Saturday, January 13, 2007

Court of Honor

Last weekend my little family went to my nephew’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor.

I am proud of him, as only 4% or less of boy scouts become eagle scouts. I couldn’t help thinking about this little stunt that he and my other nephew (who is also an eagle scout) pulled a while ago during the code of honor part. To my credit i did not snort.

I have a hard time with scouting because of two things. One is the God connection. And the other is their stand on gays. Also, i do have some personal bad memories from when i was a girl scout. But i also recognize that scouting can be a really positive influence for many kids. Well, unless they are gay or atheists.

One really sweet part of the ceremony was when the leader guy asked all the eagle scouts in the room to stand up and tell us their troop number and when they became eagle scouts. That was cute as there were some pretty old guys there who got to stand up.

It ended with 5 extremely self-conscious boys performing the flag ceremony, us all in a big circle holding hands and singing, and cake. I am not so good with holding hands and singing with people i don't know. Sigh of relief when it was over.

Maybe the two of them will grow into the kind of people that they promised that they already were.


Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about the scouts. My son joined cub scouts after no less than a billion hours of soul-searching on my part. I like the fact that it teaches them so many good things - basic skills, citizenship, discipline, etc. But I HATE the anti-gay thing (and feel a little uncomfortable - even as a not-so-great christian - with the God stuff). It took the prompting of a lesbian scout leader that I met online to finally go for it. But several years later, I still have problems with the same things. And being the type to speak my mind, there has been no shortage of "friendly" arguments between the scout leader and me over the gay issue. I am just hoping that I am raising him right and he comes away with the good things from scouts and still learns the values I want him to.

urban-urchin said...

My daughter is a brownie. I take comfort in the fact that they are encouraginc my kid to be civic minded, esp. when I see what is influencing kids ( dear God do I sound old....)

Anonymous said...

My nephew joined the scouts last year and it has been one of the most positive influences on his life.....Having said that, I agree whole heartedly with your reservation about the religious context and policy on homosexuality. I have reluctant respect for the organization, and zero respect for the policy. Supporting civic-mindedness while quietly encouraging bigotry is lot like talking out of both sides of your mouth.

QT said...

Ok, holding hands, singing, people I don't know. Dude, did you get a badge for that???

Anonymous said...

Your last line said it all for me. Great post! :)

lu said...

Some of the best times of my childhood were Girl Scout events. When my boys wanted to join Boy Scouts I had the same reservations but I let them go anyway. After too meetings we found in this troupe all of our fears were confirmed- it was not an atmosphere that embraced diversity. I know it depends on the leader of each troupe, but we were too put off to do any looking around.

Anonymous said...

I have mixed feelings as well about scouts. I was in girl scouts and it was very important to me, until it became a popularity thing and then I didn't make the cut (competing troops). Just to further mess me up all of my kids are in scouting. My son isn't much into sports so scouting has been good physically (his troop is preparing for a trip to the Grand Canyon!) and they do a lot camping and hiking with full packs as well as a lot of civic projects. It's been a great source of pride for him to have a thing that he can do well. I keep an eye on the gay and religious issues though in our troops here those seem to be non issues entirely. (Utah was a different story-all of the troops were sponsored by the local wards-churches-and all of the meetings began and ended with prayers-aarrrgggghhh!)

What really bugs me now though is the endless hawking of products to sell. While I love girl scout cookies as much as the next person, selling them and the other items is something that really bothers me on so many levels.

But I let the kids participate and also let them know when and why some of the activities are things that our family doesn't agree with or support.

Tracy (blogger won't accept me today-how rude)

thailandchani said...

I agree with much of what has already been said. There is value in some parts of it but probably not enough to make it "okay" in my book. I really wish there was something similar for kids that would teach survival skills w/o the cultural brainwashing. Maybe one that actually supports critical thinking.

Oh, geeze! I'm still dreaming! I'd better make some coffee. LOL



Anonymous said...

I was in Girl Scouts. Back then, "gay" still meant happy, carefree. I did not even know the Boy Scouts had a thing about it. But if boys can get the positive stuff out of it, I think Scouts is probably not a bad thing. Except for the ceremonies. Hand-holding, singing and cake should not go beyond kindergarten. ;-) (I get cringy with that stuff, too.)

meno said...

biodtl, i think the fact that you have argued, even in a friendly way, about the problems you see with the scouts is part of what it will take to eventually create changes. Good for you.

u-u, i'll bet she looks cute in her uniform. You aren't old, you are a mom. (Of course that will age you faster than anything huh?)

patches, as usual, you have stated the whole thing very well.

qt, i should have, that's for sure.

platypus, thank you! I think someday they will too.

lu, it does depend on the leader. My other brother was talking about it last night, and they had a boy in their troop that had two dads. But that still doesn't excuse the institutional bigotry.

tracy, man when you decide to comment, you don't mess around! I used to go door to door all by myself selling GS cookies. Can you imagine letting your kids do that today? I agree about the sales thing. I hate it.

chani, there really is value, but at what cost? I am not dead set against scouting, but i do have issues with it. Hope the coffee helps. :)

Lucia said...

Scouting scares me...the gay thing, the god thing, the military thing.

Bob said...

I was in the scouts for a while. We didn't do anything religious, nor did anything about homosexuality. (of course, back then it wasn't on a 11 year-old's horizon.)

My son was in cub scouts for a while. The pack leader was a friend of mine and although the pack was sponsered by a church, and we met in a church basement, there wasn't any religious content to the lessons they were taught.

Despite that, I do have issues with their anti-gay and pro-religious policies. But as others have said, there is good there and much depends on the pack leaders and what emphasis (or lack thereof) they place on these topics.

All I can really say is that parents should get involved with the pack council, go to some meetings with their kids and learn what the pack is about - and make a decision for themselves.

Mother of Invention said...

I loved Brownies but I'm a joiner type. I loved the songs crafts and badges! My husband, a loner,(epitome of the loneliness of the long distance runner...skier etc.!) does not like the group thing so he quit cubs after 6 months. Don't ask me why, but his mom had kept his little uniform and gave it to me recently. He said he didn't want it. Maybe it meant something to her! It was kinda cute.

Liv said...

"Maybe the two of them will grow into the kind of people that they promised that they already were."

I hope that some of the stuff that they promised they were is at least germinating. Some days I wish I was as half as calm as my yoga 'babies' think I am. And lots of days I pray that my 'faux' exterior is the person who I too will grow into.

Anonymous said...

One of my brothers made it to Eagle. But then got married and had only daughters, so he's not involved any more. My other brother did not make Eagle scout, but even though he lives 40 minutes away, still comes to teach the kids their badges and goes to camp whenever he can. When they were in the troop, my dad would take them on the 20 mile hikes and canoe trips. My sister was SO jealous that GS were lame in comparison. When I met my husband, it was a shock to me that he really hated the troop that my family was so involved in and had dropped out of scouting the year his troop got incorported into it. But, as I am finding with my own clubs, most times its the people and how you hit if off with individuals more than it is the organization that makes for a successful experience.

Anonymous said...

Add this to one more reason why I'm glad to be Canadian. Not only does Scouts Canada have no policy on gays and lesbians (federal law wouldn't allow it anyway), there's a Gay and Lesbian Rover Crew in Toronto. Heck the organization is officially co-ed as well.

I was in Scouts in the late 70's and early 80's and loved. My eldest son's in his second year of Cubs and the organization here is great. The only time a prayer comes up is a grace before meals at camps.

Anonymous said...

I found the proper portion of the Scouts Canada By-Law, Policies and Procedures document:

"Section 1000.3 -- In keeping with our fundamental principles – Duty to God, Duty to Others, Duty to Self – Scouts Canada is committed to social justice including the promotion of gender and member diversity at all levels of the organization, both in its structures and programs and to the elimination of discrimination on the groups of race, gender, ethnicity, financial ability, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age.

It is imperative that all programs and services reflect Scouts Canada’s commitment to social justice.

Scouts Canada will make every effort to make its members and employee work force representative and reflective of the communities in which its services are provided."

karmic said...

I barely remember my boy scout days. :-/
I do have a problem with some of the stances that the organization takes.

Anonymous said...

I have trouble with the Scouts for the same reasons you cite, but I also agree with you that there is some good that can come out of it. I would TOTALLY defect to Canada, though - bravo to them for standing up and doing the right thing.

I pathologically avoid any situation where standing in a circle, holding hands and singing is required...

Mona Buonanotte said...

I don't agree with the things the Scouts think are okay, but I do agree with the cake part.

Sounds like you handled it well. Me? I would have snorted.

Dick said...

I think it is a good program overall and I guess they have a right to set the standards that they want. As long as they are fairly clear up front about them. Some might question them getting tax preferences but there are many special interest groups that get tax preferences that I don't agree with, including many corporations.

Bobealia... said...

I didn't even know there was a God and anti-gay and holding hands part to being a Scout.

egan said...

Meno, those are the exact same things that bother me about Boy Scouts. It's really too bad though because I think it's a great opportunity for boys to gain confidence.

Let's start our own version sans religion and the negative slant on homosexuals. You game?

meno said...

lucia, It is a quasi-military organization. But i did learn some cool things. For instance i can make a candle holder out of a dried artichole and some gold spray paint. :)

bob, that's good advice. I guess if enough people have a problem with their policies then maybe it will change.

MOI, i liked it up until my mother became the leader. I know she was trying to do some good, but i remember being criticized for having dirty gloves and stuff like that.

liv, i am still working on growing up to be the kind of person that i want to be too!

de, the outdoor part of scouting is very cool. We did some outdoor stuff, but nothing as cool as a 20 mile hike.

gordo, i love Canadians! Thanks for the information.

sanjay, you must have quit fairly early. I have lots of memories from scouting. When i was an explorer scout was the most fun. Boys and girls in the same troop. Whee.

mrs.chili, it was tough to get through the hand holding, and then they started swaying. Yikes.

mona, it was a near thing for me, but i know how seriously they take this stuff.

dick, i think it's a good overall program too, i just disagree with some of it, and thus haven't become involved as an adult. You are right about the special interest groups.

bo, there has been much on the news in the last several years about kids who were atheists not being allowed to participate. As well as news about their anti-gay stance. The hand holding isn't a policy thing though. :)

egan, Sure! What'll we call it? Can we ban stupid songs too?

egan said...

How about SuperTroopers? Yes, I can't sing so I wouldn't want any of them to feel obligated to do so.

thailandchani said...

#2. Right on! :)