Scouting

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Boy

Today I read the announcement from the BSA Board of Directors that they’re expanding the program to allow girls into the Boy Scouts. I’m saddened by this turn of events because I can no longer in good conscience support the scouting program. For me, the BSA is about teaching boys how to be good men. I believe in order to do this, the focus has to be on the boy. I believe adding girls to the program, no matter how well-intentioned, will inevitably result in a change to both the curriculum and the structure.

Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, says,

“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

This is a noble goal and I believe the values described in the Scout Oath and Scout Law” represent worthy attributes to develop in both boys and girls. However, executing on this content at the local level is where I see problems arising.

The Board of Directors say the rationale for the change is,

“Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family.”

Again, this is noble, but the Board of Directors says Cub Scouts Dens will remain single-gender, which means for families with boys and girls, there will still be separate meetings. The boy’s den will have their own activities and the girl’s den will have theirs. They may be working on the same adventures, but maybe not at the same time and they will each have their own activities. And if they’re different ages, they will be working on different adventures entirely. How is this supposed to help make things easier for single-parent households or allow communities to participate in activities as a family (incidentally, the BSA already allows this with family campouts, etc.)? I think the only way to achieve this goal is to make the dens co-ed…and that’s exactly where I think this is going. When this happens the social dynamic changes at the basic level and this is where the BSA will lose its identity.

The Board also claims,

“Recent surveys of parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts. Education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed relevancy of the program for young women.”

This is great! However, only 10% of boys in the U.S. are currently involved in Scouts. Instead of opening-up the program to girls, why not focus on the 90% of boys in America that could benefit from the BSA’s character and leadership development programs?

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We were expecting rain, but nothing was going to stop our backyard campout.

Tent

As it turns out, we didn’t even get a drizzle. Although it might’ve cooled things off a bit because the air was still a little warm as we headed into the tent. We took the windows down to get the breeze blowing and it soon got more comfortable. …

Anyway, it was still early, so we watched “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” on the iPad…

Tent

Then settled off to sleep…and quite contentedly, I might add.

Sleeping

In the morning, I slipped out of the tent while the boys snoozed and started some coffee.

Coffee

With coffee in hand, I set-up the table and the ol’ Coleman stove to cook our breakfast…

Breakfast

The boys had a good time and thought eating outside was GREAT!

Breakfast

Best buddies…

Best Buds

After breakfast, it was time to take down the campsite. Alex wanted to leave the tent up so we could camp out again tonight, but alas, tomorrow is a school day. Anyway, this was a good opportunity to teach the boys an important aspect of the Cub Scouts outdoor ethics, namely, the “leave no trace” principles, which as the name implies, whenever you’re doing activities outdoors, you leave things as you found them…

Leave No Trace

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This afternoon, the boys donned their Pack 280 tee-shirts and joined some other scouts from the district for some b.b. gun and archery fun. They learned range safety, proper range commands, and the parts of the b.b. gun and bow and arrow.

The boys almost look like professionals in the prone position shooting at the target. Adam thought it was pretty cool because he could pretend he was a sniper…

This was the first time for both of them on the archery range and once they got comfortable with the proper way to hold the bow and notch the arrow, they did very good. As a lefty, Adam used a regular bow and as you can see, he scored a bullseye…

Alex got to use one of the compound bows and he got three arrows in the outside rings. I thought he had pretty darn good form…

The boys had a real good time and are looking forward to the Cub Scout “Cuboree” at Camp Shands in a couple of weeks where they’ll do more work with B.B. guns and bows and arrows!

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Well, our first year in the scouts is coming to an end. Adam and Alex, and the rest of the Den 1 boys, have been working hard to earn their Tiger rank, completing “adventures” and earning belt loops…

Belt Loops

and tonight they successfully advanced. The ceremony was held at the Pack Meeting with a ceremonial bridge crossing that symbolized their transition from Tiger Scout to Wolf. I stood at the entrance to the bridge and removed their orange Tiger neckerchief, while Cindy, our Den Leader, met them on the other side to put on their new yellow Wolf neckerchief.

Alex crosses the bridge…

Alex Crosses Alex Neckerchief

then Adam crosses…

Adam Crosses Adam Neckerchief

Nice work, boys! We’re very proud of you.

Tiger Rank

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Today was the annual Pack 280 Raingutter Regatta, in which the scouts race their boats down a (simulated) raingutter powered by nothing more than the wind generated by their breath through a straw. As you can see, today Alex came out on top! Whoo-hoo!!

Alex wins!

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For the last couple of weeks the boys have been learning about the night sky. Tonight they, along with their Tiger Scout Den Mates, got together to gaze at the night sky through a telescope and observe the patterns in the stars that form a constellation. They even made their own little pin-hole planetarium out of old soup cans.

Pin-hole Planetarium

Alex made Cassiopeia, while Adam selected the Big Dipper…

Cassiopeia Big Dipper

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Today, the Tiger Scouts in Den 1 are meeting at the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium for an Astronaut adventure! This is Adam and Alex first visit to a Planetarium and they’re pretty excited…

Astronaut

after the show, the Tigers worked together on various science experiments…

Science Experiments

and even stood in a hurricane machine that generated 79-mph winds…

Hurricane

A fun day. We’ll be back again for more planetarium shows!

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Boogity Boogity Boogity, as Darrell Waltrip would say! Today was the Cub Scout North Florida Council District Pinewood Derby Race! If you’ll remember, Alex was among the scouts that placed in the Pack 280 Race, so he moved on to the district competition with another 24 Tiger Scouts. So, after we checked-in, Alex sat down and put his game face on…

Game Face

Each car ran in 3 ‘heats’, so it had the opportunity to travel down each lane, then the finish times were averaged to determine the overall winner. Trophies were awarded for the top 3 finishers. Alex was a little disappointed he didn’t win a trophy this time around and I tried to explain that it meant something just to be racing today. After all, there were many Tiger Scouts in the district that didn’t even advance to this race (his brother included), but alas, there’s just something about that trophy. Anyway, we all had a great time watching the races and cheering on the scouts.

Here’s one of Alex’s races (his car is the one on the left)…

Alex’s car was competitive, taking 2nd in this race by a hair…

Finish

So, with the Pinewood Derby over for this year, we’ll place the “Little Green Dragon Machine” on the shelf to remember the fun we had.

Dragon Car

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Today, the Den 1 boys wrapped-up their Good Knights Adventure. For the last couple of meetings they learned about the Knights of old and the code of chivalry, the rules by which they lived. The Tigers learned how much in common they have with these knights in that they live by the Scout Oath and Law, which together provide the rules by which the Scout behaves.

During this adventure, each scout made their very own shield and designed it around one aspect of the Scout Law…

This is Alex’s Shield: His design represents “Loyalty” This is Adam’s Shield: His design represents “Reverence”
Alex's Shield Adam's Shield

We had a great time with this adventure and at the end of the meeting, all the Tigers got together for a picture with their shield’s in hand…

Shields

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Well, today was the BIG day! Pack 280’s Pinewood Derby! The boys were pretty excited to put their cars to the test…

Pinewood Derby Pinewood Derby

…especially ultra-competitive Adam, who is all business. Alex, on the other hand is just chillin’

Pinewood Derby Pinewood Derby

Our Den 1 Tigers had seven cars competing today…

Pinewood Derby

Each group of boys, Tigers, Wolfs, Bears, and Webelos, raced against each other in several three-car “heats” to ensure fair competition. The individual scores are then totaled to determine the winner in each group. Each of the Tigers raced in three heats.

Adam raced against his Den-mates…

Pinewood Derby Pinewood Derby

then Alex…

Pinewood Derby Pinewood Derby

…and in one race, Adam and Alex ran against each other…

Pinewood Derby

So, how did it end? Alex took 3rd Place and gets to advance to the District Pinewood Derby in March!

Pinewood Derby

Alex also took 1st Place in “Design”…

Pinewood Derby

While Adam took 2nd Place in “Design”…

Pinewood Derby

The boys had a great time and were very proud of the work they did on their cars and seeing their efforts brought to fruition at “The Derby”…

Pinewood Derby

Pinewood Derby

…and although Adam was a little bummed he didn’t place, he learned a great lesson in sportsmanship, as did many of the scouts. In the end, that’s really what it’s all about.

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