Today I want to set the record straight and talk about my experience with Scouting, why I left, and why I oppose the organization. When I was in first grade, I joined scouts as a Tiger Cub with one of my closest friends. I seem to recall hearing that Tiger Cubs was a new thing for Scouting at the time and that we were among the first to graduate from that program. I don’t know if that is actually true.
In any case, my friend came from a family of scouting. His father was a scout. His older brother was a scout, and his mother was a den leader. So I joined up. All the people in our den were friends already. It was fun, I guess.
Cub Scouts was a little more structured, but not much. We still had the same den mother (my friend’s mom). Basically we still had the same group of friends with one or two new kids. The weekly meetings were held in our homes and the monthly meetings were held in a church. As a Jew it was a little odd, but not too much. Religion wasn’t really an issue.
When Pinewood Derby time came around I had to work on my car at my friend’s house because we had no tools at my house. I always focused on creativity and tried to win the prize of “Most Creative Car,” a prize I actually did win one year.
When I graduated Cub Scouts, I had to walk over a bridge in the middle of the floor to receive the “Arrow of Light” award that all graduating cub Scouts receive. The bridge was in the middle of the floor! I remember thinking that it was kind of stupid to stick a bridge in the middle of the floor. The ceremony was supposed to represent crossing over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, but I just couldn’t get into the ritual of it.
So there I was a Boy Scout at last. I figured that nothing would really change from Cub Scouts, but I was wrong. My friend’s mom was no longer our den mother and the new Scout Leader was an asshole. The older kids in our new den were bullies who picked on all the new scouts (i.e. me and my friends). They particularly liked to pick on the Jewish kids and there were a few of us. The Scout leader never intervened even when it was obvious he knew what was going on. In fact, he emphasized “Jesus” quite a bit and it was actually a little uncomfortable… even for my Christian friends.
One by one, my friends started leaving the Boy Scouts. I probably wasn’t the last to leave, but I did stay far longer than I should have. It just wasn’t fun anymore. The Boy Scouts were far too serious and acted like a bunch of thugs.
I wish I could say that I left because of their discrimination of atheist and gays, but I didn’t know about that until later. I didn’t start questioning religion until a year or two after I left Scouts and I didn’t know any open gay people so I wasn’t even aware gay people existed. I was a little sheltered I guess.
Now of course, those are huge issues and rightfully so but they are only the tip of a very hateful iceberg. As I have come to know many Boy Scouts over the years, I found that most of them are not very nice people at all. The higher up in Scouting you go, the more likely you are to be a hateful asshole.
It could be the uniform or the perceived authority Scouts think they have while wearing the uniform. It could also be the sense of self-righteousness many Scouts feel which is very similar to religious fundamentalists. I’m not really sure, but today I see Scouts as a propaganda organization which indoctrinates kids into being assholes. In my mind, they are just a watered down version of the Hitler Youth. Yeah, I know that is pretty harsh, but there it is. Every time I see Boy Scouts that is all I can think of.
Cub Scouts are different. It seems that Cub Scouts differ widely from group to group, but it still acts as a conditioning for Boy Scouts. So my advice for Cub Scouts is to get out now. My advice for Boy Scouts is this, why are you still in Scouting?
Adults in Scouting are just creepy. In college, I knew an Eagle Scout and he was a horrible person who broke into his roommate’s computer (by physically taking out his hard drive (voiding the warranty) and hooking it up to his own computer to get around the password), in order to prove that his roommate was gay… which he was, but that wasn’t any of his business. The Eagle Scout was seriously creepy and also bullies his next roommate (who wasn’t gay).
Other Bloggers Writing About Scouting Today:
Ramblings of Sheldon (posting on Dec 2)