Although I have lots of great memories from my time as a young Boy Scout, the organization isn’t quite held in the same high position of public esteem that is used to be. Once known as a place for young men to learn knot tying and manners, it’s policies prohibiting atheists and legal battles to retain it’s right to ban homosexuals from it’s ranks have left a tarnish on the Rockwellian picture of young scouts extending their arms to elderly women at crosswalks and performing daily “good deeds.” The ban was lifted in 2015 and earlier this year the BSA announced that transgender boys would be allowed participation but for many the idea that they fought so hard to resist inclusiveness has caused a withdrawal of support for Scouting.
The Girl Scouts have never had such a policy, openly supporting LGBT rights and stating that “our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.” Like much in modern, fractured America, for every liberal demanding the the Boy Scouts no longer be able to camp on federal or municipal land there is a conservative calling for a cookie boycott.
As happy as I am to involve my daughter with an organization that actively promotes fairness and equality, I’ll confess that it’s another example of their inclusiveness that has impressed me the most – their willingness to include me. From roller skating outings to hikes in the woods, every time that I tagged along I was welcomed warmly.
Should I have been surprised? Probably not. Dads everywhere are more involved in their children’s lives, in their daughters’ lives, than every before. In many cases it is only through the efforts of fathers that these young girls would be able to participate.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, but sadly I was. As far as society has come in recognizing that dads are a just as important component of parenthood as mothers, there are still instances such as the one in Lakeland, Florida where a man trying to help a lost little girl find her parents was subsequently beaten and vilified for his efforts. A man at the playground is still looked at suspiciously, his motives questioned, a potential predator or kidnapper until proven otherwise.
As this post is scheduled to go live Alaina’s troop will be settling into their sleeping bags, preparing for their first camping overnight. Unfortunately, she will not be there, my wife and I both at work. As much as we trust the leaders and chaperones that would be tucking her in, Alaina has recently developed a new penchant for sleepwalking, nocturnal wanderings that it seemed unfair to burden others with in the middle of the woods.
She was disappointed, angry even, but placated by assurances that there would be plenty more of these trips and that one of us would be sure to plan our schedule accordingly.
It’s a promise that I’m happy the Girl Scouts will allow me to keep. According to their rules, men are welcome to stay overnight as long as they have a separate tent and bathroom area.
How this will differ from the trees and fallen logs that we used as bathrooms when I was a Scout is yet to be determined, but good for the Girl Scouts for recognizing how much more enjoyable a walk in the woods can be when everybody is allowed to go.