So, Boy Scouts: evil, pure evil, or sometimes non-evil?

JMJ’s overview is about right from what I saw. Scouting is a strange institution.

So according to Bullshit, the BSA was co-opted by the Mormons in the 80’s, leading to their anti-atheist, anti-gay, anti-agnostic policy.

Yes, take it with a grain of salt.

That said, I was a Boy Scout in the 80’s before I was an atheist, but I wouldn’t go near the organization nowadays.

I was a boy scout one summer or so. It was ok. I enjoyed the camping trip I went on and no adult did anything funny. The meetings were mostly boring but we held them at the grade school gym so after the meeting we got to play dodge ball – that was the highlight.

I couldn’t be bothered to do merit badge stuff because you had to earn about a million badges for it to mean anything.

The uniform was stupid. The handbook was boring. It was something to do and that’s about all the enthusiasm I had for it, which explains why only one summer.

I did get abused in Cub Scouts, though! Not like that, guys. My troop went to a Cardinals baseball game and another scout and I got left behind when they left. That’s right – the adult dad at the game failed to do a head count and just left without us. I think he was probably into the Anheuser Busch products a bit much.

Anyway, an usher took us to a phone and I called my dad and he came and got us, but the cool part was we got to sit in the tunnel where the players exit, so we got tons of autographs. My friend and I would be elbowing each other and saying, “Look! It’s Orlando Cepeda coming now!” That part was rather cool.

Still, how could an adult leave kids behind! Amazing!

I was in scouting between cub and boy scouts until I was 18 and I have nothing but good memories about the experience. Camping 4-5 times a year, community service activities and all of that. If I had a child I would have no issues with him being in cub or boy scouts.

I can’t imagine how awkward the jamborees must be when the Americans are around.

My troop did that to a kid, at Disney World, a two-hour drive from home (Gainesville).

Not quite the same thing, because there’s no scoutmaster and fathers take a more active role, but I was in a YMCA Indian Guides troop for a few years; I think from age 5 to 8. They’re known as “Adventure Guides” now, and they’re very prominent in the Pacific Northwest.

I always had a blast. My troop consisted of me and 8 or so of my friends, and our “pow-wows” would generally consist of a meeting for about an hour, then the nine of us would tear around the yard while the dads shot the shit and had a few beers. I do remember my “Indian name” was “Fighting Turtle.” Yeah, guess what TV show I liked when I was five.

It wasn’t particularly organized, although it had the potential to be. I remember the larger gatherings on Orcas Island having tons of “tribes,” some of whom had uniforms and everything. It’s really just how serious you and the other dads want it to be. I think the YMCA would send you a kit or something if you wanted to start a new troop with other families in your area.

I was a Cub Scout for two years. I liked it well enough, especially in my first year, but in my second year, the Scout Master spent most of our meetings threatening to tape her kids’ mouths shut and throw them down the stairs if they kept interrupting.

Plus, they didn’t tell me about the Space Derby, and I only discovered it while it was in session, when I walked by the school library on the way back from a book club meeting.

So, after a year spent enduring a psychotic bitch of a den mother, I dropped out.

Wouldn’t the motherland for scouting actually be England? My understanding is that the Boy Scouts were originally created to instill the ideals of the British Empire in young boys.

My dad and mom left my little brother behind in a grocery store cart one time. A dude came tearing after us flashing his lights and blowing his horn and my dad pulled over and jumped out of the car like he was going to fight. All my brothers and sisters were looking out the window whispering to one another that dad was going to kick that guy’s ass. But then dad talked to him for a few seconds and came running back to the station wagon, fired it up, and did a big U-turn. He said, “We left someone behind!” And then we all started looking around, and we noticed my little brother Ted wasn’t in the car. We came back and there was Ted, sitting in the little cart seat crying his head off.

Seconding this - I loved my time in the Army Cadets.

I am an eagle scout, and I would say that Boy Scouts was one of the most rewarding experiences I have had in my life. Not only did I have fun camping and hiking, but I also learned tons and tons of important life skills doing merit badges.

It is so alarming to me when I meet people who don’t know how to do some basic stuff.

Seriously though, it varies extremely from troop to troop. Our troop was very inclusive and tolerant. There was very little religion mentioned in our group.

From what I have read, as you move further west into Mormon country the groups become more and more religious.

Additionally, if you are worried about pedophilia? That is just stupid. Most of the troops are made up of parents and father volunteers. If you are so worried about your kid, volunteer with the troop and come to the meetings. Go kayaking together, camping, hiking.

While I don’t agree with many of their intolerant policies, they never came up in our troop, and if it bothers you that much volunteer and try to make a difference from within.

Read about Lord Baden Powell, the “father” of scouting.

Choice Quotes

If you make listening and observation your occupation you will gain much more than you can by talk.

We never fail when we try to do our duty, we always fail when we neglect to do it.

The most worth-while thing is to try to put happiness into the lives of others.

“The sport in Scouting is to find the good in every boy and develop it.”

“In all of this, it is the spirit that matters. Our Scout law and Promise, when we really put them into practice, take away all occasion for wars and strife among nations.”

No one can pass through life, any more than he can pass through a bit of country, without leaving tracks behind, and those tracks may often be helpful to those coming after him in finding their way.

Last Words:

Leave this world a little better than you found it.

You couldn’t find a less evil person if you tried. (Maybe Ghandi)

I absolutely hate the rep that the scouts gets from outsiders, and honestly, the U.S. management deserves every bit of it. They have done some stupid stuff, and stand next to a lot of principles that Powell would probably find abhorrent if he were alive today, but speaking from my own experience, not every troop is like what you hear about.

Are you kidding me? Do you have any idea what Baden-Powell’s purpose in creating the Scouts was? It’s not some top secret thing, it’s right there in my 1989 or whatever edition of the book except it’s written in nice language. It was a paramilitary organization designed to get poor young men outdoors doing some physical exercise and learning skills related to survival. Not because he had any particular affection, but because he thought Britain would need them in the coming war, because you can’t have your cannon fodder weezing and gasping up the hill. By now the act of dressing up such intentions in morality plays should be old hat.

Now, that doesn’t mean Scouts haven’t done good things for people. But you need to be realistic about B-P and the original design of the organization.

I went all the way through the Scouting program as well. It was a blast. My pack/troop had practically no religious overtones. We were focused almost entirely on the outdoors and community service.

Never had any qualms about any adults present and the friends I made are still close friends today. I don’t regret the time I spent, even with the opportunity cost of actually spending time with girls.

OK, there was some hazing. And I got set on fire once. But hey, stuff happens. My son’s a Cub Scout now and, assuming he stays interested, I look forward to him getting his Eagle. The organization feels less tolerant than it used to be and some of the adult leader training is mildly insulting, but the program is ultimately what you as an adult make of it. If I stay engaged, I can make sure that he has a positive experience and steer clear of whatever homophobic, racist or religious influences creep up.

Not only is this an extreme exaggeration, but it is bombastic, irrelevant, and completely off the point.

The first group he got together was used for this point, but later on, he re-tooled the book to a more youth focused book that included many of the native american themed teachings from Seton’s book. Woodcraft Indians (or something similar)

Calling scouting a paramilitary organization could be nothing further from the truth. It was more of using military stylings of patrols, uniforms, leaderships and ranks as a method for teaching young boys leadership, companionship and important life skills.

Read a bit about the first book (which was transformed from his military manuals)

I just wanted to highlight this for a moment and celebrate it. How is this off the point? You disagree with it because it violates…something that you obviously can’t articulate well, but that’s not the same thing.

The first group he got together was used for this point, but later on, he re-tooled the book to a more youth focused book that included many of the native american themed teachings from Seton’s book. Woodcraft Indians (or something similar)

There is some dissent between his hagiographies and biographies around to what extent he was primarily focused on his duty to Britain’s military with the scouts’ founding, but few credible sources that I’ve seen that seek to deny it altogether (sorry BSA, you’re disqualified because your history relies on omission these days). If you look at older scout manuals they emphasize the utility of x skill in war situations quite a bit, because they were all adapted from his original very military manual.

Besides, there’s nothing particularly wrong with B-P’s goal, given the context of his time. However, there is something wrong with trying to retcon him into the modern breed of scouting ideal, which is the sort of crap you describe. He was a military strategist first and foremost, and it took him a while to break the habit. Specifically, it took the meat grinder of WWI, after which he may genuinely have changed his views as he claimed as his approach to Scouting became strongly internationalist and much less focused on the other stuff.

Calling scouting a paramilitary organization could be nothing further from the truth. It was more of using military stylings of patrols, uniforms, leaderships and ranks as a method for teaching young boys leadership, companionship and important life skills.

Pure coincidence, right? The context and the uniforms and the nationalism were all just there by accident? I don’t think you know what paramilitary means in this context; by no stretch of the imagination am I suggesting that anything other than getting draftees to better than 2/9 meeting military standards. He wasn’t training future officers, necessarily, those already got their outdoors time.

So other than the uniforms, the discipline, the fitness, the patrol training, the survival skills, the gun stuff, the nation worship/idolatry, even if it’s an abstract view of a country that has never actually existed…what do you think it would take to make a paramilitary organization count in your view? Does the Michigan Militia count?

26 Our empire: Hints to instructors, Our empire, How our empire grew, how the empire must be held, Hints to instructors, Books to read, Display
27 Citizenship: Scout’s duty as a citizen, Duties as citizen-soldier, Marksmanship, Helping police, Hints to instructors, Games, Books to read
28 United we stand, divided we fall: Hints to instructors, Our Navy and Army, Our flag, Our government, Our King, Books to read

How about you read it, before you link it? I bet those hints to instructors are all a bunch of Gandhi quotes that time traveled. And don’t get me started on Gandhi, either.

This explains so much about Timmy.

If I got left behind, I would have just thumbed a ride home.

I had a lot of fun in the Boy Scouts and that was even in Montana, where you would have expected the right wingers to be in charge. Wasn’t the case, though, which just goes to prove that it really depends on who is running the show. And in most troops that’s a scoutmaster, not the national organization. I learned a lot and we never talked about guns or religion. There was a seperate mormon troop in the area, though.

It’s like anything else you might want your kids to get involved in, though. As a parent you need to figure out if the person running the show is someone you feel comfortable with.