Those of you that are close to us know how much we enjoyed Cub scouts as a family. Our boys could sell the heck out of some popcorn, too! Two years ago we registered Jackson as a Tiger Cub thinking this would be the perfect outlet for him. Our aspie would learn how to work with members of a team without feeling the heavy weight of competition. In most instances, the only person he would compete with was himself. After all, the cub scout motto is "do your best". He would also have the opportunity to form deeper bonds and hopefully lifelong friendships with his denmates without the pressure and stimulation of a crowded room (except maybe for the occasional Pack meeting ;)). Given that our charter was with the local First Baptist Church, we surmised that he would have good, male Christian role models (in addition to his father, of course) to guide and protect him. And he did.
Somehow, a few weeks into the program I found myself in the role of den leader. In a perfect world, my husband would be the parental counterpart for scouts but as circumstances would have it, our meetings were Tuesday evenings, the only night of the week Justin has to work. So, I just went with it. :) We played, we camped, we did experiments, we "saw" things, we "derbied". We probably had the smallest den of our entire pack, consisting of only four boys, but we were a close-knit group and that included siblings. My other two children were always in tow and other families' were as well. My daughter, who was only 4 at the time, was convinced she was also a tiger. It was hard work and I'm confident I always looked frazzled but it was so worth it.
Not only did my son form friendships, so did we. That first year I became friends with another Tiger den leader initially because we were both new to this "leader business" and I certainly didn't have a clue what to do and welcomed all the support I could find. It wasn't until later that we realized we both had daughters the same age and they got along like peas and carrots. Our second year we met a family who also have children with autism and were instant friends. They were den leaders for the first time that year so we shared that mutual understanding not only from the autism standpoint, but the challenges that come with leadership as well.
Yes, I was quite the advocate until the recent membership policy change. For those who don't know, in May of 2013 BSA's National Council voted to change their membership policy to include practicing homosexuals. Before anyone gets all bent out of shape and starts calling me a "homophobe", let me set the record straight. This is not an issue of "equality". The Council didn't vote to include boys who are struggling with homosexuality. In fact, the existing policy already did that. No, this is an issue of morality. This policy now, essentially, states that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being actively gay...as a scout.
As a leader, you're still out of luck...for now. That will change, though. Mark my words. I don't know how BSA can possibly defend a position that says scouts can be gay but leaders can't. I'll be the first to say that is blatantly inconsistent and hypocritical and you can rest assured that LGBT advocates will be (and already have been) all but happy to point that out. According to BSA's own survey, 61% of members opposed this change, yet they made it anyway. Seventy percent of charters were held by churches. I'd be interested in knowing what that figure is at the end of this year. As for our Pack, another church picked up the charter when First Baptist dropped it earlier this year. Kudos to First Baptist for having the fortitude to do it. It certainly wasn't the "PC" thing to do and they did catch flak for it.
After the vote, I felt very disillusioned. Boy Scouts of America no longer resembled the scouts I remember from my youth...not that I was ever a scout, obviously, but my brother was at one time and I had several well-respected friends who grew up scouting. I was looking forward to helping my boys earn lots of belt loops over the summer and the verdict just deflated my enthusiasm for that until it was almost non-existent. Our family was left asking, "Now what?" or to put it another way, "Do we stay or do we go?"
Really, the decision was an obvious one- just painful to execute. At first I was angry to have been put in such a position. My youngest boy was only 6 and I wasn't planning to have a conversation at that tender age about the definition of sexual orientation! When he asked why we weren't doing scouts this year, what would we say? Because I said so? Well, that doesn't sound very fair. And what about the friendships we had all formed? Not just our dens' but our pack as a whole was fairly tight.
Well, he did ask. We were honest without going into lots of detail. I think we said something like, "Cub scouts is going in a different direction than what we think God wants us to go." Since we took up homeschooling this year too, and that change brought us 4-H, we were able to add an alternative. Now, don't get me wrong. We love 4-H and the kids really like Horse Club...but 4-H is not scouts. It's just a much different atmosphere.
Naturally, we were super excited when we learned that a TrailLife Troop was forming in our town! Now we really do have an alternative! :D To add to that excitement was the knowledge that many of the boys joining were former den and pack friends as well. But that's a post for another day. Today's post is about saying goodbye.
BSA, I fear you have made a fatal mistake. Even if your organization survives (and I tend to think it will, actually), it will never be what it once was. It is fundamentally forever changed...for worse, in my opinion. You can still do good, of course, and help mold boys into men of good citizenship and strong civil service. But you've given away a piece of your soul and in so doing have turned your back on your Christian roots and by extension God Himself. You may continue to exist but will cease to breathe real Life into these young boys. That sounds harsh, I know. Truly, I mourn for you. I loved BSA. But this change we cannot abide and apparently, many other families feel the same way we do.
See what happens when an organization that families love abandons what they really loved about it? They leave. Then, those families start their own organization and bring it right back to the heart of the matter. Please don't think we left the scouts to join TrailLife. This wasn't a "stick it to BSA" move.
No, the truth is this was a "stick with God" move.
We just left. Then, the Lord supplied His own alternative.
And no matter what any person or organization does or doesn't do, the Lord will always have the final word.
With a tear in my eye and a burning hope in my heart, my final word (for this post anyway ;)): Bye-Bye, BSA!
- I'm a mother of 3 who started blogging as a way to share our many adventures and to expand beyond the everyday "mommy world". While there IS so much more to us mommies than the title, there is very little that doesn't in some way or another lead us back to or influence our children...if anything. So, I hope you enjoy following our family's randomness, because as all moms know- you can never anticipate what tomorrow will bring! Thanks for visiting and have a blessed day! :)