Spacefem.com

Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Miscellaneous topics worth talking about.

Moderators: monk, helium, deanimal

Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Postby monkeypoop » Sat Jan 28, 21:21 2012

This is inspired by the Girl Scout thread in Feminism and some of the responses to it about Scouting in general - I decided to make a separate topic since this is going on a tangent from the original topic.

A lot of people posted about their personal experiences with Scouting, and they varied a lot - some positive, some not so much. I think it's important to realize that all of these individual experiences are representative of the particular situations they occurred in, rather than the entire Girl Scout organization.

Personally, my experience with Girl Scouts was, for the most part, very positive. We had a co-op troop, so every girl's mom was a leader, and they took turns (usually in pairs of two, I think) leading the meetings and activities. We did a wide range of things: arts-and-craftsy projects, sewing, cooking, camping, camp cooking, rock climbing, caving, whitewater rafting, and more. We also had a pretty big focus on volunteering and leadership activities. As we got older, more of the planning and decision-making and responsibilities fell on us, the girls, rather than our moms, so eventually we were the ones who chose the direction that our troop went.

I remember when I was in middle school, I scoffed at the idea of staying in Girl Scouts when I got to high school - I was sure that I would quit by then because it wasn't "cool." But by the time I actually got to high school, the five other girls still left in the troop were my best friends. I'd matured enough that the idea of trying to be somebody else's idea of "cool" didn't really matter, and with our increasingly busy schedules, Girl Scouts became a way for my closest friends and I to spend time together doing fun things that we decided to do as a group. (It was also a great way to fund these activities with the money we earned selling cookie and doing other fundraisers.)

Obviously not everybody was fortunate to have such positive experiences. I think this is mostly due to both the leadership and the specific group of girls. People mentioned not liking the activities or not being allowed to do the things they wanted to do, being bullied by other girls, and leaders doing nothing to stop (or sometimes even encouraging) said bullying. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to change these past situations, but we can make them better for girls in the future! If you had a negative experience, rather than writing off Girl Scouts as an entire organization, why not get involved? If you have kids, consider getting them into Scouting when they're the right age, and take an active role in making sure it is a positive experience for them. Even if you don't have kids, you can still volunteer your time and get involved to help make kids' Scouting experiences better. I'm personally a lifetime member of Girl Scouts, but I regret that since I went to college I haven't really made the time to get involved again - it is a goal for the future, though.

So what can we do to help foster positive experiences in Scouting? From what I gathered, people's negative experiences were mainly because of two different things:

1. Activities - I think it's probably a little less common these days for Girl Scouts to only do domestic activities, but honestly the specific activities don't matter as much as the idea that Scouting is about the kids. It's not ok for a leader to disregard what the kids want to do and only let them do certain things (within reason, of course; being safe and responsible should come first.) If you see this happening, step in and say/do something about it.
On the other hand, if it's the group of kids themselves who want to do certain things that one kid isn't that interested in, that's a separate issue. Ideally you want to find some kind of compromise so every kid is happy, but sometimes groups don't mesh perfectly. We actually had a girl who was in a different Girl Scout troop, and switched into ours because she didn't get along as well with the other group. This is perfectly ok! It's good to have a group with similar interests.

2. Bullying - Bullying is unacceptable in any situation, and it is not ok for a leader to allow it. Not only do we need leaders who will step in and put a stop to bullying, but we need to teach these kids that bullying is wrong and hurtful. Usually in Scouting, people focus on all the things that you do, but a huge part of it is about the things you learn - not only skills and facts, but values.

Obviously, being a Scout leader is a lot of work, and I understand being reluctant to take on such a big endeavor. That's why I think the co-op leader model is so successful - by dividing the responsibility among every child's parents, it wasn't too overwhelming for any one leader, and we got to benefit from the experience of many different leaders rather than just one or two. Here are a few links for getting involved:

Ways to Volunteer
Find a Girl Scout Council

I don't know a whole lot about Boy Scouts, but I hope that anything I said with regards to Girl Scouts can also be applied to Boy Scouts. In high school, I also joined a group called Venturing, which is a co-ed scouting organization for ages 14-21 associated with BSA. It's youth-run, so the members of your group decide what to do - we did camping, bowling, cook-outs, whitewater rafting, and even a trip to the Bahamas. If anybody has experience to share or any information on getting involved with Boy Scouts, please post it!
User avatar
monkeypoop
I have a nose.
I have a nose.
 
Posts: 1374
Joined: Thu Mar 25, 17:28 2004
Location: Your closet!

Re: Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Postby spacefem » Sun Jan 29, 20:49 2012

I endorse this post with many hearts :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: :heart: .

I personally had an okay but not great scouting experience. Camping was upsetting, I had leaders who cooked us hot dogs in the oven in the lodge, assuring us that we didn't want to deal with all the "mess and work" of making a fire. (WHAHUH?) The activities were pretty good, my mom was a troop leader and had made a lot of other moms mad by enforcing a cutoff limit for the number of girls and telling them someone else would just have to lead a troop too.

But as an adult I've been amazed at some of the awesomeness that goes on in troops with great leaders. One of my girlfriends is actually leading a robotics troop... it spans schools and is dedicated to wiring stuff up, they make robots that move stuff, motors for spin art, you name it! Badass!

And we get great turnout of girl scouts at the annual engineering expo for kids that I volunteer at. These girls are motivated and excited.

The girl scouts are one of the only organizations really helping SWE out with our "c'mon be engineers!" sort of wishes for girls.

So yeah, I'd definitely say get involved! Like everything, it is what you make it. yay girl scouts!
User avatar
spacefem
queen of everything
queen of everything
 
Posts: 7142
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 1:37 2002

Re: Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Postby rowan » Mon Jan 30, 10:08 2012

I totally plan on volunteering and making the troop my girl joins be awesome. And with real camping, too. And knots and other awesome stuff. And telescopes. And robotics. And programming. And probably blowing stuff up too.

oh and of course other things, you know what would be really cool would be a chemistry of baking. Like why does adding baking soda make things rise, and what does yeast really do and stuff like that. Because I find that as I bake more bread (for example) I get a better "intuition" about what it needs to be. But it's not really intuition - it's built up knowledge of how things work.

And I think that everyone needs to know a couple of basic things about life so of course we'd cover that too.
Global warming is intricately tied to the decline in the pirate population. As the pirate population goes down, the average global temperature goes up. Ergo, pirates are cool, and we need more pirates. :pirate: ARRR!
User avatar
rowan
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
 
Posts: 6944
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 11:01 2004

Re: Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Postby kelsa » Mon Jan 30, 11:06 2012

rowan wrote:I totally plan on volunteering and making the troop my girl joins be awesome. And with real camping, too. And knots and other awesome stuff. And telescopes. And robotics. And programming. And probably blowing stuff up too.

oh and of course other things, you know what would be really cool would be a chemistry of baking. Like why does adding baking soda make things rise, and what does yeast really do and stuff like that. Because I find that as I bake more bread (for example) I get a better "intuition" about what it needs to be. But it's not really intuition - it's built up knowledge of how things work.

And I think that everyone needs to know a couple of basic things about life so of course we'd cover that too.



Dude, orgo changed my cooking/baking/crafting life skills. Give me a kitchen, and I can make you soap, candles, and scents!

As for girl scouts, I think all these ideas sound awesome. When I went to Mormon Girls Camp (I know, right?) we learned compasses, how to track animals, how to do archery and other fun things that I hadn't learned in scouts or other places.
I could paint you in the dark
cause I've studied you with hunger
like a work of art
User avatar
kelsa
A crooked squirrel murdering fish.
A crooked squirrel murdering fish.
 
Posts: 1269
Joined: Wed Jan 15, 19:04 2003
Location: Underground Anti-Goverment Headquarters

Re: Helping kids have positive Scouting experiences

Postby Sonic# » Mon Jan 30, 13:16 2012

I'm glad you stuck up for scouting. I think it can be a good activity: it gets kids involved with friends in active tasks as diverse as camping, cooking, navigating, first aid, and writing one's public representatives. I was in the Cub Scouts for several years and the Boy Scouts for almost two years. There were times that I was miserable, since some of the boys loved to act out while I was quieter, sometimes too serious, sometimes too goofy. There were good boys too though, along with good scoutmasters, who combined their military backgrounds with a good understanding of listening, since not all boys needed the same things. One of my favorite memories from scouts was when I woke up early in the morning on a three-day camping trip. It was before dawn, the only light coming from a lamp and the embers of a fire. I started feeding those embers, trying to start the fire again. This attracted one of the scoutmasters, a stern but kind ex-officer who came out, asked about what I was doing, and just chatted for a little while. It was good.

I stopped because, at the time, camping out didn't interest me as much, I wanted more time to myself, and I had the nagging little feeling that I didn't fit (at that age, I didn't feel like I fit anywhere). But I think that scouts of all kinds can help provide positive experiences with good role models.

So monkeypoop, I think what you say about Girl Scouts relates in many ways to Boy Scouts, with some obvious exceptions (boy scouts doesn't have to fight against being reduced to a domestic training course). And I would someday consider being a volunteer for any group like that if my child wanted to participate.
User avatar
Sonic#
established
established
 
Posts: 2725
Joined: Sat Nov 7, 9:37 2009


Return to Random Weirdos

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron