General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Good or bad? The Boy Scouts organization is dying.

Asked by elbanditoroso (30571points) September 25th, 2019


On the one hand, they built character for millions upon millions of boys, me included.

On the other hand, molestation by male leaders was rampant. They actively discriminated against gay boys and men. The Mormons withdrew their support. And scouting doesn’t have the appeal that it used to.

Can the Boy Scouts survive? Does it deserve to?

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18 Answers

kritiper's avatar

Bad, It deserves to survive. Being a scout was one of my, if not the, most influential experiences.

chyna's avatar

Two hundred and fifty two countries were represented at the 2019 Boy Scout jamboree in West Virginia (my state) this summer. That was over 40,000 scouts, boy and girl. They all seemed to have a great time white water rafting, canoeing, ziplining and hundreds of activities. It seems to still be flourishing.

zenvelo's avatar

While it is going through difficult changes, some are definitely for the better. My son’s troop was always strong and had good leadership; it is now stringer with two full patrols of girls. Before he earned his Eagle rank, my son also participated in an expedition at Philmont Scout Ranch that included girls.

The molestations, while horrible, also occurred a while ago, before the Scouts introduced strict protocols to prohibit one boy being alone with one Adult leader at any time, unless it was his own parent.

Yellowdog's avatar

Agree or not, some causes to the Boy Scouts’ demise have been:

(1) The overwhelming majority of Scouts troops met in churches, including Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Mormon, and other conservative groups —all of whom denounced the organization’s changing stance on homosexuality;

(2) The pedophile incidents, and its perception.

(3) The inclusion of girls into the organization. It should be noted that the Girl Scouts are actually a liberal, progressive, wholesome organization that meets and challenges the needs of girls.

(4) Greater competition with school activities, band camp, sports.

I think the organization is going through a transition, but will recover for reasons mentioned above.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Good? Bad? Neither, just a fact of nature. Everything comes to its end eventually.

filmfann's avatar

I was a scout, and while I have mixed feelings about my experiences, I am very supportive of the organization.

jca2's avatar

I read the article, and this is cut and pasted from it:

As of last year, 2.18 million youth members were registered in the organization. More than 77,000 girls ages 5 through 10 have joined the Cub Scouts, and nearly 23,000 older girls have signed up for troops through the namesake program, now re-branded as Scouts BSA.

I don’t think the organization is fading from obscurity right now. They’re losing members but it’s not quite dead and gone yet.

KNOWITALL's avatar

I think everyone should be taught basic survival skills, so I say keep it. A lot of kids get self esteem, father figures, etc..from scouts.

Frankly I hated Girl Scouts, resented not being with the guys doing camp outs etc…

As far as the abuse, horrible humans are everywhere, the good seems to outweigh the bad imo.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I had great experiences with scouting. I learned things there that I use on a daily basis. The friends I kept through my life were all in scouting with me. The experience of it was almost completely dependent on the direct leadership and not the broader organization.

I think it will ebb and flow depending on how well the organization is able to adapt. The good scouting days are probably over though. Bad IMO.

LostInParadise's avatar

The book Bowling Alone talks about the decline in social interaction. Though it was published a while ago, its message still holds. The sad thing about the decline of the Boy Scouts is that there is nothing to pick up the slack.

ragingloli's avatar

It is a shame, really.
See, my Great-Grandfather was in the German equivalent. Learned a great many things.
Died, unfortunately, on a field trip to Normandy.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t think it’s dying off yet. Maybe some parts of the country are less active in the scouts than others. I wasn’t a Girl Scout, my mother didn’t want to bother with it, even though I had voiced a desire to join at one point. I know we are talking about Boy Scouts, now Scouts, rather than Girl Scouts, but I’m just talking about these sorts of organizations in general. My mom did Blue Birds (I think that was the name) for my sister. She made a lot more efforts with my sister, who was younger than me.

I think it’s good to learn some survival skills, and about nature, and I learned both in school and camp.

A friend of mine who is a scout leader I would not want having big influences over my kids I don’t think. He’s a good man, with a lot of practical knowledge, but his ideas regarding behavior or too strict for me, grounded in his religious beliefs I would assume, and his own rearing. I would not assume this about all troop leaders though, and I’m sure many parents feel he is in line with them.

Like anything nationwide, you have to evaluate it not only based on the general mission of the organization, but also at your local level. Is it a good fit for you.

As far as child abuse and pedophilia, this can happen anywhere, and most at risk are situations where men are able to be with a lot of children. Coaches, clergy, teachers, scout leaders, it’s true in all of these situations. Those positions are very attractive to men who want to sexually abuse children. It does not mean we should get rid of teachers, coaches, clergy and scout leaders, it means we need to be more vigilant in screening and more emphasis on not being alone. Safety in numbers.

I think the organization will continue, and overall I think it’s more positive than negative. It’s evolving somewhat to keep up with the times.

Demosthenes's avatar

The Scouts may be losing popularity, but I don’t think that means children in general are no longer participating in groups or social activities that are of a similar kind. The Scouts were not all that popular in my neck of the woods growing up (I never heard anything specific against them; it just seemed to be viewed as old-fashioned and kids were involved in other camps and activities). Nowadays kids in the Bay Area are probably going to coding camps as that seems to be all we value there. Preparing them to be future tech-bros. But I digress…

I would hope that if the Scouts decline, kids are still learning survival/outdoor skills. I think it’s especially important for kids to develop an appreciation for nature and the environment at a young age.

LuckyGuy's avatar

There were some good things about it when my kids were young. The parents took turns each covering a certain topic. Since all of the parents were technically minded we were able to teach the kids things we considered important.
I had them do an overnight in our orchard so they could learn about telescopes and see planets stars and galaxies. I told them about how we live on a planet going around the Sun which is one star in the Milky Way galaxy. See all those other stars? Every star you see is in our own galaxy. And they are the ones close to us – only a few thousand light years away. But, there are many other galaxies just as big as ours. Let’s look outside our galaxy for a moment and see our neighboring galaxy : Andromeda. See that smear over there? That’s it. It is 2.5 million light years away and it is about the same size as our galaxy. Imagine there are people standing on a planet going around a star in Andromeda and they looked in our direction What do you think we look like?
And so on.

We could also use scouting as an excuse to visit factories and facilities we adults wanted to see. We visited General Motors, Kodak, Fire Stations, the regional airport, ... lots of fun. We didn’t think Genesee Brewery was appropriate. :-)

Also since none of us were “believers” by any stretch of the imagination we easily glossed over and skipped anything that had to do with magical thinking and just stressed life skills we considered important: chemistry, physics, biology, camping, cooking, changing a car tire, fossils, etc. The kids learned a lot and have a better understanding of the world because of it.

Patty_Melt's avatar

I think the niche it filled has changed to the point that for it to continue would call for it to become something else entirely.

There may be a boy scouts organization in future days, but if so, would not resemble what we have thought of as the boy scouts.

This is one of those rare occasions when I agree with @Darth.
It seems simply destined.

Yellowdog's avatar

I was the first boy ever to join Camp Fire Girls in 1975.

For a while, Camp Fire Inc. included both boys and girls. Mostly girls.

It died too—but lives on in a dozen other programs, such as camps and YMCA-type events, with the Camp Fire logo and banner,

I dread to think that my first entry into this girls organization is what lead to its demise.

RocketGuy's avatar

So they banned gay men, yet a lot on child molestation occurred? I wonder, then, about the demographics of the molesters. Straight, Christian men? Perhaps they should have stuck to non-secular subjects, like @LuckyGuy ‘s troupe.

Yellowdog's avatar

They are really across all demographics.

I imagine some men have genuine affection for the boys, and work in churches and scouts and wholesome places for the benefit of the boys, But that affection goes awry. Most scouts were molested by men who seemed loving but couldn’t control themselves, and usually won the trust of their victims before they started molesting the,

Anyone who has strong feelings for boys or youth or children should discuss this with a qualified counselor. This will help them understand what they are doing, and the consequences of their action if they act.

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