worked together as our own group of outsiders.)
Scouting no longer felt inviting. I felt like I couldn’t participate in my troop.
My sister has always done everything in the outdoors that I have done. She is a remarkably strong woman with tremendous leadership abilities. Unfortunately, there was not a scouting organization with the same sort of support available to her in my neighborhood.
I am excited that the BSA has made the decision to include girls in their programs. Nature is for everyone to enjoy, which makes it a peculiar decision for the LDS church to abandon Scouts BSA now that it is allowing in women as well.
This seems to be a continuation of the church’s practice to control a little bit of who and how young Mormon boys (and girls) interact with. My interaction with LDS friends was often on their terms. I was watched, monitored, and evaluated by friends’ parents. I lost girlfriends because their parents were unsure of my character.
The LDS church can be protective of their youth from “dangers” outside the faith.
The scouting program is changing and it seems that the people in charge of scouting in Utah would rather things stay the same.
The inclusion of girls in the scouting program is long overdue. The elements and benefits of scouting and the support structure of an organization like Scouts BSA should be available to all children.
I truly hope that this will help more young men learn to view young women with the respect that they should give to their equals.
What’s your take on what you just read? Comment below or write a response and submit to us your own point of view at the red box, below, which links to our submissions portal.
Are you a first-time contributor to The Good Men Project? Submit here:
Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:
Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:
Got Writer’s Block?
We are a participatory media company. Join us.
Participate with the rest of the world, with the things you write and the things you say, and help co-create the world you want to live in.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS.
A $50 annual membership gives you an all-access pass. You can be a part of every call, group, class, and community.
A $25 annual membership gives you access to one class, one Social Interest group, and our online communities.
A $12 annual membership gives you access to our Friday calls with the publisher, our online community.
Register New Account
Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Getty Images