Former Eagle Scout Mike Rowe responds to a woman who expressed dismay about the Boy Scouts going “co-ed.” He posted:
As I read it, The Boy Scouts are launching a separate program that serves girls. …
When I left the organization in 1979, there were 5 million active members. Today, there are 2.3 million. With the recent departure of the Mormon community, that number will soon drop to under two million. Clearly, something is wrong. The question is what? Is it the past sexual scandals? Is it the more recent admission of gay and transgender members? I would imagine those are factors. But a 60% decline? That seems very unlikely. …
[R]ight now, there’s a perception that The Boy Scouts have gone soft. That’s the real tragedy, Sharon, because I can’t think of anything more needed in our country today, than a youth organization that offers kids the same experience I underwent in the basement of Kenwood Church [read the full post]. Why? Because our country’s current obsession with “safe spaces” is destroying character faster than the Boy Scouts of today can build it.
Obviously, we want our kids protected from the hazards of a dangerous world. … But safety is not the purpose of our existence, and this whole idea that kids need to be protected from fear, distress, discomfort, and disappointment is far more dangerous to the future of our country than anything I ever encountered in Scouting. You can’t build character in a “safe space.” You can only build dependence and entitlement, and you don’t have to look very far to see the results. Pardon my rant, but the stakes are high. …
We are the ones who gave them trophies just for showing up. We’re the ones who told them that their feelings were more important than their actions…. Now, we are confronted with millions of dissatisfied young adults with no tolerance for beliefs that conflict with their own, and no realistic understanding of how life actually works. …
It’s not enough to simply ignore bad ideas. The safe space movement needs to be confronted, and I’d love nothing more than to see Scouts of both genders lead the charge.
More. Some of the comments from Mike Rowe’s original Facebook post support his description of what’s happened to scouting:
- I grew up in a troop very much like Mike Rowe’s. But now a Boy Scout can’t build and climb a pioneering project more than six feet off the ground without their plans being reviewed in advance by the “council enterprise risk management committee” (aka lawyers). So you know the BSA has gone soft. s/A former Scoutmaster, District Commissioner, etc.
- If these kids are anything like my son, the reason the numbers are declining are due to what is being taught. My son joined with the idea that he would learn outdoor activities, responsibilities, camping, archery, and so forth but in reality the whole year he only learned songs, skits, and chants. He was very bored and lost interest.
- Same issue with Girl Scouts for my daughters. Two different troops in two different years and not one camping trip or outdoor activity. When I was a young Girl Scout, we learned fire building and first aid. Lots of the same things the boys in Boy Scouts were learning. Now it’s lazy indoor arts and crafts and peddling as many cookies as possible.
- That was my daughter’s Girl Scout experience as well. Not one thing at all done outdoors in the entire year she was in the troop. Two times a month they met in the school cafeteria after school for an hour to glue beads together or color. … It was such a waste of time and I felt nostalgia for my days as a cub scout in the 1970’s when we met once a week and did all kinds of projects, explored the great outdoors, learned to work together as a team and were all proud to wear our scout uniforms all day at school on the meeting days. Especially when we did the pledge of allegiance in the morning before class started. All these things are now relics of a by gone era it would seems.
- I was shocked when I became a Boy Scout day camp counselor…and they kept canceling camp because the temperatures outside were too high (in the 80s) for the poor little air-conditioned flowers. … This generation of overly dramatic parents has killed Scouting and all it stood for, which is a damned shame. People just can’t stand to be uncomfortable any more, and will give up anything to avoid it.
But others indicate a wide variety among troops and their activities:
- We run a Cub Scout Pack and do tons of science experiments, games, whittling, knot tying, and during the summer we hike and bike. I am so sad your son had a bad experience!
- The troop I am a part of has campouts where shooting shotguns and learning about gun safety is the main activity. Our numbers have grown steadily over the past four years because we still believe in what the scouts’ core values are.
- By the time my son was 12, he had canoed two 50 milers (led two boats down the 2nd time), rowed his own boat, learned to rebuild a boat engine, been hiking up the tallest mountain in SoCal, camped 100 nights, and was preparing for jamboree. Don’t give up!
- Our Boy Scouts do activities several times a month. They include camping, hiking, mountaineering, fishing, flying airplanes, skiing, whitewater rafting, canoe trips, horseback riding and still volunteer a lot in the community. All thanks go to the great and tireless efforts of the Troop’s leadership and parents.