it’s called the BOY Scouts…

… or why I won’t be a den leader.

Our little Scout pack is finally starting to take off and we are getting new boys at every meeting. Some of the father’s who are den leaders now are moving up with their sons when they cross over to Boy Scouts next year. That leaves a few dens without leaders for next year. On several occasions I have been asked to fill in one of these spots. Each time I decline for the same reason… it’s the BOY Scouts.

I finally had to explain… my son is surrounded by women every day of his life. He is raised by one and all his teachers are female. His weekly scouting activities and camping trips are the only time he gets to be with boys, solely boys. How the hell is he supposed to learn to be a man surrounded by women? I can’t teach him to be a man, I am not one.

Of course when I voiced this concern another mother was quick to go on the defensive. I told her if she volunteered for my son’s den next year we would find another pack. I feel like Scouts is his only sanctuary where he can revel in his boyness.

It’s like that quote from Fight Club, “We’re a generation of men raised by women. I’m wondering if another woman is really the answer we need.”


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  • This is a SUCH an important post… I may actually post about something meaningful on my blog, all because of you KAT!

  • doughboy

    good for you. finally someone is saying what needs to be said. not very politically correct of you, but certainly courageous and truthful. masculinity must be learned, it must be taught, it must be acquired. a boy acquires his masculinity by learning it from his father and same-sex peer group. the boy's father doens't have to teach masculinity by teaching him to throw football passes or how to shoot a gun; just a shared delight in an activity suffices. spending time with one another, interacting, receiving affirmation from the elder male is so important.

  • I'm an Eagle Scout and for most of my youth my Scout leaders were my only male influence.As I've grown older (38 now) I often catch myself realizing that I something because Mr. [insert Scout leader's name) did that or mentioned something once.I'm continually surprised how much I learned just from being around those men rubbed off on me.While I've never thought about it I have to agree with what you say. Those men were so important in my life. I don't know where they all are now, but I just want to say thank you to:Don Vick, Greg Bucher, Mr. Harmon, Steve Fulwood, Larry Rosamond, Gary Johnson, David Mott, and anyone else I'm missing.Thanks for the Post Kat!!

  • As a former Cub Scout and Boy Scout, absolutely!

  • This Eagle Scout says HELL YES. Good for you!

  • I homeschool my 3 girls and 1 boy- my girls will be in Scouts OVER MY DEAD BODY, but I am looking forward to the day my boy is old enough for Scouts- luckily, he has a great dad, but more solid male influences will be good for his development

  • TCN

    This is so true. My husband is a man's man. When my nephew comes out to visit, it takes about one day before he figures this out. His dad is a worthless piece of fluff who can't even be bothered to show up for major life events. Generally, my nephew behaves like his dad, but not when he's out here. None of the women in the family can help him, but my husband? Home run.

  • I am an Eagle Scout, a brotherhood member of the Order of the Arrow, and am currently an Assistant District Commissioner. Most of my work is with other adults in Scouting. Quitting a pack is not an escape from female volunteers. They're probably with the pack down the road as well.The role of "Den Mother" was with Cub Scouting from the very beginning (since 1930 in the USA). Until the late 1960s it was the only adult volunteer role in the BSA available to women. The inclusion of men (which necessitated the change of title to "Den Leader") is only a recent phenomenon.It should be noted that, historically, Cub Scouting was not intended to be a miniature version of Boy Scouting. Indeed, at least in the United States, great pains were taken to ensure a distinction between the two. Where the Boy Scouts emphasized outdoor activity, Cub Scouts emphasized neighborhood fellowship. Cubbing has always included female role models.(I should add that, also in recent years, outdoor activities such has hiking and camping have been introduced to Cubbing, particularly among older Cubs.)Once your son crosses over into Boy Scouting (and I hope that he does), he will have more exposure to men in leadership positions, even though they are increasingly being taken by women. This is in part because of absentee fathers, but also because of legal challenges which the BSA has not always won. The last holdout was to allow women in every position except that of the unit leader (Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, etc), but that was lost as well.Interestingly, there is revolt in some parts of the BSA membership because girls are not included, except in Venturing (the high school and college age program). In fact, in many countries, "Boy" Scouting includes girls in all age groups. The BSA is one of the few holdouts.

  • I whole-heartedly agree with your reasoning in this, and applaud you for it. But, what David said: cub scouts traditionally had Den Mothers. But given your son's circumstances and the times we live in, I like your stand on this.

  • To Priest's Wife there is a Christian alternative to Girl Scouts and it is endorsed by Boy Scouts of America-American Heritage Girls agree with you Crescat!

  • To Priest's wife–I am sorry that you have a negative experience with the Girl Scouts..I was in Brownies and Girl Scouts up until High School where my dad made me decide whether I coudl be in Marching Band or Girl Scouts..(only one after school activity allowed in my house as that affected homeworks and school grades).Scouting was some of the best times of my was an outlet for creativity, leadership, teamwork, and camping/outdoor activities that my own family had no interest in. In fact–I credit it for developing my interest in engineering in third Brownies we were to march in the local Christmas parade to a tape of "the Little Drummer Boy", and we had to create drums…..I made mine out of a fried chicken bucket with a string that went around my neck so that the drum hung down in front…really easy to play. My Scout leader was amazed and entered it in a local competition. My Scout leaders always encouraged me to keep on trying even when I burned my first batch of cupcakes 🙂 I still remember one of my favorite crafting ideas was making shrinky dinks. And I learned to love camping to this day..Scouting was where I learned how to cook over a campfire, make smores and cowboy breakfast….good life skills.Sara

  • As a girl who participated in Exploring/Venturing, I have to say having postive male role models was of immense value. Because girls suffer from absentee fathers as well..and will pick up any man to make up for it. But in Venturing, through the adult leadership, I learned what a mature, responsible male looked like.But I do agree that boys need a place to be boys.

  • My boys have had a mixture of moms and dads when it came to Cub Scouts. Part of it has to do with the nature of Cub Scouting lending itself more towards a mother in a leadership role. My husband is all for the outdoor stuff, so the first years of Cub Scouting rubbed him the wrong way. Too much artsy, crafty stuff for him. But, he's always done the outdoor things with the boys. I'm the flip opposite…I will gladly do the creative stuff and let someone else go roughing it.Our eldest is in Boy Scouts now and the Troop has a female Scoutmaster. When it was announced, he went ballistic saying it was supposed to be just dads in the role of Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster. That might be the ideal (at least for us it is), but for this particular Troop not a single dad was willing to take on the role. The Troop was suffering from having no Scoutmaster for over a year and losing kids left and right. This particular mom only agreed to do it for a year and is hoping that one of the dads will finally step up. Things improved quite a bit once the dust settled and the boys are again advancing in rank and earning merit badges instead of just playing football.If my sons only had women for role models, I would definitley be seeking a den with a dad in the lead. I've seen some boys growing up with no real male role model or influence and there's a definite need waiting to be filled in their lives.

  • My husband is an eagle scout and we intend for our boys to be in scouts when they are old enough. Agree with you on male leadership and its importance.Another program that is only in a few cities but hopefully will grow over the years (probably not until your son is too old for it) is FRATERNUS. It's a Catholic formation program for boys. It was started by someone I knew in college.

  • James

    This reminds me of a bit if dialogue from a favorite novel:"She was teaching me about what it means to be a woman."To which the young man replied, "No one teaches us how to be men. We just are.""Perhaps," said the young woman, "that is why you make such a bad job of it."

  • I agree with Kat, and also have something to say about women having to do everything.It's very sad when men do not step up to the plate, and women are forced to take over, and then are found at fault for being women.In some cases, you can do without. For example, the world will not fall apart if there are no altar servers at all, no boys volunteering, and no girls with encouraged to do it (where this actually happens). However, kids themselves are ripped off if nobody volunteers to be a Scoutmaster, coach, etc. The great challenges are how to convince men to take on male responsibilities and how to convince women that sometimes you really do need a man (and not another women) for something. I've heard a Single mother say that fathers aren't really necessary, and I was shocked silent. I am haunted by the idea that men will not volunteer to do those things women claim they can do just as well (e.g. serve at the altar, father children).

  • Sorry for my usual, characteristic errors in combox grammar.

  • Cub Scouts have always had den mothers. But Boy Scout leaders should be boys. My son was in Boy Scouts for several years and really liked it until we combined with another troop. That one was led by a woman who (I don't mean to be offensive) is overweight, has serious health problems, and pretty much had the boys sit and do activities at tables. She is a really nice woman but not what you think of as a Boy Scout leader! He quit after a couple of months.Now to be fair some fathers did join in the troop and lead activities — campouts, etc. But she was still the leader. I think boys need male leaders and I would think that if a woman had to step in to lead a troop to keep it going, her first order of business would be finding men to take over.

  • As a former Scout and current Den Leader, I must concur with Mr. Alexander. Even so, as a young boy I found Cub Scouts boring. I absolutely loved Boy Scouts, however.James – Eye of the World

  • This post is so right. America is suffering, because so many adult men had few (or no) strong men in their lives to *teach* and *model* healthy manhood. Of course, this doesn't excuse bad behavior, on the part of men who didn't have those models. However, the simple truth is that boys need men to become men. It's *possible* to become a healthy man without early, good male role models in one's life– but it's not easy (to say the least).

  • And this is why I don't let my GIRLS serve as Altar Boys.God Bless you Kat!

  • Excellent post Kat, and excellent parenting on your part.It isn't easy, but doing the right thing by your son is essential.

  • Dre

    It's too bad Girl Scouts has gotten so weird. I'm 32 and I started in 4th grade and ended in my freshman year of high school. I earned my Gold Award (like the Eagle Award) When I was in GS was actually very safe morally. The woman that ran it were very devout Christians. Some where along the way it became a lesbian recruiting ground and started partnering with Planned Parenthood 🙁 I think it is still good if you are in a small town where the leaders are old school. I was raised by a single mother and GS helped fill in the gaps on some things.

  • I am on your side. The camaraderie is so very import to healthy development. If woman start crossing the boundries then this confuses the boys and this can lead to areas of concern. Not saying that it can cause them to become gay but it can't be helpful for normal development

  • I think you’re right. Women, even those of us who are not mothers, can’t stop mothering but if a boy can’t distance himself from that he’ll never be a father in the wide sense of one who can lead and take responsibility. You’ve probably read this but if you haven’t it’s worth a look The Feminisation of Christianity.

  • K

    Good for you, Kat. Stick to yer guns. Anyone who can't see that a boy with a single mom at home needs MORE boy-ness quality elsewhere is nutso … Anyhow, you go, girl 🙂

  • Ink

    I went through Girl Scouts for a while… morally, it was pretty safe since we were closely tied to the church/parish who hosted our meetings. Activity-wise, however, it became one early-morning community-service project after another, not many camping trips (and if we DID have any, it was a drag to convince my dad to go) and not many actual useful things. I taught myself how to tie a large number of knots and use my dad's pocketknife. The most practical knowledge I got out of Girl Scouts was fire safety (which I have proceeded to generally ignore, for the most part, but retain common sense… I mean, I don't always have the time to tie my hair back or to sprinkle-water-drown the fire. Just let it die, or soak it), how to combine soap-and-pantyhose into an outdoor soap dispenser, and that girls are awfully catty.

  • This is the most important post I have read this year. I am going to link to it.