I have two children that are coming up on scouting age, a 7 year old girl and a 5-1/2 year old boy. I’d like to get them involved but I just can’t get committed to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) because of it’s discriminatory policies and the Girls Scouts appear to have become an unfocused, watered down version of it’s previous self. We tried a starting SpiralScouts circle but that organization has such an internal pissing contest going on with the founder that we decide to abandon it.  I’ve been looking at the other alternatives out there. I am looking for a secular organization that still teaches the basics of outdoor skills like the BSA of old without the politics and BS policies attached.

  • Camp Fire USA – Not available in our area currently so I’d have to start a council.
  • Adventure Guides & Princesses – Looks promising but is owned and overseen by a christian organization.
  • Earth Scouts – While I agree with the charter of this organization it is not apparent that they teach the skills I want my children to learn. They also appear to be fairly political in nature since they are part of the Earth Charter US.
  • Scouting for All – While started as an inclusive alternative to the BSA its activities make it overtly political.


I’m taking a more serious look at:

Over the past several years I have seriously considered starting up a some type of traditional scouting organization that is more focused on bushcraft and woodlore skills. The primary reason for this consideration has always been the lack of an existing local group that fits in with what I feel scouts should be.  If I am going to have to start a local group for another scouting organization why not start one of my own? I know I won’t have the support of the larger organization but based on my past experience (Spiral Scouts) they seriously complicate matters.

6 thoughts on “Scouting

  1. I guess I am lucky that I have been blessed with all girls. 
    I am an Eagle Scout; however, I have long contemplated sending the physical award back to them and denounce my relationship with the organization because of thier discriminatory practices.  As an educator in the public sector, I have come to understand first hand the struggles of those who society deems as "different." 
    And while this is not the forum for such debate, I do understand your struggles.
    When my oldest daughter (now 11.5) was old enough for girl scouts, my wife started a troop.  I am a certified leader, so I am able to attend camp-outs and other events.  This helps with the kids learning some of the key outdoor skills that used to be included in the scouting, and I have the opportunity to participate in what they learn and first hand practices.
    Luckily, I have no boys; othewise, my situation would be much more muddled.

  2. I understand your situation completely; I have a boy 10 and a girl 13. nbsp;Boy scouts were out for various reasons; my girl is in girl scouts and to say it is watered down in a big understatement. nbsp;I#039;m sure it depends somewhat on the troop but for us it has been a big joke. nbsp;On top of that the girls sell the cookies to raise money (required by girl scouts before doing any other fund raisers) and the troop gets only 60 cents on a $4 box of cookies!! Some child labor abuse going on in my view.
    If you can get a small group of like minded people, starting your own local group is the way to go.

  3. I joined the scouts in the early ’80’s after seeing my Dad’s manual from 1957. Boy was I disappointed. All I took away from the experience was a deep seated loathing of the organization. Now I work in natural resources and each experince I have makes me more and more disgruntled. I have been tempted to start my one scout type group based on the skills shown in the old manuals, but I just don’t have the time with two little girls (4 years old & 2 years old). I look forward to hearing how this turns out for you, I’ll be in the same boat in a few years.

  4. I am an Eagle Scout and third generation Boy Scout. Even as a fraternity brother I can easily say that Boy Scouting has affected me more than any other organization. The love of the outdoors I learned through backpacking trips are just one aspect – I learned a myriad of skills and interests through merit badges, leadership of peers, and service to my community (not just a love of it, but how to do it). 

    That being said, I know how political the organization can be. My dad (and Scoutmaster) certainly agreed with the discriminatory principles, but as I have grown up I have realized how absurd they can be. Luckily, being a Boy Scout does not force you under the politics. Indeed, our troop didn't even participate in Boy Scouting as a whole. We never went to jamborees or summer camps – we were a group of guys united in our love of our Scouting purpose.
    Boy Scouting brings way more than outdoor skills and their system and organization allows young guys to really grow up. You may not agree with the politics, but I would advise you (and anyone) to give Scouting a try. It'll change your life. 

  5. BP Scouts in the UK are really good. The reason for the split was basically in the seventies they wanted to re-write Scouting For Boys. BP scouts in the UK still wear the original uniform, and also have girls though all branches.

    One of the things that gets me is the way they re-write history. BP did not start scouts, the kids did. The camp at Brownsea island was to see if the book made sense, a book that was actually written for the boys brigade, it got published because of who BP was.

    My number one survival/bushcraft read is Scouting For Boys. Keep in mind you need the original, the 1908 version. Once you get past some of the language, it is an amazing read for now and especially its time.

    There is no reason why you cannot start your own group because that is how it started originally. All you need is the book, that is how scouts started.

    The big problem for me is the way a lot of so called scout groups have become good little soldier creators, the point was to create special forces. The point was to create people who think for themselves, and lead the way.

  6. Hello, as a longtime scout leader and the proud father of two eagle scouts, I read your comments on scouting with great interest.  While I completely agree with your assesment of girl scouts, I would like to know what component of BSA you have found discriminatory?
    I also have my father's old BSA manuals….from the 1940's, and I must say that our troop still teaches those skills, and that as a result my two sons are two of the most accomplished woodsmen that I know.
    You don't have to be a christian to be a scout, there is one in our troop, as well as some with no conviction whatsoever on either side of the issue.
    An issue that Brian put in his post… I am a public school teacher and a Special Educator at that and work with "different" kids every day.  We have had, and do currently have "different" kids in the troop….and there is no issue with it.; some of them earning their Eagle, just like anyone else.
    You might think about visiting a few different troops before you write off the whole program.  Please do not misunderstand me, I am not painting a rosy picture of the BSA, I have my own disagreements with it as well.  However, that said I would not trade the adventures that I have had with my sons for anything.
    Christopher Mccain 

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