OK, I am restarting, the blog and talking about whatever I feel like talking about. Tonight it will be scouting. Scouting has become an exceptionally big part of my life over the past couple of decades. Most of my involvement in scouting came after my kids had gone through the program and were pretty done with it.
I knew I would stay involved, that I enjoyed scouting, enjoyed the people I encountered and loved the mission of scouting, preparing young people to make a lifetime of ethical and moral decisions, and, ya know, I think we need more of that. But the thing that really sealed it for me was the BSA finally overturning their outdated and patriarchal policy, and allowing girls into the flagship programs.
I had left scouting at 15 or so, and really had no intention of ever going back. There was more than one reason why I left Scouting. For one thing, it was the late 60s / early 70s, Vietnam war and the social upheavals of that era made scouting uncomfortable for me. I often joke that I quit scouting because all my friends were smoking dope and getting laid, and there were no merit badges for that. And there was some truth to that.
It was also true that my experience at the national Junior Leader Instructor Training Camp (JLITC) the precursor to National Youth Leadership Training Leadership Academy (NYLT LA), was less than positive. The thing I remember most was that I didn’t do well on uniform inspections, which happened every day, and got dinged at one point because I laughed. The whole militaristic vibe of scouting at that time (late sixties / early seventies) turned me off.
Then my son turned 8 and got invited to a cub scout meeting. It was the first time I had ever seen him so engaged at an activity, and (sigh) we were in. I became a den leader and then a scoutmaster. The big thing for me was bringing kids on adventures. Some of them were great, some were (ahem) memorable.
But we did them all. When my daughter turned 14, we joined venturing and I became advisor to the crew. I started actively recruited and brought in this group of incredible young women. We had a bunch of wild adventures including wilderness backpack, extreme winter snow camps, and others. It was lots of fun. Sarah was approaching 18 as were most of the youth in the crew, and I was getting ready to step aside. Well, right then the BSA announced that girls would be accepted in the two flagship programs. But, rather than being accepted into existing troops, new troops had to be formed. There were a few girls in the crew that really wanted to be eagles, and they were already 16. So we formed a troop, and soon grew to being one of the largest troops in the country.
The troop is successful. The scouts and parents are awesome, and starting the troop may be the most significant accomplishment of my life. And yet, I feel it is temporary. Single gender scouting will end, and the future of scouting is coed. So instead of retiring, I have been advocating for inclusion.
So why me? I can, I have the privilege, I have the time, and there is a certain amount of fun that I have being subversive.
I guess, why not?