Chris Estevez Contributor, MDI
Here come the girls…
Unless you have had your head in the sand, you know the Boy Scouts of America have announced the decision to allow girls to join the organization. Of course, this has spurred a multitude of opinions on the subject. Many of the loudest of which are coming from individuals and organizations that have very little if any experience in the program. Having an excess of 30 years in Scouting at just about every level, and as a parent of an Eagle Scout, I do believe I have a base to formulate a fact-based opinion on the subject.
First, let us take a look at the mission of the Boy Scouts of America.
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Boy Scout Oath and Law.
If you notice the mission is not gender specific. Currently, gender neutral organizations are applauding this decision as being a victory. It really is not. The uninitiated women have been involved in Scouting since the 1960’s. There have been women Scout Leaders since the 60’s. In fact, the Boy Scouts of America has had a co-ed program in which girls have been allowed membership since 1969. Initially called the Explorer Program, it currently goes under the Venture Scouting moniker. So you see, girls have been involved in Boy Scouts for over 48 years.
So why now the change?
Rest assured for the Boys Scouts of America, this is a purely economic decision.
Enrollment is down to its lowest levels in the last 50 years. This has nothing to do with being inclusive. Remember Scouting already has coed programs. The enrollment drop seems to be a result of the multitude of choices available for a young boy’s leisure time, and the fact that societal mores are changing and moving away from the tenants ascribed in the Scout Oath and Law. This of course is very sad and a subject for another article.
This decision could very well backfire on the Scouting movement. It is very hard to understand the need in the current climate to dismantle any organization that is gender specific or has a gender specific component. Similar to MDI’s men-only approach, Scouting in its original form was a place for young boys to let their masks down, be transparent, and learn the proper way a mature young man is supposed to “behave.”
Through outdoor activities experienced in a fun environment, young boys and young men learned self-sufficiency, leadership, citizenship and the concepts of service – all in an environment where mistakes were welcomed and learned from. The fact that these young boys and men learn this in a gender-specific environment is of paramount importance to their success. Men in today’s society have a problem removing their masks. Can you imagine a teenage boy doing that in front of a group of teenage girls? The program whether by design or happenstance can take a young boy from the immature archetypes to the mature male. It is a known fact that it is easier to create good men from boys then it is to “fix” broken men.
The mission of Scouting is more critical than ever for young men. In a society where so many young men are not growing up with proper male role models, Scouting’s mission to young men becomes critical. The world needs a gender-specific organization that caters specifically to this need. Teddy Roosevelt said this about the Scouting movement: “The prime lesson that the Boy Scout movement is teaching is the lesson that manliness in its most vigorous form can be and ought to be accompanied by unselfish consideration for the rights and interest of others.” We need this now more than ever. Can these results be met in a coed environment?
The Boys Scouts of America has been one of the premier organization since 1910 in developing and preparing young boys to be productive citizens. It remains to be seen if this can continue. Being a Scouter for over 30 years, I do not have high hopes for that.
I leave you with this. Would MDI be the same for you if women were in our circles?