Camping, Scouts, and… Stuff

I had the distinct pleasure of going to Webelos Camp with Jacob last week. We left Wednesday morning and came back Saturday morning. The camp was located in beautiful Pottsboro, Texas, right on the shore of Lake Texoma or somesuch (no, I didn’t really check. They just told us that 42 feet out into the water was Oklahoma territory).

I felt bad in terms of preparing Jacob for the trip. One of the courses to take is Aquanauts, and for that, you have to pass a swim test. Jacob doesn’t know how to swim, so he was classified a non-swimmer. That meant he couldn’t go deeper than 3 feet of water in the pool without a life vest. Parent failure #1.

However, he and his friend Greyson camped together. Some other parents shared a tent with their kids, but in two years, he’s supposed to go camping on his own. Hopefully by then we’ll have worked out the “keeping yourself clean” issues. He wore his swimsuit under his shorts and didn’t change out of them the entire camp. I don’t think that’s normal, but then again, I only made it to Bears.

I got the chance to talk to other scout leaders about the entire Homosexuality issue. For those of you who haven’t paid attention to the news, the scouts decided that they will no longer discriminate against sexual orientation in their members. They still don’t allow LGBT leaders, but as far as acceptance goes, this is a pretty good start.

Personally, I’m in favor of the change, primarily because for younger scouts (namely Jacob’s age and younger), sex isn’t an issue. Girls still have cooties. However, I can see it start to come into play around the time that kids become boy scouts.

Naturally, the decision is going to come with a cost–the Southern Baptists have decided to not recharter any scouts sponsored by one of their churches, and that is expected to cost the scouts somewhere in the area of $40 million. If they can keep going without that, so much the better. However…

The one question that I’d never really considered until talking with other leaders was “when you go camping with a gay scout, where do you put them?”

This sounds like an innocent question, but the ramifications are:
(a) two gay scouts sharing a tent
(b) a gay scout with a straight scout
(c) virtual ostracism of the gay scout by being alone in a tent

I think the one thing about these choices that makes me upset is that they make the fundamental assumption that a gay scout will be a sexual deviant toward other scouts. And frankly, I don’t think that’s a fair assumption to make. We don’t consider “straight” scouts to be any more or less deviant. And we still have issues of leaders (straight leaders, mind you) who are predators.

I’m not gay. I can’t walk in those shoes and understand what the attraction is. However, if we are to allow homosexuality in scouts, we have to confront that underlying assumption and work to change it. And the only people who can help us do that are the gay scouts themselves by their behavior and conduct. I truly believe any incident will lead to immediate pressure to reverse the decision, even as we ignore the previous molestation cases by (again, straight) leaders.

In the end, I guess it will work out. We’ll just have to see.

3 replies on “Camping, Scouts, and… Stuff”

  1. Well, a REALLY good way to address this issue would be to allow gay scout leaders who could mentor BOTH straight and gay scouts in the right way to handle issues potentially brought on by same sex attraction. Who would have experience with the situation from having been scouts themselves! But that’s too radical an idea I guess.

    Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that a kid can be a scout, get his Eagle, and then not be allowed to serve the scouting organization should he be a gay adult. It’s ludicrous and is a policy clearly put in place by a straight leadership with not just no knowledge of, but genuine fear of homosexuality as sexual deviancy. And yeah, as you point out, pedophilia is NOT the same and shouldn’t be equated with homosexuality yet too often is.

    And then there’s the issue of religious discrimination in scouting!

    Which is why my son is not in Boy Scouts, but my daughter is in Girl Scouts, and I’m an active leader in the latter organization!

  2. Oof. That’s a big can of worms with the gay scout thing. I’m not a scout nor a scout leader. I’m not gay or a boy. Any issues concerning adult with child in any sexual way is pedophilia. It has nothing to do with sexuality, hetero or homo. It should also be condemned by anyone trusting their children to an organization. Blaming one subset of people is really great but doesn’t address the problem because we often want to see what we want to hate. I don’t know that isolating a “gay” child is the way to go. I don’t have kids but it seems like kids pick up the vibes from their parents much like dogs do. And often, with greater consequences that influence their lives through adulthood. You make a kid feel uncomfortable. You separate him (or her) and you dehumanize and objectify him (or her) and pick the word gay to do it. It will stick with them forever. The consequences are not just for the gay Scout but everyone that surrounds him (or her). Just please, advocate treating them like children. Leave their innocence be.

  3. Well, the one religion they discriminate against is… none. So, yeah.

    I agree with you on the scout leader point, but this was a really difficult step for the scouts to take, and they can only swallow so much progress at once.

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