ASK FATHER: Catholic alternatives to Boy Scouts, now that they’ve gone crazy

From a reader…

QUAERITUR:

Are there good Catholic alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America, now that they have put the final nail in their own coffin by deciding to admit girls?

What a huge disappointment this is.  I was a Boy Scout and it was valuable in many respects.  But that was before the world went completely insane.

I understand that not all troops of Scouts will go down this stupid path directly into the swamp, but enough will that the whole will be compromised.

I have seen some groups in parishes in these USA such as the Troops of St George.  However, I am not up to speed on these groups.

Also, I think there are many different Catholic scout groups in Europe.

Here’s another topic which I think it would be fruitful to open up to you good lay people and, perhaps, priests in the readership.

 

Please share!

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40 Responses to ASK FATHER: Catholic alternatives to Boy Scouts, now that they’ve gone crazy

  1. DavidJ says:

    Our parish is starting up a Trail Life http://www.traillifeusa.com/ troop, which looks to be exactly what we’re looking for after disassociating from the Boy Scouts.

  2. SaintJude6 says:

    We were in Troops of St. George for a couple of years. Originally it was pitched as being very grassroots where you would buy the manual, get together with a group of like-minded families, and go from there on your own. Then they changed course and decided to stay with a model closer to BSA. Prospective troops had to find a parish and a priest willing to charter them. That crushed a lot of interest, since most parishes were clinging to BSA and unwilling to invite competition. (Parishes aren’t terribly receptive to the Columbian Squires group for the same reason — can’t risk offending the Scouters, even though it’s a completely different, non-outdoors program.) After a couple of bad experiences with poorly trained leaders, we left TSG and are teaching our boys all the same skills without paying dues or buying uniforms. Honestly, they get more from time spent serving Mass or volunteering at the parish.

  3. DanJay1983 says:

    Troops of St. George are good. They also have devotion to Extraordinary Form. https://goo.gl/images/otfEx1

  4. WVC says:

    I’ll chime in and say that Trail Life seems to be a pretty good organization. I started it this year with my oldest son. Obviously your mileage is going to vary depending on your local community, but the organization seems very solid. It was made by many folks who were at one time heavily invested in the Boy Scouts but who could not abide the decision to welcome and endorse same sex attraction (first with boys and then with troop leaders). They brought all their experience and knowledge (and a bevy of sharp lawyers to keep from getting sued by the BSA), and have put together a pretty comprehensive scouting experience. They also encourage local troops to fully incorporate their specific Christian faith, so while it is not overtly Catholic they not only allow Catholic oriented troops they even allow you to craft your own “Catholic” merit badge.

    I’m proud of the fathers I know who pulled their sons out of BSA because they no longer wanted to be associated with an organization that was clearly turning its back on Christ and the Christian Faith. They were willing to make the right sacrifice at the right time for the right reason (even if their son was close to making Eagle Scout). I wish more had had the foresight at the time to realize that the BSA was no longer an organization deserving their support. I also wish more Christian leaders (of all stripes) had acted boldly to condemn the obviously horrible decision and encouraged if not outright demanded Christians abandon the BSA after the BSA embraced homosexuality.

    But, I also wish I’d win the lottery and that my dog would stop barking at the people walking in the street. Wishing doesn’t seem to get me very far.

    But a thumb’s up for Trail Life. Unlike some other options, they seem to have really thought through the whole experience and put a lot of effort into creating a sound, comprehensive, and complete scouting experience.

  5. marybiscuit says:

    If you are in the St Louis, MO area, there is a Catholic Dad and sons group called American Rangers. My husband and three sons are members (with the four year old anxiously waiting until he turns 5!). It began in 8-2012, and is the vision of Andrew Daub; a retired army captain and Catholic dad. My husband, who is also a veteran is committed to the group and has greatly benefited in both his Catholic manhood and fatherhood. Our boys love it. Their website is americanrangers.org

  6. AmjdhA says:

    I do not have any first hand experience with these groups, but I know some great priests and families involved with the first one.

    Fraternus http://www.fraternus.net (@Fraternus on Facebook) is Catholic for boys grade 5 and up with their older brothers and fathers that focuses on fraternity, recreation, good Catholic formation, and outdoor activities.

    Troops of St. George https://troopsofsaintgeorge.org (@TroopsofSaintGeorge on Facebook) is
    “a Catholic outdoors movement for fathers and sons.” Ages 6-18.

    Federation of North American Explorers https://www.fneexplorers.com (@FNEExplorers on Facebook) has separate troops for boys and for girls and is Catholic. All programs are single gender with the same gender leaders (men lead boys’ troops and women lead girls’ troops). Ages 6 1/2 to 26. They have a good Q&A page at https://www.fneexplorers.com/what-makes-us-unique.

    The Knights of Columbus have the Columbian Squires youth program. The Knights of Peter Claver also have a Junior Knights program.

    Frassati Groups (list on left side of https://frassatiusa.org/inside-the-us) are for young adults in their 20s and 30s, are Catholic, are typically co-ed, and include outdoor recreation.

    Trail Life has been mentioned. They are a Christian but not necessarily Catholic scouting program. In our area there are troops based at Baptist churches.

    Kepha http://kepharocks.com (@kepharocks on Facebook) is a Catholic brotherhood for men of all ages. They don’t look like a scout-type program.

  7. UncleBlobb says:

    Please check out the Federation Of North American Explorers:
    https://www.fneexplorers.com

  8. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    A good man locally is spear-heading the work to start a Troop of St. George locally.

    Friends of ours much closer to the fires are involved in Trail Life.

    I still have acquaintances (Catholics) who are involved in Boy Scouts.

    We have St. Michael’s patrol, but I think it’s Institute-specific, and not exportable.

  9. VAcatholicdude says:

    The only good thing about the BSA admitting girls is that it may speed the dissolution of the pro-abortion Girl Scouts. It’s still a ‘rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic’ kind of move.
    At least there’s American Heritage Girls as an alternative for the girls.

  10. MacCheese says:

    Two of our kids just joined a fledgling group of FNE’rs. It’s totally authentic and Catholic.
    So far, they and us really like it.

  11. Lucas says:

    I’m gonna go against the grain here…From what I understand the Cub scouts will still be boys only, except they will now have a girls only group as well. Only when they get older will the sexes be mixed.

    And, I’ll say this as a parent of boys and girls, my daughters want to do what their brothers do in the BSA. Problem is, the girl scouts don’t do that “fun stuff”.

    So I’m, tentatively, ok with this. In fact, i’d be fine if they named it Scouts of America.

  12. WVC says:

    Lucas,

    Then why don’t they start a girl’s group that does the “fun stuff”? Why is the solution to always take something that already exists and change it to suit the needs of the [Fill in the Blank]?

    The boy scouts existed as an organization for boys. To change that is to want to change something just for the sake of changing something. It’s less than a hop-skip-and jump, at least “logic” wise, from why can’t we make the Boy Scouts for Girls to why can’t we make matrimony okay for same-sex unions?

    I’m also a parent of boys and of girls. I teach the boys to do boy things. I work with my wife to teach the girls to do girl things. I do “fun stuff” with both of them. I don’t see the need to fundamentally change organizations that have existed for almost 100 years to suit the whims of [Fill in the Blank].

    Also, with regard to the FNE troop – do they really have to do the berets? I’m sorry, but I just can’t get around the berets.

    Seriously – while there are many viable options out there, I think the important thing is to encourage folks to disengage from BSA. If anyone wants to sum up why the Liberals are winning and the Conservatives are losing the Culture War, here it is in a nutshell:

    -The Liberals demand anyone and everyone accommodate their desires. If one disagree (if one even says or THINKS something in disagreement), they will hate him, call him names, try to get him fired from his job, try to shut his organization/business down, physically assault him, boycott him, try to get him arrested, protest him, dox him, destroy his property, and try to do their best to either force him to yield or make it impossible for him to live.

    -The Conservatives are confronted by forceful progressives . . . . and they try to ignore the problem, come up with some excuse why “it’s not that big a deal”, do their best to not hurt anyone’s feelings, agree that they probably really are wrong in some way, and find a thousand ways to compromise in order to not change anything in their life that is comfortable. The BSA seem like a perfect example – Liberals have clearly forced their way in, corrupted the organization, and yet there are still thousands of Christians who will give any number of reasons (my Dad was an Eagle Scout, none of the other scouting organizations are good enough, Eagle scout means so much, I’ve got so much money invested in BSA stuff, all of my friends are staying in the BSA . . .etc.) to explain why they continue to support an organization that is pro-homosexual, pro-transgender, and now wants to pretend there’s no difference between boys and girls (demonic gender theory).

    Things in this world are fleeting. The BSA was a great organization, but it is no longer what it once was. My congrats to those folks, like the original poster, who want nothing to do with what BSA has become. To those folks who, despite their history and family ties with the BSA, still made the break – your sacrifice deserves admiration and respect.

  13. ColoradoDad says:

    We have Trail Life run side by side with Boy Scouts at our parish. I’m not inclined to do scouting at all since I did not grow up with it and think that I can offer my boys the same or better outdoor experiences, but my son is really extroverted and wanted the camaraderie more than anything. The first Cub Scout meeting we attended was a terrible experience (not because of the Scouts themselves) but then they ended the meeting by pushing the annual fundraiser – another thing I detest. We didn’t go back.

    For Trail Life, on the other hand, the overhead is low so they didn’t push fundraising on us. Uniforms were optional to lower the barrier to entry even more. For the elementary age kids, there’s no pressure to achieve merit badges and to spend outside time and money working on them to reach some arbitrary milestone. On top of that, our group has a patron saint (St Jose Sanchez del Rio, a boy martyr from the Cristeros in Mexico), begins and ends every meeting with prayer, and our “craft your own merit badge” is Altar Serving. Also, whenever they do a campout, a priest or deacon always comes along.

    While I still don’t get excited about scouting or its activities, I’m glad our troop made it easy for us parents and I trust that my son will learn Catholic values while he learns to camp and light fires.

  14. Ages says:

    I was raised a Protestant, but my denomination had its own faith-based scouting organization which was solid. Meanwhile, BSA was practically unheard-of because virtually everyone around was part of this instead. I didn’t always like it at the time (“why do I have to wear this uniform?”), but looking back I’m grateful for the real world skills it gave me.

    Parents, do your sons a favor and enroll them in a scouting organization. You won’t regret it, and in today’s insane world they will need as firm a foundation as you can possibly give them.

  15. Glennonite says:

    WVC:
    You have it exactly. I was a Scout before I was a Scout; Bobcat through Eagle, OA, camp-staffs around the world including Philmont, ASM, SM, and Woodbadge. I was (am) a product and proponent of this fantastic organization…until…
    It began with women Scoutmasters and started rotting into the deer-carcass on the highway that it is today. I wouldn’t trade my experiences for the world, but neither would I recommend anyone put their sons in this organization today. The Left destroys everything that it touches.

  16. SaintJude6 says:

    WVC and Glennonite:
    You both hit the nail on the head. We did Girl Scouts (a long time ago before they took a sharp left) and BSA. Both of these organizations have charted their future courses. They want those big corporate donors. The BSA had a Supreme Court decision on their side and knew that the families who had been in the longest and volunteered the most hours were against the change in membership policy. They chucked everything for money and managed to shift more expenses to the council level at the same time. As a bonus, changing their policy meant that individually chartered Packs or Troops would now be on their own legally if they tried to refuse membership to any “openly gay” boys. And the Catholics who said they would walk away if the change extended to leaders somehow managed to come up with new rationalizations. Gotta get that almighty Eagle.
    When you put on the uniform or an organization, that is you saying that you agree with what they stand for. So now when I see someone in a GSUSA or BSA uniform, it tells me exactly what their priorities are.

  17. chris_R says:

    I understand Lucas’s thinking but what I have noticed is that the the BSA appears to be heavily funded or at least little by little influenced by groups pushing the LGBT agenda which wants to destroy any distinction between male and female and move towards additional “sexes.” Additionally, the family is seriously under attack towards its destruction in favor of a tribal system where children are raised by a village or group as opposed to the real Catholic, hierarchical family with married mother and father.

    What better way to destroy true sexual identity and destroy true family and true marriage than corrupting youth and destroy. I saw these things brewing some 30 years ago when a female therapist dressed like a man tried to tell me that I was really a woman trapped in a man’s body and that I should start exploring my “feminine” side and why not satisfy the urge to cross-dress and become the woman that I could be? Fortunately, I ran fast from this one and worked to reclaim my masculinity through the grace of God. I could see this same therapist now relieved that today there is no stigma for a man wearing a dress anymore as was the case with Klinger on the TV version of “MASH.”

    I, for one, can neither support the BSA or the GSA. The BSA has been going downhill for years allowing girls to join does several things. For one, it helps blur the distinction between male and female. For another, it allows a boy or girl who decides that God made a “mistake” with his or her conception and that they should be some other sex and allow them to “change” it without having to loose membership. The GSA seems to be tied into Planned Parenthood with the goal of pushing girls away from motherhood to the point where some GSA girls I talk to find the idea of motherhood being a major impediment to their life goals. Little wonder that our birth date is dropping fast and that children today are often seen as a burden and not a gift from God.

    Robert Cardinal Sarah touches on some of this in his book, “God or Nothing” where he points out that the LGBT community is actually causing great harm to confused souls and is not their friend.

    When I was a kid in the 1960’s, boy scouts dressed as young men in male attire and girl scouts dressed as young women in female attire. By the 1970’s, both were dressing in male attire and nobody really noticed that we were slowly trangendering women by they dressing like men, acting like men, and now competing with men, and in doing what men can do, replacing men and pushing men out of the family. Were the sexes ever supposed to compete with one another in such a fashion? All I could do as a male in the 1970’s and 1980’s was get in touch with my “inner woman” and become a soft male. I wasn’t dressing like a woman but I was being encouraged to think like one and today we wonder how we ended up with effeminate men? Now, I see men who are clearly trying to dress either as a woman or with no sexual identity at all. How can we expect to have the family survive?

    Slowly over the decades we’ve been corrupted and manipulated and now all is in our face coming home to roost.

    So, boys are girls and girls are boys and in the end we’ll have Orwell’s “1984” version of a sexless society where we’ll all dress in unisex clothing (we’re already there — one department store in my area wants to abolish the boy’s and girl’s departments with toys and clothing and leggings are now worn by all) and even have the same hair styles and mannerisms (we’re already there with men wearing women’s hair styles and dressing in floral print garments.)

    So much for the world following God’s will and glorifying Him in the beauty and wonderful wisdom of He making us male and female and for the reasons that He did. I have heard talk in some circles that the Book of Genesis is only a myth.

  18. KAS says:

    Praise God! I am finally able to log on again! Thank you Fr. Z for restoring my login!

    I have heard a lot of good about Trail Life.

    Their sister organization, American Heritage Girls is unapologetically Christian, and as the chartering organization must be Christian, and sets the theology for the group, our parish chartered a troop and we pray Catholic prayers, we pray a prayer to our patron, St. Kateri Tekakwitha, we are involved in our parishes, we sell Mystic Monk coffee as our primary fund raiser, and we do as many of our volunteer hours for Catholic and Pro-life groups as we are able. Any girl is welcome to join our troop but our troop is obviously Catholic in spiritual things.

  19. SKAY says:

    KAS, I am so glad to hear such good things about American Heritage Girls. As a former Girl Scout, GS leader with two daughters in the Girl Scouts, I became aware of the changes happening within that organization when my daughter started a troop as soon as my granddaughter was old enough to join.
    One year was enough for my daughter. She did not like the things that were being encouraged
    by the organization–even for the very young girls.
    The BSA is not the only organization that is being used to change our culture at our children’s expense.

    Chris-R your comment is so true.

  20. MarianF says:

    Our son participates in Trail Life. It is interdenominational, but at their campout this past weekend, our priest stopped by and led a Rosary with all the Catholic boys. This organization has proved a real blessing!

  21. Peregrinator says:

    Full disclosure: I’m a member of FNE and so are all four of my children, so I am necessarily biased.

    FNE is a member association of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe-Federation of European Scouting (UIGSE-FSE), a Catholic scouting (boys) and guiding (girls) association approved by the Holy See. As far as I know FNE is the only Catholic association in the United States that uses the educational method of Lord Baden-Powell, which has been approved by the Popes and singled out for praise by both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. Other associations might be Catholic or Christian, but do not use Baden-Powell’s pedagogy.

    Hope this helps.

    As far as our berets are concerned, troops have a choice of wearing berets or campaign hats; most choose the beret because it is significantly cheaper. And if you think berets are silly, you should see what the FSE’s sea scouts wear in Europe. But then, I think there is something to be said about the humility required to wear a uniform that looks silly to modern eyes. Lots of people thought Benedict XVI looked foolish in the camauro.

  22. hwriggles4 says:

    I figured Fr.Z had been a Boy Scout. Fr. Pacwa was also a Scout, as are several priests. I remember attending a discernment retreat over ten years ago and at least 10% of us present were Eagle Scouts. In fact, one reason I became an EMT not long after graduating high school was I had been a Scout, and I have said like a broken record that I owe part of my Catholic education to the Ad Altars Dei program. I learned more about the Sacraments in four months than I learned in three years of CCD (Some of my Protestant brethren earned the God and Country).

    I enjoyed Scouts (Eagle 1982) and staffed camp. However, if I had a son between 10 and 18 i would recommend Columbian Squires (my Knights of Columbus council has one of the more active circles in the diocese that is going strong), Kepha, or Troops of St. George, particularly since my faith grew beginning in my later 20s. The Scout troop i was in was a mixed bag of all denominations, and we were all kids from the neighborhood and we met at a Lutheran Church in Houston.

    For Protestants, try Alert Cadets or Royal Rangers (I think Aces was in this). There is also a Baptist youth thing called Awanas for young kids – a Baptist friend has his son in this. News was also made earlier this year when the Mormon church decided to stop supporting programs such as Venturing and Varsity Scouting (Varsity never really took off – I remember it’s inception, and was surprised it wasn’t officially gone after a few years), and that was big news.

    I do agree with the poster who said it was a mistake in 1988 when women were allowed to become Assistant Scoutmasters. I do remember throughout the 80s and 90s the Scouts were diligently looking for former Scouts to return to Scouting as leaders, even those who didn’t have a son in Scouting (I recall some good Scoutmasters who had daughters, but these former Scouts wanted to pay back a debt to Scouting). Scouts was also “boy run” – and I still have some good friends from my Scout days, and I made good friends in college with several former Boy Scouts – quite a few who regretted leaving Boy Scouts around 8th grade because it wasn’t seen as a “cool thing” for high schoolers to be involved with.

    I have also heard a rumor that the Knights of Columbus on the national level are considering doing away with Squires, and are discouraging establishing new circles. As I mentioned earlier my council sponsors an active Squires circle, and IMHO doing away with the Squires would be a mistake.

  23. I am an Eagle Scout, member of the Order of the Arrow, and presently an Assistant Scoutmaster of a Catholic-sponsored Troop. While I have my own reservations about the recent BSA decision, most of what is written about it in the Catholic media, bears little resemblance to the actual plan. (My remarks are confined to the present membership policy change only, not the earlier ones, to which I strenuously objected, and over which I nearly resigned.)

    The intention at the highest level has always been to maintain single-gender activity for youth, while meeting the increased demand from the parents themselves for some kind of “family-based” programming. At the same time, the overwhelming discovery at the local level, is that girls of early and later adolescent age want the genuine Scouting experience, and the Girl Scouts of the USA simply refuse to provide it.

    Cub Scout Packs, which are composed of Dens, would have the option of allowing a combination of all-girl and all-boy Dens. (Packs meet monthly, but Dens generally meet weekly.) As for the Boy Scouts, a parallel program for girls-only Troops is being developed, expected for implementation two years from now. There are no plans to introduce co-ed Troops, and every intention of avoiding them.

    Would there be a possibility of “pushing the envelope”? Yes, but that has happened already, so long as parents of Cub Scouts have been compelled to bring their daughters along to an outing in lieu of a sitter, even as they are not officially members. I’ve seen this myself, and honestly wouldn’t know what else I’d expect parents to do, especially when both work.

    Females have been involved in the BSA for most of its history. Women were Den Mothers since the 1930s, and have served in other adult positions in other age groups for the last forty years. The career-based “Exploring” program for high-school and college-aged youth has allowed girls since 1971, and the outdoor-based “Venturing” program for the same age group has allowed them from its beginning twenty years ago.

    It should also be noted that Scouting is not a uniquely American phenomenon, but the BSA is in fact part of a worldwide movement dating for over a century. Of the 169 national associations affiliated with the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), only five other than the BSA presently do not allow girls in all age groups of membership. (The others are all Muslim-dominated countries, for what it’s worth.)

    This would appear to be a far more radical change to the BSA than the previous membership policy changes, the ones removing restrictions based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Unlike those decisions, there is no moral imperative at stake here, inasmuch as the presence of girls in Scouting is not, in and of itself, morally objectionable. Scouting has been, and still is, endorsed by every pope since Pius XI in 1922. That includes national associations with (drumroll!) girls.

    Most important, and once again, this is not imposed from above, but from below, the result of demands going back years. Girls are already in Boy Scouting, and have been for decades, both here and abroad. Other readers of this venue around the world are not surprised.

    As a practicing Catholic, I would only participate in a Catholic-sponsored Troop, even though the local level, the changes in membership up to now are largely unnoticeable. If only in my own unit, I expect this to continue.

    As to any alternatives to the Boy Scouts of America, and bearing intimate knowledge of most of them, I would suggest that the Federation of North American Explorers is the most viable in the long run for Catholic youth. It is the most firmly grounded in the Scouting tradition of Lord Baden-Powell, and its parent organization, the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe/Federation of European Scouting (UIGSE/FSE) has canonical status as an “association of the faithful with pontifical right.”

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  25. Thorfinn says:

    In the end there is a world of difference between an outdoor group that does Catholic stuff & a Catholic group that does outdoor stuff. It’s a matter of priorities. Who do we worship? God or nothing?

    I’m afraid part of the reason the “Boy Scouts of America” has been able to degrade and drag so many along with it is due to misplaced priorities of its leadership AND members. What do you choose – God or the idol of Scouting? What do you choose – God or the idol of the BSA brand (which is, after all, just one Scouting organization of many in the world)?

    I prefer groups that make clear the priorities of what we teach our sons. God comes first. He should not be treated as an add-on.

    Fraternus & the Troops of St. George seem to make every effort to put faith first. The Federation of North American Explorers is the Catholic version of Scouting used in most non-Anglo countries, adapted to fully integrate Catholicism so it isn’t just an add-on. Trail Life has a kind of franchise or modular model that may depend on how you use it – do you tack Trail Life onto your faith, or your faith onto Trail Life?

  26. Paul_S says:

    Thank you for your learned and lengthy comment, manwithblackhat.

  27. If the good Father will permit, I have made note of some other observations here, and wish to respond.

    Contrary to certain opinions stated here, BSA units that are sponsored by religious institutions are not required to change their membership policies to enable the gay or transgendered lifestyle. Indeed, in some dioceses (including my own), adult volunteers of Catholic-sponsored units, regardless of their faith, are expected to sign a form accepting the Church’s teaching regarding human sexuality within the context of their position in the unit. This was not the original plan for BSA, but (according to a source close to the National Council) after word got out that the Latter-Day Saints were going to get a pass on the mandate, everyone else raised a ruckus over it, and so all religious confessions were granted the same.

    (The Mormon are a religious body with what might be termed a disproportionate influence in the BSA, and comprises roughly one-sixth of the total youth membership. They have up to now used Boy Scouting as a component of their training for the Aaronic “priesthood.” Certain innovations in unit operation in recent years — Varsity Scouting and the “New Scout Patrol,” to name two — are inspired by the LDS.)

    There is concern that BSA has abandoned its “Christian values.” For most of American history, “Christian” has simply been a euphemism for “Protestant,” and the then-very Protestant YMCA was an early supporter of the BSA. It has always been open to all faiths, and has had to adapt to their needs.

    One of them involves Muslim Cub Packs being led only by female leaders, as men of Islam do not take such interest in mentoring their sons until they reach puberty. As a local Scout commissioner (essentially a liaison between the organization and the units themselves), I was assigned to provide oversight for such a unit, which would have involved visiting the meetings. When I was told they would have trouble speaking to men who were not familiars, I had to explain to them why. They sent a female commissioner instead.

    There is also mention here of the BSA having the support of the Supreme Court for maintaining their previous membership policy. That would be the Dale v BSA case in 2000. Unfortunately, the BSA was advised a decade later by constitutional scholars, that it was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain that position, due mostly to changing public opinion and anti-discrimination laws in a growing number of states. An example would be when a former Eagle Scout grows up and applies for a job as a Camp Ranger, but is turned down for being openly gay. In most if not all states, the complainant would prevail in court. Furthermore, the primary demographic of appeal for the BSA is parents in their thirties, with boys of Scouting age. These adults have friends who are openly gay. Some of their neighbors are “married” gay couples. They view unnatural acts as perfectly normal, or at least prefer to leave the matter alone.

    (As an openly religious organization embracing all Christian faiths, Trail Life USA does not have this burden. Their founders include some of the best and brightest of BSA’s adult professionals and volunteers, who jumped ship when they’d had enough — and it was about more than the membership policy, which is another story.)

    I hope this clears up a few things. If it doesn’t, some of you know where to find me. I’m not all that crazy about it myself, and fortunately, you almost never hear about it at the unit level. Except for more girls, more lawyers, and fewer ground fires (for environmental reasons), Scouting is in many ways as it has always been.

    Especially if you remain in a Catholic-sponsored Troop.

  28. SaintJude6 says:

    And if you stay in BSA in a “Catholic-sponsored” troop, know that the minute you are outside of your troop such as Council, District, or National events, you have just left all Catholic guidelines behind. Your boys will be at summer camp and Jamboree with “openly gay” youths and leaders, and they will be made to accept all of it. Our old parish stopped chartering a Venturing group when it discovered laxity not only in chaperoning of co-ed groups, but also hanky-panky among the leadership. There are four marriages I know of personally which were destroyed when BSA male and female co-leaders began having affairs. Your family does not need this rot in its life.
    And I wouldn’t look for a signed statement about members or leaders believing in the teachings of the Catholic Church to be much protection. I’m pretty sure some celebrity Jesuit could be found to back up the claim that a bridge needed to be built right there within the troop.

  29. Cincinnati Priest says:

    @manwithblackhat: I’m afraid that SaintJude6 has a point.

    As much as I want to believe that there is a “bright future” (to use their propaganda) for the possibility of Catholic Boy Scouts, and think that what they used to stand for was noble, it is hard to justify this “ghetto-izing” of a Catholic troop, where (for the time being at most) the Catholic troop will still play by traditional rules, refuse homosexual leaders, remain single-sex etc. Part of the fun of the Scouts is to join with other troops, and once those have gone off the deep end of the homosexualists and secularists, it makes Scouting much more less attractive for a Catholic parish to sponsor.

    You state, “There are no plans to introduce co-ed Troops, and every intention of avoiding them.” But recall that, when they made the decision to allow Scouts with same-sex attraction to be members, they swore up and down they had no plans to admit openly homosexual leaders — until they changed their mind — in very short order, because they caved in to cultural pressure on that, too.

    I am sorry, but their promises are just not credible any more. It is now a matter of when, not if, they intend to become a unisex organization and start going down the path of the Girl Scouts in not only allowing immorality, but promoting it. Their leadership have proven that they will be a weather vane, turning in whatever way the most powerful secular currents blow them.

    Why wait for that to happen, when there are good alternatives who can be trusted, who likely won’t cave in in the near future?

    I don’t say this lightly. I am saddended by the slow collapse of the BSA. But I think they are too far gone now ever to recover.

  30. ASPM Sem says:

    The Columbian Squries would be great…. if Supreme hadn’t started to suppress them. No new Circles can be created, and ones that are deactivated cannot be reactivated. The motivation is that Squires should not compete with parish youth groups. They don’t get that it doesn’t compete and that they serve entirely different purposes….

  31. Cincinnati Priest, thou hast writ:

    “[I]t is hard to justify this ‘ghetto-izing’ of a Catholic troop …”

    On the contrary, the Mormons have been doing it for nearly a century.

    If you go to a weekend event, or a training conference, there’s one “track” of activities for the LDS, and another for the rest of us. In fact, when the BSA was first created, one predominant archbishop (whose name escapes me for the moment, he was either in Boston or New York) insisted that there be separate Catholic Troops, with Catholic adult leaders, and a Catholic priest for a chaplain.

    Closer to the present, I’ve gone to meetings where I could swear we were a branch of the Mormon Church.

    “But recall that, when they made the decision to allow Scouts with same-sex attraction to be members, they swore up and down they had no plans to admit openly homosexual leaders — until they changed their mind — in very short order, because they caved in to cultural pressure on that, too.”

    Actually, they caved into legal pressure in some states, as well as non-discrimination policies with some philanthropic foundations — unless you’ve got a better idea of where the money will come from. The BSA has an infrastructure of camps, high adventure bases, and other facilities, all unmatched by any other youth organization in the country, if not the world. And they’re selling some of them off for the extra cash as it is already.

    As far as a slippery slope is concerned, it depends. In some parts of the northeast, or on the west coast, they’ll be defying a standing order to march in “gay pride” parades, maybe, maybe not. But honestly, as much as I hate to admit it, if you do to a typical District or Council event in the vast majority of places, you’d never know that anything changed.

    But one thing has changed. Some of those who supported the policy changes since 2013 are now questioning the heavy-handed way in which the decision was made; the pretense (familiar to faithful Catholics) of having a “dialogue” about a proposal, only to go ahead with little or no warning, and do what they wanted to do along. It works fine for some when it’s in their favor. Now, suddenly, they have to reinvent the wheel for the other half of the youth population, and they can’t imagine where these guys in upper echelons got the nerve.

    But once again, it’s coming from the girls themselves. I’ll say it again, people. Girls want real Scouting, and the GSUSA isn’t giving it to them.

    So two years from now, the BSA will support separate Troops for the girls, as the Federation of North American Explorers, and all other affiliates of the (canonically sanctioned) parent association have been doing for over half a century.

    Something to consider the next time you read of the Pope blessing an audience of Scouts from all over Europe, some of them (drumroll!) girls.

    As for me, I was just fine with things the way they were before 2013. I’m pretty much “old school” when it comes to Scouting. I became an Eagle Scout at the end of 1971, just as the short-lived “improvements” were being implemented. But as long as fathers are not in the lives of their sons (or daughters), women will be adult leaders in the BSA. There is also nothing in theory to prevent a degree of separation between Scouting for Catholic youth, and the rest of them.

    After all, there are more of us than there are of Mormons — for the moment.

  32. SaintJude6, you wrote:

    “Our old parish stopped chartering a Venturing group when it discovered laxity not only in chaperoning of co-ed groups, but also hanky-panky among the leadership. There are four marriages I know of personally which were destroyed when BSA male and female co-leaders began having affairs. Your family does not need this rot in its life.”

    Again, “as long as fathers are not in the lives of their sons (or daughters), women will be adult leaders in the BSA.” There are strict guidelines for chaperoning outdoor excursions. If they are not followed, it is incumbent upon the sponsoring institutions and the local Scout commissioners to intervene. Obviously at least one of those failed to do so in the incidents to which you refer. The rest of society isn’t doing much better, and often without such lines being drawn.

    Scouting did not invite the culture to bring in the “rot,” it was forced upon them by the culture, and enabled by those who refused to defend what were, until four years ago, referred to as “timeless values.” This includes a certain segment of “Executives,” paid employees of the BSA who periodically create tension with volunteers, when their motivation is about meeting quotas and other goals, whether they fit the “Duddly Do-Right” image of Boy Scouting or not. But it alslo includes Catholic leaders already prominent in the movement. Except for a handful of bishops, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting has issued statements about the recent membership policy changes, that are tepid at most.

    The true meaning of Scouting is maintained to this day, by those who are (quite frankly) too invested emotionally to leave.

    That is not to be taken lightly. Because of Scouting, I overcame being socially challenged, and found a place to belong. When I was thirteen, I saved my brother from bleeding out in a matter of minutes when he was pierced in the leg by a large shard of glass. When I was sixteen, I saved half a dozen eleven-year-olds from freezing to death on a winter campout. I can pack for a weekend in the woods without a list. I can cook. I can sew. I can identify trees and birds. I can track animals. I can swim, and save someone from drowning. I can start a fire with one match, or without a match. All those things I learned, I can still do them. And I know who and what to thank.

    I didn’t get this anywhere else. Chances are, neither will a lot of other boys (and maybe girls). No alternative mentioned here has the numbers, the infrastructure, or the influence.

    Some things are harder to walk away from that than certain individuals would suggest.

    # # #

    NOTE: In an earlier response, one segment should have read: “In some parts of the northeast, or on the west coast, they’ll be defying a standing order of BSA and participate in political events, including marching in ‘gay pride’ parades …”

  33. SaintJude6 says:

    manwithblackhat,
    Despite having four children in BSA at the time of the change in policy, my family didn’t find it hard to walk away at all. Here is how it went: Our Faith teaches one thing. The BSA has chosen to promote another. Staying would mean compromising our values. Therefore we will be leaving.
    And yes, I saw many people who had turned BSA into their religion, including Catholics who thought they could substitute the Sunday morning interfaith prayer service for Mass attendance.
    By the way, the chaperoning incidents were promptly reported to the local Scout commissioner along with the offer of proof. (Social media posts revealed that a teen boy and girl had been in a tent alone, at night, for an hour. Another girl had posted about getting her first real kiss at winter camp. And two Venturing leaders had been giving morally questionable advice via Facebook to a teen.) The Scout commissioner determined that these were all “family matters” and no actions needed to be taken.
    LDS has already determined that they have the necessary numbers, infrastructure, and influence to phase out BSA. They are starting with the older boys first. Catholics could do the same.

  34. hwriggles4 says:

    Man with a black hat:

    Thanks for mentioning about Venturing and Exploring. I was in a co-ed post my senior year of high school and early on in college. There were strict guidelines on cohabitation, as well as on other things, and every co-ed post had to have at least one female and one male adult leader over 21. (We had a hard time finding a female leader to attend Philmont with us in the mid 1980s). Our post particularly in high school, had several boyfriend and girlfriend couples, and we had wholesome fun too. Quite frankly, I was a shy kid, and I was able to become a little less awkward having a few girls in our post.

    I learned quite a bit in Scouts too – enjoyed it more than school. It also gave me a place to go in part because I wasn’t a star athlete. Scouts are found in all walks of life – from welders to doctors, from firefighters to nuclear physicists. My old Scoutmaster still gets calls to this day from former Scouts. Some of our Scout leaders were like fathers, and I know several kids whose dad was either working 80 hours a week or was not too involved with his sons, and that’s a place where a Scout leader was a good role model.

    About youth groups, I was involved a little in our parish youth group, but I found it cliquish and most of the kids (but not all) only wanted to be your friend at Church or on retreat or activities sponsored by Church. At school, most were oblivious to your existence. This was usually evident by third hour on Monday morning after a Sunday night event. Scouts was my support group – don’t know where I would be today had I not been a Scout.

  35. SaintJude6, you wrote:

    “Despite having four children in BSA at the time of the change in policy, my family didn’t find it hard to walk away at all. Here is how it went: Our Faith teaches one thing. The BSA has chosen to promote another. Staying would mean compromising our values. Therefore we will be leaving.”

    No, the BSA is not “promoting” any form of sexual behavior. In fact, they have stated for the record that no form of sexual conduct at Scouting activities is to be tolerated. At most, they are removing certain proclivities as impediments to membership. A wide variety of religious and moral beliefs have co-existed successfully in Scouting for more than a century. Granted, the recent membership policy changes (not counting the latest one) have made the determination of what their Congressional Charter calls “kindred virtues” more difficult, which is why what we call “the local option” has prevailed.

    (A recent attempt by the scouting committees of two religious confessions, to promote “gay pride” at this past summer’s National Jamboree, was resolutely and unhesitatingly stopped in its tracks.)

    From what you describe, however, I don’t blame you for leaving. Your Venturing Crew was ineptly led, and your local Commissioner is either badly trained or beyond saving. (This was a unit sponsored by a parish? Where was the pastor in all this?) Even I hear every now and then of Districts and Councils that are caught up in corruption. This has been a problem from time to time, especially among the professional ranks.

    As to the Mormons, their plans for a separate organization for the development of young men, presumedly to take the role that Scouting has played, has been on the drawing board for years now. The “numbers, infrastructure, and influence” have little to do with it. Keep in mind that much of their international growth is only recent, which for their needs requires an international solution. They are ending their sponsorship of Venturing and Varsity programs for older boys, but their involvement in Scouting will remain, if not to to same extent.

    How hard would it be for me personally to leave? I was a Commissioner when the new membership policies were introduced. We were all expected to roll over and pretend it was a good thing. I refused, making an impassioned address at one Commissioner’s meeting, that “if I have a choice between my duty to God and my loyalty to a corporation, that choice is already made.”

    I’m not there. Not yet at least. But I can never serve as a Commissioner again, or in any capacity beyond the local Scout unit. I will go to a Troop meeting tonight. I’ll sleep pretty well afterwards.

    (hwriggles4: What you said.)

  36. WVC says:

    @ manwithblackhat

    Sometimes tone doesn’t translate well over the Internet, so let me start by saying I intend no hostility at all in my comment. I have a few counterpoints and questions for you based on your comments here.

    What would it take before you would be willing to abandon the BSA? You seem intensely invested in the organization, but the explanation that “even though leadership is now pro-homosexual and pro-trans-gender that doesn’t impact me at the local level” sounds an awful lot like conservative Episcopals I know trying desperately to defend the so-called Anglican Communion. If the leadership of the organization continues to push agendas that you vehemently disagree with, so much so that you admit you could never be any kind of higher order leader in that organization, isn’t that a sign that the organization itself might no longer be worth defending/supporting/communing with?

    You extol the virtues of Scouting and what it has personally given you. I don’t think anyone here is trying to say that Scouting is not a worthwhile thing. It’s the specific organization of the BSA that folks are taking issue with.

    You claim that no other organization (Trail Life, NFE, Troops of St. George . . . etc.) can come close to the scope, organization, and experience of the BSA, but might that not be because there are so many good and experienced leaders like yourself who refuse to leave the BSA to help build up these alternative organizations? An open evaluation of Trail Life might lead one to conclude it still has a long way to go, but if one considers how young an organization it is, it really is remarkable how much has been accomplished in so short a time. Why not be a part of building something good rather than trying to hold on to and defend something that is clearly going the wrong way? There’s only one organization that demands our unyielding loyalty forever, and we have a divine guarantee that it will last to the end of time no matter what boneheaded things it’s leadership does – the BSA (or any other man-made organization) has no such guarantee.

    You seem to indicate that paying obeisance to corporations is a necessary evil and it is excusable for the BSA to have given in so much to corporate demands because that’s the only way they can get enough money to support the huge “adventure” camps and whatnot, but are these huge camps and courses really intrinsically necessary to the scouting experience? Certainly all of the skills Scouting taught you (first aid, cold weather camping fundamentals . . .etc.) can be learned without the need for massive corporate sponsored parks. While some of those high adventure courses can be fun, I suggest they do not rise above the level of extracurricular and expendable when it comes to what Scouting should really be about, and I certainly don’t think it’s worth supporting corporate “morality” to have such things. These seem like reasonable enough sacrifices to make if it means standing up for traditional morality. Even small organizations like Trail Life can manage to do local ropes courses and hold multi-troop summer camps (even specifically Catholic multi-troop summer camps), and while smaller in scope they do come free of “corporate strings.”

    Yes, girls want to go camping. Why does the answer have to be “then make the Boy Scouts for the Girl Scouts?” Why isn’t the answer to “make the Girl Scouts better” or “make a girl organization that DOES do camping and fun stuff” or “join the American Heritage Girls”? (Our local AHG group definitely goes camping and does “fun stuff”) Is it intrinsically evil to allow girls to join the BSA? No (unlike the BSA stance to officially endorse homosexuality and trans-genderism). However, it’s another example of breaking down a traditional organization and construct to push the “boys and girls are really all the same” agenda which I find offensive and another big step in the “anything women/girls do is completely worthless unless they’re imitating and joining traditionally masculine things and organizations” which I think all women should find offensive.

    Finally, since the homosexual lobby has been very candid with their tactics over the last several decades, what makes you think BSA will be any different? The homosexual activists have a history of infiltrating organizations by getting a foot in the door and then moving up into leadership positions at a lightning pace. They do this with clear intentions. As soon as they secure enough influential positions, they inevitably mold the organization to suit the agenda. You say that at the national jamboree attempts at a gay pride event were shut down – but how can anyone think this isn’t the first step towards the end state? The simple fact that they even tried a pride event shows that the agenda is already underway. The envelope will be pushed, and pushed, and pushed until they have everything they want, including troop marches in parades, celebration of pride months, awards specifically highlighting and rewarding scouts or leaders with same-sex attraction (they’ll call them “Courage” awards, just watch). . . .etc. With them moving from allowing homosexual boys to troop leaders so quickly, what gives you any hope that things will stay status quo and not continue down the obvious path?

    I respect your dedication to Scouting, and while you’ve been passionate in your defense of the BSA I wanted to offer you more substantial counterpoints to consider. Perhaps the BSA, as it stands today, doesn’t deserve the commitment and loyalty you’re offering it. It’s a thought.

  37. frjim4321 says:

    I’m just saying that scouting in other countries is co-ed and very values-based and, if you will, “conservative.” I’ve have Hungarian Scouts here for a funeral, a very large group, male and female, all in their uniforms, and they were a very impressive group. Boy Scouts, USA, which is highly influenced by the LDS church is very socially conservative and I suspect they are permitting this new inclusivity in order to address concerns about Girl Scouting become more socially conscious/aware/proactive. Before we throw out the baby with the bathwater, it would be good to get a better understanding as to what this change is all about.

  38. @WVC

    Fair enough, to a point.

    I am not defending BSA, or at least not across the board. I am explaining the back story for their decisions, which is essential to challenging them (and I have, at personal cost). No one ever won anyone over by preaching to the choir, and no one ever had all the answers without knowing the right questions to ask.

    You have suggested that my continued cooperation in the BSA might fall under what we would call “formal cooperation in an objective moral evil.” One could argue that Mormonism is an objective moral evil, not only in its perverse definition of God (enough to render their baptisms invalid), but in its bearing some of the characteristics of a cult (if what Catholics who convert from Mormonism are saying is true). And yet, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has had a significant (if you ask me, disproportionate) influence over policies and practices of the BSA, for virtually all of its 107-year history. Such influence would be to a far greater extent than any policy decision removing impediments based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

    And there we’ve been, cooperating with the BSA all along. If I follow your reasoning, Catholics never should have in the first place.

    You wrote:

    “You claim that no other organization (Trail Life, [FNE], Troops of St. George . . . etc.) can come close to the scope, organization, and experience of the BSA, but might that not be because there are so many good and experienced leaders like yourself who refuse to leave the BSA to help build up these alternative organizations?”

    The assumption here is that I have had no involvement with any of these organizations. The truth is, I do have a history with all three of them, some of less duration than others.

    – Trail Life, as I said before, got off to a good start because they had some of the best and brightest of the BSA. They also included a coalition of other like-minded organizations that had never gone far, and found in Mr Stemberger a fine example of a man around whom to rally. That said, I had other reservations about their setup, which are irrelevant to this venue. But I would say that, if I had a choice between promoting a decidedly evangelical Protestant organization, and a distinctly Catholic one, I would choose the latter. Which brings us to …

    – I was an early advisor to the Troops of Saint George, assured of a “top leadership position” by its founder, and the influence of myself and other key persons can be found throughout its organization. We parted ways after their first year, but not before I earned their highest award (which they may or may not send to me one day). One of our readers mentioned the reasons for his own family’s departure from TSG. I know the rest of the story. I won’t be telling it here.

    – I am intimately familiar with the Federation of North American Explorers; its history, its organization, its unique methodology, and separate programs for boys and girls (without being struck by lightning). I have informed the leadership of the FNE, that if enough youth and their parents in the Virginia suburbs of the DC area are interested, I will lead them. There have been at least three inquiries by parents to me personally. When told that we would be starting from the ground up, I never heard from them again.

    As for why one doesn’t work to make the Girl Scouts better, as you also suggest, you’ll have to ask them. Thousands of young girls, to say nothing of their parents, have made little if any headway in the last several decades. Most of the reason the BSA’s decision is happening at all, is because the GSUSA has been (as far as I’m concerned) ineptly run for much of its history, and has drifted far away from Robert and Olive Baden-Powell’s original vision. Girls want real Scouting, and the BSA is where they find it. So it is left to the Boy Scouts of America to “make a girl organization that DOES do camping and fun stuff.” That is exactly what they propose, and not co-ed Scout Troops.

    You have written:

    “You seem to indicate that paying obeisance to corporations is a necessary evil and it is excusable for the BSA to have given in so much to corporate demands because that’s the only way they can get enough money to support the huge ‘adventure’ camps and whatnot, but are these huge camps and courses really intrinsically necessary to the scouting experience?”

    The assumption here (again) is that homosexuality and transgenderism are being actively promoted. I told the story earlier of how at least two religious confessions learned the hard way, at this year’s National Jamboree, that the BSA has no intention of endorsing or cooperating with any sort of sexual behavior or proclivity. I would like nothing more than for the National Catholic Committee on Scouting to take a more forthright approach to the issue, and convene a competent board of moral theologians to tell us where the lines need to be drawn (as a less complicated attempt was made in relation to Protestantism a century ago), but that hasn’t happened yet.

    Then there is the quality of program with a series of “High Adventure” bases. When I was a Scout fifty years ago, there was one, Philmont in New Mexico, and I could count the guys I knew who went there on one hand. Now there are several such facilities, with the latest being built in West Virginia, and I never meet a troop that doesn’t have at least one or two guys who have gone to Philmont, sometimes more than once. No one will be promoting “gay pride” at these events, but the boys (and eventually, more of the girls than already) will have an experience to an extent that they will not get anywhere else.

    You say that the distinctions between boys and girls will be blurred. This is very unlikely, given the prospect of separate sub-units in Cub Scouting, and a separate if parallel program in Boy Scouting. Every official presentation on the subject within BSA, to the best of my knowledge, has made the differences in emotional and psycho-sexual development very clear.

    Finally, you write:

    “The homosexual activists have a history of infiltrating organizations by getting a foot in the door and then moving up into leadership positions at a lightning pace.”

    Yes, they do, but their leaders are not interested in joining Scouting. Their interest is in supporting a few hotheads who want to call attention to themselves, and to which the mainstream media comes running. Once that’s done, they move on. And yes, some people will “push the envelope.” I couldn’t swing a dead cat at summer camp without hitting a Troop that breaks the rules at one point or another. And so, every now and then, you hear of Troops with “honorary” patrols for girls (like the “Unicorns” with one Troop in California). Many of the Catholic scouting associations in Europe (where in most countries, no one corporation has a monopoly on the “Scouting” brand) have successfully maintained parallel units for boys and girls. They go to Rome. Every pope since Pius XI has blessed them.

    From 1999 to the end of 2015, the BSA has lost 34.2 percent of its total youth membership. For most of that time, the average rate of attrition was about 1.7 percent on average. During a three-year period when the three major changes in membership policies were enacted (2013, 2014, and 2015), that downward trend tripled. In his presentation on the current subject, Chief Scout Executive (essentially the CEO) Michael Surbaugh observed that the numbers have stabilized. They know why, and they don’t want that to happen again. And if there’s any expectation that the inclusion of girls will make those numbers rise, they can look at the ones for the high-school-college-age Venturing program, which has always been co-ed, and see for themselves that it’s not the panacea they’d wish for it to be.

    Why do I continue with the BSA? I joined a movement, not a corporation. I will leave the BSA when the BSA leaves the movement (and no, they haven’t — yet), and when I have somwhere else to go.

    # # #

    I want to thank Father Zuhlsdorf for his indulgence with this subject, allowing this exchange to such an extent, especially on my part.

  39. Peregrinator says:

    frjim4321 writes:

    I’m just saying that scouting in other countries is co-ed and very values-based and, if you will, “conservative.”

    Fr. Jim, what you write is partly true. It’s true that mainstream scouting (represented by WOSM, the World Organization of the Scout Movement) is largely co-ed, but scouting in other countries is not limited to WOSM-affiliated associations. Scouting is a movement is represented by many associations in France, Germany, and Italy to name three. France and Germany are probably the most “fractured.”

    Second, while Hungarian scouts may be very “conservative,” the same just can’t be said of other co-ed scouting associations, such as Scouts Canada or The Scout Association in the UK. That said, their lack of conservatism is not really due to their being co-educational; if anything, it is probably the other way around. And it must be said, what is being proposed for the BSA is a far cry from what is practiced in Canadian and British mainstream scouting, where all local groups are forced to be co-ed and there is no option to opt out (except possibly for Muslims). Of course, those in the BSA most upset by this change believe, and not without reason, that it is only the first step on a journey of full implementation of co-education at every level.

  40. WVC says:

    @ manwithblackhat

    Thanks for the thoughtful response. While I still don’t agree with your position, your comments have helped me better understand it. And I did incorrectly assume you had not been involved with any of the alternatives that have started up in the wake of the BSA’s decision to embrace the so-called morality of our times – my apologies for misrepresenting your position.

    I honestly wasn’t looking at it from the perspective of “cooperation with an objective evil” so much as under the category of prudence. I see the culture war as an actual war, and the only way to win wars is to pick fights wisely and fight them ruthlessly. In my mind, if men, boys, priests, bishops, and other religious leaders came out swinging after the BSA capitulated and endorsed homosexuality (I know they’re not explicitly promoting sexual acts, but to even acknowledge that young boys are to be correctly identified as ‘homosexual’ is a bridge way, way too far in my book), what might have happened? If the execs running BSA saw that downward trend not just triple but go up by a factor of 10 or even 20, if they suddenly lost more than half or even three quarters of all BSA leaders, parents, and boys, might they have realized they needed to reverse their very bad decision on some very bad policies? Instead, they saw the bulk of the BSA folks stick with them, religious leaders sit on their hands and waffle around a bit, and if those folks weren’t going to leave or get upset after the official endorsement of the homosexual agenda (a key component of which is to identify homosexuality as an intrinsically defining characteristic from birth) then those folks weren’t going to leave anytime soon.

    So it goes.

    I’ll sum up the rest so as not to go too long (too late!), but I think the BSA, for better or worse, has a symbolic value in the culture war. If the BSA stood up a completely new and different organization to offer scouting to girls, that’d be fine. To basically fold them into the existing BSA is to give in, again, to the culture war that has long targeted the BSA as something that needs to be corrupted. The anti-Christian liberals mostly won with the homosexual decision – this adding of girls to the scouts is little more than a rubbing salt in the festering wound. It’s equivalent to the folks who continue to argue (and I’m not making this up) that men should always use the bathroom while siting. Is that intrinsically evil? No. It is a symbolic way to destroy masculinity. You bet.

    We’re never going to see eye-to-eye on the value of High Adventure camps. I’m not saying they have no value, I just see their value as relatively small compared with the price (Corporate enslavement) necessary to have them. It’s like the folks who argue that kids don’t get a real childhood unless they get a trip to Disney World. For me and mine, it’s just not worth the price, and we’ll do just fine without it.

    Regarding the alternatives to scouting, I think some folks (not necessarily yourself) have unreasonable expectations. Of course it will take hard work. No one should expect any of them to get to a position comparable to the BSA for at least another decade. But if folks don’t toil now while the seed is being planted, that crop will never be harvested. Sacrifices have to be made – nobody said life in this Vale of Tears was supposed to be easy.

    And I confess to ignorance of the inner workings of the BSA. I had no idea the Mormons wielded such influence and power. Now that I know that, the pivot to homosexuality actually makes a lot more sense. Given the LDS influence, I actually would argue that it would have been prudent, long ago, to either seek to undercut their influence or leave and start our own Catholic organization. At least Trail Life allows for exclusively Catholic troops and those troops combine together to have their own exclusively Catholic mutli-troop camp outs. Not perfect, no, but a far cry from anyone even thinking about trying to stage a gay pride event at a jamboree.

    At any rate, peace to you and yours. And I wish you many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.