Scouts will include girls, units are single-gender, programs the same

WEBELOWS (whipped rope) to Philmont to leather crafting in my adult life, scouting has impacted me

For those still interested. Scouts will include girls, same programs as boys, all units will be single gender and as much as possible the same grade in school. Two adults are required for any scout gathering, for girls units at least one must be female over age 21.

The goal is to offer the same life changing life experiences to all children, regardless of gender, with no intention of creating any environment where abuse could occur.

My personal experience is with Troop 433 in South Bend, which had at least 12 men who shared the adult responsibilities.

We went camping EVERY month, rain, snow, tornado, it didn’t matter. We (the boys) were organized by patrols and had our own elected patrol leader. Our patrols also went camping and hiking and met weekly.

We did Scout-O-Rama every year (I earned my first scout knife by selling tickets, then promptly cut myself and lost a corner of my tote-n-chip card right in front of my scout master).

We did Klondike Derby every year, and our troop was so well trained and disciplined that we were told we did earn all the awards in all the contests but they had to give some to the others. We learned to be kind. We learned to each bring a can of soup for the big pot so everyone ate around that big cooking fire on a cold winter day.

And did I mention we had FUN?

This program change will begin by including girls in all-girl Cub Scouts units.

I remember Jack Hill leading my Cub Scout group, and today I still use the rope handling, knots, and whipping skills he taught us. We had fun learning, and so did the adults! Mr. Hill was one of the leaders camping with us at a little place west of South Bend with a big lodge and a creek. He was chasing one of us and stepped on a log spanning the creek to get across, but Mr. Hill was more than the log could handle, so he got dumped into the creek.

I remember (Mr.) Bob Fuller hiking with us through the pine forest even though he had gout and it hurt.

I remember that once I got to go to Philmont Scout Ranch where we lived in the wilderness hiking and camping for a week.

I remember my first camping with the troop when we went for a weekend at a lodge on the Tippecanoe river. I pitched my tent on a bit of too-low land, and it rained with a vengeance that night. One of the adult leaders caught me floating on my air mattress heading down to the river and took me into the lodge where they had a nice fire going and dried us all out.

My brother’s eagle project was conservation to prevent erosion (planting kudzu) and mine was creating a week long summer camp for oral deaf kids who my speech therapist aunt taught in the Gary school system.

Scouting was more than fun: I learned that adults can work together as a committee to make an amazing troop, and that it is infinitely better than one man doing everything as sole dictator. I learned that when you have a bunch of adults with many different careers they all still have fun and the diversity makes for a very strong troop because each adult can teach us something from their world.

I learned that I can make things, fletch arrows, hit targets, swim, fish, canoe, stalk, save lives with first aid, patch a knothole with a tin can lid, sharpen a knife or axe, start a real fire with no gasoline and only one match, cook my own food AND clean up my dishes afterwards using that fire, including an easy way to get ALL the soot off the pans, dump the fish guts OUTSIDE AWAY from camp, dump water AWAY FROM the tent door so I don’t have to walk in it later, that a brown eagle sitting on a limb five feet off the ground in your campsite is one BIG bird (even if you tell your nieces and nephews it’s a ‘birdus woodsus’): I learned that I could (and should) plan and discipline my actions for success, and that my success was my own responsibility.

Above all I learned to leave my campsite (and my world) in better shape than I found it. Girls need that responsible attitude in their innermost being just as much as boys do, because girls grow up to become women and boys grow up to become men, and those are the people who will be changing our world in just one decade. We need it changed in a good way, by responsible people.

My experiences growing up with scouting changed my leadership and personal responsibility perspective, and I still live today to try to make the world a better place as a result: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the scout law, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. I admit I am slacking on the physically strong part but I’m working on that.

Girls need this too. Not every girl cares to go camping or hunt or fish. Not every boy does either. Those who do should have a good place to learn and grow to be amazing. Girls can camp and lead and actually work with their hands instead of just being helpless consumers always waiting for someone else to save them. Our world needs women who will step up to the plate to form committees, who take responsibility working together, to make troops for girls to grow up in, or corporations for people to work in, or governments to guard our peace and prosperity, just as we need men to do these things.

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