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

Ha ha – that is classic. I see the film version starring Darren McGavin as your dad.

So how many of there were you? You mention brothers and sisters in the plural.

I went through the Mormonified version of the Boy Scouts in the 90s.

My experience was basically that it was as good/enjoyable as whoever the leader was. Some of the leaders I had really enjoyed the outdoors/camping etc (I grew up in Washington State), while others used it as a chance to lecture us with lessons that weren’t that distanced from our Sunday School ones. By the time I was about 15 or so I was basically done with organized scouting, not because I completed everything but because I felt it had no more to offer me, that and my general disinterest in the LDS Church at this point.

Having gone through some of the leadership programs both as a youth, and as an adult (well as much of an adult as a 22 year old is) I don’t think Scouting, whether done by the Mormons or not, is inherently a sinister program. I do think there are a lot of poorly trained and poorly screened leaders in the program however.

Boy scouts.

There are alternatives to boy scouts to put your kids in - I myself was in 4-H as a kid, and learned all the outdoorsy stuff at a 4-H away camp. It’s co-ed and non-religious! It’s usually done through State Universities and mine at least was centered around being responsible to the environment; 4-H was into the green movement before it was cool, man!

To be fair, the biggest problem with that picture is that someone let them stack without muzzle awareness.

Thanks everyone. Very interesting, I’ll certainly check out Campfire etc. Also it looks like the Unitarians are trying to make nice.

I forgot to mention that I was actually a Boy Scout myself for a while. I was too nerdy though, and also too smart. Once we were in the woods and the other kids were trying to light a campfire and there was a shit-ton of smoke coming out. Having lit a lot of fires in our fireplace at home, I knew that if you just put a piece of burning paper near the smoke at the base of the fire, it would go FWOOMP and presto, major flame. So I was all like “Just light the smoke!!!” and they were like “stfu n00b.” That pretty much showed me they didn’t give a shit about actually learning anything.

I always wanted to join the Boy Souts, but my mom would only let me be in Awana (way back before they started wearing glorified Wal-Mart uniforms).

Just a clarification, here: The Indian Guides changed names and evolved substantially, but still essentially exist as the YMCA/“Y” Adventure Guides/Trailblazers (although some groups branched out independently to team up with the Native Sons and Daughters Program).

Edit - I used to be in scouting. I went to Jamborees and Klondikes (my troop even won a couple when I was there). I never saw or heard of any inappropriate relationships between scoutmasters and kids. That said, I did get significantly hazed by the kids (seemed to be the case with everyone). Belief in God was technically incorporated, but it was pretty much just a “Do you think you might possibly classify yourself as Agnostic? That’s good enough” approach that was used.

My kid is a rather gentle soul, and I figured going through something like that hazing and what-not wouldn’t be the best experience and so I kept him out. I still question my decision to this day, but he seems pretty well adjusted … of course he probably can’t tie a bowline knot for the life of him, lol.

My first year or 2 was tough b/c of the hazing. It was still fun but the hazing made it tougher to enjoy. I’d say all scout troop have some form of hazing with some of it being benign amusing (snipe hunts, left handed smoke shifter) to the mean and harmful. If you’re the latter troop, shop around. But I’d venture that most activities with pre-teen and then teen-age boys with limited adult supervision has some hazing rituals and not all of them harmful.

Boy Scouts was tremendous for me, especially having a single mom during those years. The BSA has some tremendous resources that no one else has. If your kid likes the outdoors, then the opportunity to hike at Philmont is a thrill of a lifetime. Over twenty years later, I have great vivid memories of that experience. There are similar nautical and other high adventure sites that good Boy Scout council and troops will do.

Your experience is definitely impacted by your troop. We had a troop that focused on self-sufficiency with monthly campouts. Being a patrol leader that has to budget, buy and arrange for the prep/cleaning of meals is an eye-opening experience for young men. (Hint: while we love sloppy joes, trying to eat them half through a 20 mile hike is a terrible idea.)

A few things.

  1. Locally, the Y’s youth organization, Adventure Guides, is very popular. We’re a fairly liberal part of the Bible Belt USA, and the anti-gay stance of the national Boy Scouts organization caused deep divisions in the local scouting chapter. Parents looked for alternatives. The local Y benefitted. Thanks for letting me know that Indian Guides are still alive and well as Adventure Guides.

  2. 4-H is incredibly popular. Thanks for reminding me about it. We have a lot of farming area around us, but a surprising amount of the local university brats belong to 4-H, where they learn about animals, alfalfa, and technology. It’s not just about agriculture anymore.

  3. Cadets totally rock! While I’m American, I did A levels in England. While the Army cadets weren’t terribly interesting to me, the RAC cadets were really cool. I wanted to join so that I, too, could jump out of airplanes!!! At the time, I was a bit concerned about citizenship requirements. Oh, and the cadets had a way cool obstacle course with rope bridges, logs, and EVERYTHING. Also, they even had uniforms (though at the time, girls had to wear skirts–US Armed Forces were so far ahead in terms of gender equity at that time). One appeal of the RAC cadets was that they had more things that girls did.


Ha, ha. Good pick. He was “you’ll shoot your eye out” guy, right?

There were seven of us. When that happened, I think there may have only been six of us. All of us are about two years apart, except for me and my younger sister who were born at opposite ends of the same year.

Elhajj trivia: all the names of kids in our family started with the letter T. I think this must have been a 60s thing. My wife’s family is the same way, but they (had fewer kids and) went with the letter H.

Boy Scouts are very much like the Catholic Church, pedophilia comparisons aside. Great at the tribe level, iffy at the regional level, pretty nasty at the worldwide level. Kids learning things is always a good idea, especially when those things are real and not just reciting some idiotic creed over and over (Hi Jews! And Catholics! And religion in general!) though the Scouts have some of that as well.

(Pledge of Allegiance, I now pronounce you husband and wife, I agree to and understand the terms I have just read, etc.) ;)

I learned a lot of valuable things in Scouts, including how to know when bullies are bluffing, how to identify and manage psychos, how to blunt the edge of anxiety, how to defy nutty old men without getting in trouble, how to manipulate other kids into helping me do things I had to do (aka “leadership”), etc. Also knives.

“I don’t like the KKK’s attitude towards blacks, but they never came up in my clan. So it didn’t really bother me.”


“I disapproved of the KKK’s attitude towards blacks, so I volunteered in their clan’s bake sale in the hope that I could convince them that there is such a thing as a good black person.”

Are you for real? Is this honestly your response to an organization that explicitly advocated intolerance & a rigid right-wing moral code? Jesus dude. You are a true boy scout.

“I don’t like the KKK’s attitude towards blacks, but they never came up in my clan. So it didn’t really bother me.”

But that wouldn’t happen, because the clan is actually founded on racist ideas.

By the way, there’s a huge difference between this post “I had fun & avoided the bad stuff” vs. Jon’s “There’s nothing wrong with scouting! They’re awesome!” No, the organization is not awesome. They’re kinda disgusting. On the other hand, many of the individuals within the organization are awesome, and some troops have a lot of fun. But to defend scouting as an institution is absurd, unless you actually agree with their stated (and publically defended) intolerance.

But if it did happen (My clan is more about dressing up in cool outfits) then Jon wouldn’t have a problem with the clan overall anymore.

But then it wouldn’t be the fundamentally racist institution that it is. So it wouldn’t actually be the kkk. So why should he have a problem with them?