September 11, 2009

Why shouldn't my son join Cub Scouts?

(Reposted from Arapahoe County Parenting Examiner)

As I mentioned in the first part of this article, there are many benefits to having your son join Cub Scouts. However, some hesitation is to be expected. Here are some reasons why boys may opt out of scouting.

1. Discrimination

One of the most notable aspects of Cub Scouts is the absence of girls. Being a precursor to Boy Scouts, this is to be expected. However, it doesn't make the girls feel any better. I'm sure I wasn't the only little girl who wished to be a part of the Cub Scouts, rather than the smock-wearing Girl Scouts. The discrimination which upsets the girls, though, may be why it remains so popular for the boys.

2. Differing Beliefs

One of my primary reasons for being opposed to my son joining was its church affiliation. I was wary of a religious organization which might try to push its views onto my young son. Rightfully so, I might add, as the Cub Scouts are sometimes sponsored by (and may even conduct meetings in) churches. However, a brief chat with the pack leader dispelled my worries. He relayed that the individual dens (and the parents within those dens) decide how they will handle religious differences. If your son joins a den in which religion holds a major part, request to join a more secular den.

3. Fathers Only?

Another type of old-fashioned discrimination experienced with the Scouts is the idea of "father and son bonding." The dads help the boys build cars or show them how to whittle wood with knives. But where do the moms fit in? Being a single mother, I learned they fit in just fine, actually. While I initially felt awkward being one of the few females at meetings, I met other mothers and accepted the occasional help from fathers. That being said, I still continue to experience moments of feeling like the token girl in a boys-only club.

4. Expenses

Let's see: hat, shirt, belt, kerchief, neck slide, and a book. Some of these items change annually with each new rank. That can get pricey. Now add in the cost of dues (which can vary between $50 to $200), the gas to drive your scout to the many events and meetings, the food you'll occasionally buy (if you're not one to cook, like me) for parties, and supplies for completing tasks (like blocks of wood or plant seeds). You're potentially looking at several hundred dollars per year. However, one perk is that by selling popcorn, the boys can earn money to pay off their annual dues. Moreover, some parents of older pack members will pass down their sons' old hats, kerchiefs, or books to newer members.

5. Time Crunch

This is one point I won't argue: scouting takes up a lot of time. Be prepared for at least two den meetings and one pack meeting each month, the occasional Saturdays spent in the hot sun or cold wind, and many nights at home working through the book. A parent must be as dedicated to his or her son's scouting as the boy himself. Nevertheless, this will be some of the best quality time you spend with your son.

For more information:

"Boy Scout bigotry" by Trina Hoaks
"Boy Scouts are Coming: Gay Discrimination in our Schools" by Tracy Kachtick-Anders

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