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Boy Scouts vs. Girl Scouts?

February 5, 2009

It’s interesting to see how the church has so wedded and bedded with the Boy Scouts of America…I guess I shouldn’t put it like that, since presumably, both the Boy Scouts and the church are “male”-centric organizations (or at least, they’d be represented by some man)…and…well…anyway.

If I got you to think of some kind of mental image that you didn’t like (or maybe you did), my job is done.

Anyway, Boy Scouts seems to have this kind of quasi-official status within the church…I guess I have conflicted feelings on it (actually, I have some stories about something that happened when I was volunteering for Cub Scout day camp and some words that were said that I didn’t quite understand until later…I don’t know if I’ll get to that story here.) However, I do know that a lot of people see the BSA and they see its uncanny relationship with the church. Some people, Boy Scouts who aren’t Mormon, feel that the church is driving the BSA to pieces. And when I look at my ward’s troop and the troops of other LDS wards in comparison to non-LDS troops…well, I realize I’m just generalizing and also, I’m just speaking anecdotally, but it seems that non-LDS troops are more spirited for Boy Scouts.

I suppose that’s not fair. For “good” LDS boy scout troops, I think that the integration of Priesthood with BSA is intuitive and helpful. I just haven’t seen too many “good” LDS boy scout troops (and it seems that some members are wondering what empirical good the BSA is doing for the boys anyway). But once again, I have limited anecdotal experience. More often…and this is what some nonLDS Boy Scout advocates have noted, they feel that LDS boys are subverting Boy Scouts by making it so religious and clerical while deemphasizing the outdoors/campy/rugged experience.

Thats that wholesome, American, rugged, patriotic, God-fearingness.

That's that wholesome, American, rugged, patriotic, God-fearingness.

Whatever individuals think, I think it’s fair to say that the LDS church does put emphasis on Boy Scouting. I think it’s also fair enough to say that they are such an advocate of the BSA that that organization does pay attention to the LDS church’s demands — it’s not good to disaffect your biggest customer. I don’t know how much that has to do with BSA positions against homosexual leaders or against atheists, and I’m not going to make a position in this article.

But…I realize that we have another organization. Girl Scouts. I know lots of people involved in girl scouts. My sister is in girl scouts (haha, I don’t like to acknowledge that until cookie sales come in to play). Girl Scouts seems like a good deal…it seems to be kinda different than Boy Scouts, but I guess without splitting hairs, it’s analogous enough. And yet…the church does not advocate it. Or at least, if it does, it’s nowhere to the extend it advocates the BSA. I have no idea what the heck girls are supposed to do that’s supposed to be as “big” as Boy Scouts and a relevant extension of Young Women. I understand that the girls of my ward had something else to do, but I had no idea what it was…and it was not Girl Scouts (and actually, I remember an LDS friend from elementary school who was in a girl scout troop [but this was also in Korea…hmm…{which it makes me chuckle that the BSA and GSA have extensions outside of America competing with scouting organizations in those areas}] — don’t know if it was LDS or not, though…maybe I should ask?)

I wonder why? Can the church just not take “ownership” of the GSA like they can with the BSA? I have heard people call the Girl Scouts not as “political,” or if they are political, they are “feminist” and “career-oriented.” Egads! That cannot be supported for our young daughters of God!

An obviously suspect logo

An obviously suspect logo

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  1. I have no idea what the heck girls are supposed to do that’s supposed to be as “big” as Boy Scouts and a relevant extension of Young Women.

    I know you’re all about giving the Mormons the benefit of the doubt whenever possible — as am I — but this statement really jumps out as unfounded optimism. What makes you think the church has any intention or desire for the girls to have something as “big” as Boy Scouts? Or as interesting, challenging, or whatever?

    Can the church just not take “ownership” of the GSA like they can with the BSA?

    One commenter on the fMh thread said that the Girl Scouts don’t give congregations or other sponsoring organizations as much free reign to change the program.

  2. I don’t necessarily give the church the benefit of the doubt in this case.

    For example, let’s say I look at this in a cynical way…then, that would make the BSA something that the church supports because of some calculated goal. It is an extension of the Priesthood and I think that theoretically, Boy Scouting is supposed to improve the boys’ activity rates and engagement with their priesthood duties (at least, this seems to have some merit seeing as the church has conducted statistics on whether the boy scouts actually *does* have a net positive effect on LDS youth — which suggests they are looking out for it.)

    So my question: do young women not need something that can be used to get them more interested in young women’s? To (theoretically) try to improve their church activity rates?

    I understand that the GSA isn’t as conducive to sponsoring organizations putting so much of their say on it…but I wonder if that would be different if the church had supported it earlier (or if, alternatively, that’s the reason why the church does not support it)

  3. I’m currently an 11 year old assistant scoutmaster and am deeply ambiguous about the whole thing.

    To be honest, I’d rather just take the darn kids on hikes each month, throw some camp outs, and have the kids work on their merit badges at home with mom and dad.

    But according to the powers that be, I’m supposed to meet with the boys at the church every Wednesday evening. So we end up trying to fill time each week with something that will hold the attention of a bunch of antsy 11 year olds.

    Then they’re doing “Friends of Scouting” donations this week and have one of the brethren handing out donation envelopes in the same envelopes the Bishop mails out tithing statements in.

    Don’t know… something about it just doesn’t quite sit right with me.

  4. Chris permalink

    I’ve never been a fan of “Friends of Scouting.” In our ward (stake?), the hand out the pledge forms in a joint PH/RS meeting and wait for everyone to return them. They insist that everyone return a form, even if it’s marked with a pledge of $0. It’s extremely manipulative (I know because even I, disbeliever that I am, felt rebellious marking $0).

  5. fifthgen permalink

    I have very mixed feelings about the LDS Church’s connection with the BSA. On the one hand, I was in one of those “good” troops growing up, and have very fond memories of my scouting experience. On the other hand, there is much about the BSA angenda that I do not care for, or that I would handle another way. Mostly, however, I just do not understand why, of all the non-profits out there, of all the worthy causes, we are wedded to . . . the Boy Scouts. (?!?)

    The “friends of scouting” drive bugs me, but that is only the tip of the iceberg. There is A LOT of pressure to support the BSA in many ways. I am just not sure why. My son hates Cub Scouts and I don’t make him go. Am I an unfaithful parent?

  6. fifthgen, I certainly hope you aren’t considered an unfaithful parent because you don’t make your son go to Cub Scouts.

    This certainly is interesting…friends of scouting has been brought up by several people as a negative aspect of the program.

    but fifthgen, you had said that that is only “the tip of the iceberg.” What are other things that go deeper into that iceberg?

    Or, even more creatively-minded, what kind of program other than the Boy Scouts could the church do? Should the church try to make its own unique program?

  7. I was in Brownies for a few years (the pre-girl scout program). I enjoyed it – then we moved to a different state and I didn’t get involved there. Not sure why exactly – probably financial. I wish I had stayed involved – I did like girls’ camp, but always felt like the BSA was a much stronger program than MIA.

    I agree a better coordinated program for yw would be good. I don’t think it has to be gender separated either. I think there’s a branch of BSA that is co-ed, if memory serves.

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