Some situations demand a specific kind of leadership, yet all four ways are equal in importance. In many situations we are all four kinds of leader at once.
We build skills, attitudes and perspectives that inspire Scouts to lead by helping other people. Promises in the oath and ideals of the law create a strong sense of duty, responsibility, and resolve aimed at serving others.
When you are a Scout being a leader isn’t something you will become someday in the future, you are a leader right now.
Things go off the rails if we view leadership as something granted to certain older Scouts, or we associate leadership with power and privilege rather than service. Scout leadership is not defined by organizational job descriptions, patches, and charts. Scout leadership is not a structure of power and privilege.
I’ve never liked isolating leadership training into a special event because Scouting is always leadership training. If you are A Scout you simply can’t avoid learning the lessons of leadership.
From the youngest Cub to the oldest Scout or Venturer we are training leaders.
Today the BSA announced Family Scouting starting next fall with girls in Cub Scouting, and “a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank.”
There are certainly a number of things to discuss but today I just wanted to post links to key resources about the announcement:
This week I want to discuss responses to a post I published last week about gender in Scouting: Girls in the BSA.
The post garnered lot’s of responses both for and against the idea of the BSA becoming a co-ed organization, and I’ll discuss some of the objections in this podcast. The question of gender and Scouting can be an explosive one since gender issues have caused much consternation and disagreement over the years. Fortunately nearly all the Scouters who replied to last weeks post did so in a reasonably level tone, something uncommon in the average online discussion.
A rough calculation of the responses revealed that 45% favored the change enthusiastically, 37% disagreed with equal enthusiasm, and 18% thought it was a good idea but expressed varied concerns.
Organizations usually embrace cultural change slower than their individual members. Any organization of national scope and more than a century of service is likely to have found itself behind the curve because they are reluctant to face cultural realities – especially when championing a set of values and ethics trumpeted as unchanging and unalterable. It’s clear, however, that Scouting organizations have changed how they interpret and express their values many times. The motivations for change come from internal discussions and external pressures, things evolve, things change and these changes are not all bad.
I want the BSA to be a fully co-ed organization with no limitations on how girls participate.
Before you lose it understand I don’t think girls in the BSA should be forced on anyone. More about that later.
I think we can and must make this happen for one simple reason: it is the right thing to do.
I can’t say I always thought this way.
We first visited Kandersteg International Scout Center in Switzerland six years ago. The vast majority of World Scouting is co-ed. How would my Scouts react to girls as Scouts on an equal footing with boys? Turns out I needn’t have worried. My Scouts accepted a Scout is a Scout regardless of their gender very quickly. It took me a little longer, but not much.
I guess seeing is believing, at least that’s all it took for me. A Scout is a Scout: it really is as simple as that.
I know it may take more to convince some folks this is the right thing to do. Before I talk about one caveat to having girls in the BSA here’s a simple question:
Should Gender Define Scouting?
Scouting in the United States is divided by gender. This division assumes girls and boys are fundamentally different and develop differently. This division also indicates we are okay with having gender continue to be a major determining factor in our children’s choices and futures.
It is easy to find hundreds of studies documenting gender-based developmental differences. These studies may not explain the difference between biological sex characteristics and assigned gender roles. Fact is many of those developmental differences are caused by assigned gender roles, not biological sex characteristics.
We are born with biological sex characteristics, but we learn gender roles.
The taboos, definitions, and expectations of assigned gender roles woven into our religious beliefs, our families, our politics, our careers, and ourselves, are very powerful. Gender conditioning begins right away (pink for girls and blue for boys) so we accept it as the natural state of things.
Gender roles are not biological, and they have not remained consistent. Within my lifetime they have changed considerably. I am old enough to recall when women first entered many traditionally male roles. This was remarkable enough to be newsworthy: “Town Hires First Lady Policeman”. Let’s also acknowledge enforcing gender roles as we do almost exclusively benefits men – that’s not an opinion, that’s our history.
People of goodwill agree character, talents, and abilities should define our children’s future rather than things like gender, skin color, or sexual orientation. If that is true it follows we’ll stop dividing our children into gender based groups and treating them differently.
One Caveat and Two Minor Issues
One caveat: allow chartering organizations to choose how they incorporate girls in the BSA. Some would choose to become fully co-ed, some would choose to remain as they are, some would have boys and girls in separate groups.
Two relatively minor issues; the logistics of personal privacy in accommodations, and inappropriate fraternization. Both sound terrifically complicated until you realize somehow the rest of the world of Scouting and our co-ed Venturing program successfully manages these two issues.
Negative reactions to what I am writing here are predictable. Asking for equality from the privileged causes the privileged to react in fear and anger as though they are being oppressed or stand to lose something.
Before you react negatively tell me if it’s okay to define your child’s opportunities by gender, skin color, or sexual orientation.
If your answer is “no” why would you want that for any child?
If you’d like to read more about the gender from a man’s perspective I recommend Robert Webb’s insightful, hilarious, contemporary, and liberating discussion of gender in his memoir How Not to be a Boy.
… join me as I talk about two key ideas for Scouters I hope you find helpful .
This podcast condenses into one talk the answers I wrote to several common email questions I had this summer. I want to share two key ideas I have talked about many times before, but I think are always important to emphasize. You can’t talk too much about these two ideas for Scouters, I hope!
Scouters are in the opportunity business, we create opportunities for young people to do things. How we approach our work is all important, our attitudes, perspectives and methods are important – because we are believers in the ability of young people to make our world a better place.
We do our work in a relentlessly positive atmosphere – the Scout oath and law are about who to be and what to do, not who not to be and what not to do.
Young people yearn for leaders to take them in a positive direction, one that points them towards love and goodwill, they do great things, and become great leaders themselves if we create the opportunities and encourage them to understand and apply the ideals of Scouting.