What’s your opinion on female Scoutmasters?

Tuesday-TalkbackWe’ve come a long way since Catherine Pollard of Milford, Conn., became the first female Scoutmaster in 1988.

That’s when the BSA did away with gender restrictions on volunteer positions, allowing Pollard to lead a troop.

“I do think that this is marvelous,” Pollard said at the time, “because there have been women all over the United States, in fact all over the world, that have been doing these things for the Boy Scouts because they could not get a male leader.”

Pollard paved the way for countless other female Scoutmasters since.

Women like Sandra Vallejo (pictured above), a Scouter in the BSA’s Puerto Rico Council. Just last week she was “given the honor and privilege of being the new Scoutmaster of my troop,” she writes.

Now she’s looking to Scouters like you for guidance.

“I’m curious,” she writes, “is it possible for you to ask your readers their opinion on women being Scoutmasters?”

For today’s Tuesday Talkback, please share those opinions on questions like:

  • Has your troop had a female Scoutmaster?
  • If so, was she fairly treated by her male peers?
  • What, if any, challenges did she overcome in that role?
  • What advice can you give Sandra as she takes over this new position?

What the BSA says

I can’t leave you without sharing the BSA stance on this. In the organization’s official FAQs page, this question is included:

Can women be Boy Scout leaders?

Yes. Every leadership position is open to women. In fact, more than one-third of Scout volunteers are women.

Other Tuesday Talkbacks

Join past discussions here.


  1. It’s important to have male role models, but our troop functions well with a female Scoutmaster. I think women challenge the Scouts to think in different ways. Strong women help raise great boys into fantastic men.

    • I became a SM a few years after women were first allowed to hold that position. I didn’t know at the time that women SMs were few & far between. The tiny community we lived in had a thriving pack but no troop despite trying for years to start one. I started a troop with the idea of finding a dad who would step into the position once the troop was up & going because I wanted the Scouts to have male role models. After trying to find “my replacement” for a year, and feeling as a bit of a failure, a SM from another troop & a CC from yet another troop (both men) sat me down & gave me a good talking to. They pointed out that my willingness to take on the role of SM actually DID provide male role models for the Scouts. You see, even though none of the dads felt that they had the time to be the troop’s SM many of them DID regularly attend the meetings, outings & serve as merit badge counselors. I was SM for 6 years. After more than 20 years as a Scouting volunteer and many, many volunteer positions I can say that SM was one of my absolute favorites! Man. Woman. I believe that gender does not determine the effectiveness of a person in the position of SM. Desire to give the best possible Scouting experience by being trained, keeping up-to-date on the latest from National, involving parents & the community, encouraging a boy-led troop, and providing the best program possible with integrity and passion for the program. That, I believe, is what makes a good SM.

      • Maybe if you had not automatically discriminated against non-dads in your search for a replacement you would have been successful. Why did you do that? Homophobia?

        • Don’t know if ruling out a “nonDad” was an issue in her case, but some units are very up front about discriminating against childless men. A troop sponsored by a Methodist Church in Bethesda, Maryland, won’t even admit men unless they have a son who is a registered Scout in that unit. Let’s face it: Some people still have brains of stone.

  2. I salute the BSA for opening up the leadership ranks to women in the first place. We have many solid female leaders that are part of our council. We just need to stop the political madness of preventing gay folks from serving as leaders. Their is still a backwoods philosophy with some that “gays WILL molest”. Which any educated person knows is false. We have to stop being the only organization on the planet (except Trail for Life) that specifically bans Gays from leadership. As Baden-Powell said- Religious training is up to the Scout’s families and clergy. Scouting is to nurture reverence, not serve as church

      • BSA THEMSELVES came out with a statement recently saying that they recognize that homosexual men are not necessarily pedophiles. It’s simply untrue and I have no idea how the stereotype even got started. A multitude of studies have been done over the years and there is NO evidence that a gay man is more likely to molest a boy than a straight one. Indeed, almost all of the cases in Scouting we have of child molestation have been perpetrated by men married to women. Saying a gay man will automatically be improperly interested in a young boy is the same as saying a straight man will automatically be interested in a young girl. It’s simply not correct! ALL leaders have to be background checked and take youth protection training, even those who don’t work directly with the youth. That should be enough

        • Although YP is kind of a joke. It takes what….about 30 minutes to do on-line. And to think that pedophiles don’t know the ‘right’ answers to those questions and would not lie about their history is ludicrous. It’s PAPER protection, not real protection. The only way to know is the background check and even that doesn’t help if he/she has never been ‘caught’.

          Basically, a good prayer that we choose the right people is just as effective.

          And I HATE that this sick pedophiles have made it so difficult for the rest of us in a small troop. Getting 2 deep in my troop was like pulling teeth. Only 5 active boys and the parents did not camp. IT was a nightmare, we got it done, but it wasn’t easy.

          To put some humor in a NOT HUMOROUS topic…. I think I would have been the one in trouble, lol…if I had been the only adult! But then all of our boys were friends out of the troop as well as in and often stayed at our house (NON SCOUT EVENTS).

          PS: The emphasis is on leader/boy abuse. What BSA does not address is abuse between boys. Without going into detail, I will tell you it absolutely does happen.

        • Youth protection is key, but the key is that we are all watching each other, and in doing so there is no opportunity for anything to go wrong

        • Jodi and Ray,
          Since you have hijacked the thread we should address that issue.
          The argument is a word play. When we are quoting statistics about homosexuality and pedophilia, we are talking about a very specific thing – prepubescent boys. Pedophilia has a very narrow definition from a legal and psychiatric position.And you’re right, all statistics show there is a much lower incidence of pedophilia in homosexuals than there is in heterosexuals.
          But in Scouting, particularly with Boy Scouting and Venturing, we’re not discussing prepubescent boys. Pedophilia does not come into the picture.
          With post pubescent boys, we’re talking about Hebephilia (roughly 11-14 age boys) and Ephebophilia (roughly 15-19). And the little research (politically no one would be allowed to publish any studies in today’s politically charged environment) that has taken place does create some challenges. But there is a higher incidence of hebephilia and ehebephilia in homosexual men than heterosexual men (look up the study reported in Scientific American). And if you honestly think about it, it makes sense. A 16-17 year old is often essentially an adult in every way but legality. Physically they have reached adulthood. So why would it stand to reason than a person attracted to men wouldn’t be attracted to a young man who has not quite reached legal adulthood? We recognize that heterosexual men would in a like situation. If you do a little research, you’ll find the topic is not unpopular in homosexual literature – look up the concept of twinks. Often with the older age groups, there is not a large age difference between the youth members and adult leadership. It’s even recognized in the Youth Protection for Venturing under the policy about no fraternizing.
          Ignoring all of that, I can’t think of anyone in their right mind who would allow a young man at 21-22 years old to take a group of young women (16-17) out for overnight activities – or even two leaders. YPT requires coed leadership for all coed activities.
          Now, how do we match this policy with homosexuality with YPT? Particularly one that would be satisfactory to the homosexual community? Would a rule that no gay leader may go out without a straight leader? How do we provide a set of guidelines that doesn’t favor gay leaders by assuming there would never be interaction while assuming that straight leaders would?
          Keep in mind none of this is in any way based in anger or bigotry towards homosexuality – just reason and serious contemplation. I have been asking this question since the topic has come up, and no one has been able to provide a reasonable plan that doesn’t endanger boys.
          Even the current membership change puts youth at risk of youth on youth harassment during overnight activities. We are requiring gay youth potentially bunk with straight youth. Yes, they can’t be sexually active while in Scouting, but it would be a real bummer if that happened at a camp. YPT now really only protects against a second occurrence. If we apply the former example of mixed gender, we don’t allow that at all. We do not allow teen boys and girls to share sleeping facilities. Under the current membership guideline, that is inconsistent with the ideals behind YPT. We put our young men in a potential situation that we would never put young women into. It’s not that a gay scout is going to automatically be attracted to another scout, but like young men and women, there is a potential.

        • No matter what yours, mine, or anyone else’ viewpoint on gays….your mention of youth on youth exemplifies what I already stated in an earlier post

          IT HAS ALREADY HAPPENED! And BSA does not, has not, and will not address it (meaning youth on youth). We are not allowed to enter their tents, so once those flaps are closed there isn’t much we can do. It’s usually found out after the fact.

          We tried. We had to handle it at the troop level. BSA wouldn’t touch it.

          I won’t go into anymore detail other than to tell you that I’m sure it is not a remote incident.

    • True. I have mixed emotions about the gay issue, but bottom line here is what I tell people. If you are talking about molesting young boys OR girls…it is no longer about GAYS. IT’s about pedophiles which come in both gay and heterosexuals.

      I understand the fear some have…but again…that fear should be aimed at PEDOPHILES, which are sick, twisted individuals who CANNOT BE CURED. Totally different thing.

      About women. I was SM for 4 years and ASM for a year before that and leader in cubs before that. Mainly coerced because no one else would step up.

      There is still a lot o anti-women attitude around here. Recently a leader in OA said when picking advisors if all things are equal he would always pick a man. I and most of the other women had a problem with that. This person even admitted that women are there because men are not/have not been stepping up. I told him ‘well, and you blame the women for that’?

      We have fantastic leaders in our council both men and women. Talent, expertise, knowledge, and will to serve have no gender.

      • Most Boy Scouts and all Venturers are pubescent and thus are of no interest to pedophiles. We’re not talking about pedophilia, just homosexuality.

        • Not sure I get your drift. Are you saying pedophiles do not go after teens (male or female)? That would be incorrect. The profile of a pedophile (stereotypically) is going after a child zero to 13 or 14. That is the prime age for boy scouts (and girl scouts). That’s where some of Gacy’s victims came from – boy scouts. I guess if you want to differentiate between molestation and pedophilia you could. I don’t see the difference except in a medical sense (one has been proven to actually be a disease with specific brain activity changing and one simply being a control issue). Molestation occurs when any ADULT forces anyone under the age of consent.

    • This discussion does not belong here. Ms. Vallejo asked our opinion on women as Scoutmasters. Let’s help by sticking to the subject.

    • The fact that we still have to fight the stigma that homosexuals will sexually assault minors proves that the stigma against homosexuals is still present and unfortunately seems to be growing. Which in truth is bad for everyone leaders and Scouts alike.

  3. Yes. Absolutely. Why is this even a question?

    Whether a scoutmaster is good has very little to do with their gender. I have seen some really bad scoutmasters who were men and some outstanding scoutmasters who were women.

    I have seen dads who “never really got into the whole outdoor thing”. And their wives who grew up in a family where her father and brothers were in scouts and really understand what the program is about.

    Of course, anyone who is familiar with Scouting internationally will realize that this is not an issue at all.

    • I will follow up on this that in my experience, acceptance by one’s peers has more to do with generational differences. The younger male leaders had fewer problems with our female leadership than our older leaders. Education also played a role.

      Here is how to silence all critics – or at least muffle then sufficiently… We know that scouting is a game. So beat the naysayers. Run a good troop. Make sure your scouts are kind and respectful to each other and their leaders. Make sure they’re learning their skills. Once you get a good reputation, the din of criticism is diminished.

      Find some allies. Focus on the scouts. It may not be easy, but you will win them over.

        • Brian, That is the BEST advice for everyone!
          If all of those who take a simple question and hijack it to suit their agenda or political belief, would take that advice, the scouting movement would be a much better place to serve our scouts.
          Focus on the scouts.

      • I could not have said it better. I have a troop that a more than qualified female wanted to be SM, Committee members were older and vetoed it and swayed the vote of younger members – peer pressure at it’s worst. Shame, perception is gender, age, racial, religious biased even in today’s world.

        Base decisions on the person. PERIOD.

        • I belong to a troop in New Jersey. There has not been a woman go on an overnight trip for many years. one ASM took a fit when I recently showed up for the daytime on a camping trip. He does not think women have a place in scouting

  4. Absolutely! Gender has nothing to do with the role. As long as a person as the skill set to do it and the support of the rest of the Troop – go for it! The trick for females is to frame any feedback without any possible gender bias (on either side). Once people see that she is not approaching it as a female, rather as a scout leader, the mindset will change – slowly. This actually applies to any role in Scouting that a female is fulfilling.

  5. In Italy we have diarchy in every level of scoutmasters and leadership, and this is the optimum way for to educate to respect of genders

  6. A good Scoutmaster is a good Scoutmaster. Period. Whether they are male or female is irrelevant as there is no basis in gender determining if someone is a good Scoutmaster or leader. I’m not sure why this is even being brought up.

      • I tried to speak freely and got crucified! I am the only woman ASM in the troop and questioned how sarcastic and bossy a male leader was being toward the boys. The men ganged up on me, the scoutmaster wrote a recommendation to committee with a bunch of lies in it and my membership was revoked in the troop after 21 blemish free years of scouting!
        Then, the scoutmaster wrote lies about my son and had him kicked out too!
        So much for women being allowed to have an opinion in that troop!

        • OMG! Very close to the situation I had. CO wanted their own person in as COR who our troop had rejected due to abuse. Made up lies about me and the troop that were proven to be lies. But it didn’t matter, not even when the council execs were at the meetings and heard the parents tell the CO that it was all lies (since they were THERE).

          Good ‘ol boy club hard at work in your case and mine. My troop died because of it. One that had been there for 50 years. Good work, ***** Club. Back a POS who mentally and emotionally abused the boys! Good work council for letting this person go on to be a unit commissioner and his wife a district one.

          Proof means nothing to some people.

      • Meaning bias AGAINST women leadership. A lot of men (and some women) still feel that women are only good enough to work with cub scouts. I may get bit on this one, but I’m repeating what was told to me by a female LDS friend. She has always answered the ‘call’ to be a cub leader. She helped with cub day camps. Did everything. She said she was disappointed that when her boys crossed over to scouts she would not be able to take part as a leader.

        Now this might get me bit again, but the women’s lib in me made me say to her….do you have to be in a troop that is LDS? IF not, take your boys and your expertise and energy to a troop that will appreciate you.

        But remember I grew up in the women’s lib movement, lol. But being a loyal LDS that was not an option for her.

        • For CLEARLY….YEP, LDS issue but it hurts scouting, so it is a BSA issue. I only know a few LDS people personally and they are great people, but I don’t know all the ins and outs of the church. I’m thinking it’s a pretty sexist church….within itself anyway.

        • Clearly, I have to disagree, this is not an LDS only problem. It is an issue that is rampant among all of society, particularly true in the United States. Just look at how many women have to fight to have equal rights in society as males do. This is fact and it becomes even more clear when you examine the stats relating to gender inequality.

        • mariahwwa,

          When I was the Senior Commander of a Royal Ranger Outpost I had a mother come to me and wanted to become a Group Commander of the Discovery, Adventure, and Expedition Ranger boys. Her son was slightly handicapped and needed assistance. She wanted to help out and I needed the second person present while I worked with the boys. I approached the pastor concerning this and got a rejection. I had asked many, many men in the church to help out with the boys and all I got were excuses. This did not set with me at all. I prayed about it to find wisdom. The verses concerning Gideon being called a great warrior came to mind even though he was in his 80’s. Gideon was not a warrior at the time, but God knew what he was to become in the future. So I decided that Helen was going to be a Commander.

          I trained her up myself since I just was certified as a trainer. Helen earned her LMA, Leader’s Metal of Achievement and was given her blue bars for her uniform. Word got around that OP-375 has a woman group commander. We were on a camp out and I was asked about Helen. As the other male leaders sat around the camp fire,they got an earful.

          The sectional commander cornered her and tested some of her skills. He stated that she knew more than men that were in the same position for years. He had no problem with her being a leader of the older boys.

          One of the boys in the outpost refused to address her as Commander Helen. Of course she was upset over it. She wanted me to say something to the boy. My reply was, “Ignore him until he properly addresses you. You earned the title of Commander and have the double bars on your collar.” So several weeks went by and the boy and parents complained that Cmdr. Helen was blowing off their son. My reply was “Address her properly and see how she responds.” Helen was addressed Commander and the respect was given to her.

          By the way, Cmdr. Helen is about the only person in the church that brings in and works with the project kids. So who is the good leader?

  7. I took my first Wood Badge course in 1988 and had the first 2 women to take WB in our Council in my patrol. They impressed me, and many female leaders since have done the same. I saw a lot of resentment then. Most leaders and certainly all youth don’t remember a time without female leaders. It’s a non-issue at this point.

    What is an issue for me is the female leader who feels like she has to over compensate for being female. They need to earn every award, serve on every committee, and tell everyone how they are doing it wrong to prove they are as good as or better than every one else. Just do your job and I’ll do mine and we’ll get along fine. I don’t care if you’re female or martian. If you’re a good leader, you will have my respect.

    Funny, I took WB for the 21st Century last year and had 2 female members in my patrol again. Two of the most impressive women I know. I would be honored to have them lead any unit or event.

    • I was with you until you dissed (sort of) women for over-compensating. It’s not just in scouting that we have to do that. I grew up doing what my older brother and my dad did….shooting, boating, flying, military, outdoor stuff, etc. I always had to prove that I could do what the males did as good or BETTER than what they did. No, I did always accomplish that. But they did see my effort.

      It should not be that way.’

      Now the part about telling others what they did wrong. I never did that. I’m not sure I would like a MAN or a WOMAN who did that.

    • Gender bias at its finest………….

      “What is an issue for me is the female leader who feels like she has to over compensate for being female.”

      First off the overcompensation standard applies to both men and women. Quite frankly, I have seen issues arise from overcompensation more often with males the females. Secondly, people who have to serve on every committee and always prove why others are wrong, don’t have a gender identity problem,the have an ego problem. Ego problems cause more harm to Scouting than anything else. Reminds me of the saying………..

      “We live in a society more offended by cuss words and inappropriate language than we do famine and poverty.”

      So maybe instead of blaming it on a gender related issue, put the blame where it really belongs and that is pretty much exclusively ego problems.

  8. is not a matter of gender. it is a matter of knowledge, desire for adventure, passion, principles, and moral uprightness. knowing sandra personally i understand that she fulfills everything is needed to lead a troop.

    • Lately, it seems to me that the desire for adventure is being replaced with fear of litigation but that is an issue in and of itself. Knowledge needed for the job of Scoutmaster can be taught, while principles and morals are innate human characteristics. Is it hard to teach the skills needed of a Scoutmaster in regards to the outdoors? Sure it is and it is very time consuming but then again knowledge of Scoutcraft is slowing disappearing at an alarming rate.

  9. Posting this anonymously for obvious reasons…our Troop has never had a female Scoutmaster or Assistant Scoutmaster, and the few women who have tried to volunteer have been discouraged. Our existing leaders are firmly of the opinion that men serve as Scoutmasters and women serve on the committee. I’m sure there are other troops with this attitude…they probably don’t much read things like Bryan on Scouting though.

    • What is your reasoning behind this?

      Your units are missing out on a lot, as would units with only male leaders. Having both perspectives can only enrich your unit and your Scouts experience.

      In addition, your units are teaching the boys another subtle lesson: women shouldn’t be in leadership positions over men.

    • I think this is a very misleading and unhelpful comment. most likely this unit andcitsvcommittee is unaware of the positive aspects of a diverse gender leadership

    • Anonymous…I think looking at the number UP votes….it’s still a scary world out there! I’m assuming the up votes were voting up because they agreed with your unit’s policy. That’s what’s scary. Not saying YOU Feel that way, but your troop and at least 9 others on here agree.

    • Sounds like my son’s troop. I tried to volunteer but was told i was toi much of a “helicopter parent”. Funny several of the male leaders do the sane things with their boys but it’s accepted..

  10. I think it’s pointless to ask. Anyone who gives a negative opinion is going to pretty much be vilified regardless of their reasoning. Personally, while it’s important for boys to have good male role models, the fact is that in some communities that proved difficult, and women have proven to as effective as their male counterparts. In any case, I’d rather a boy have Scouting whatever way he can get it.

        • WOW, a down vote for asking an honest question. I honestly meant that as a question. I guess someone took it as sarcasm. I truly want to know what he/she meant. No sarcasm intended.

        • mariahwa – I don’t think anyone knows which comment you are asking about. Based on the like/dislikes, it appears some folks don’t like suggesting the safe haven isn’t so safe.

        • My women’s lib was kicking in thinking it was suggesting it wasn’t safe anymore because women were involved. I didn’t want to go off in left field if I misunderstood.

          About safe haven, I’m going to be cynical here. It is not a safe haven anymore than any other organization that involves youth and adults, never has been, never will be.

          We are all human. It’s kind of like expecting the clergy to be God-like and not be criminals or evil-doers. Most are closer to God-like than the rest of us (note I said closer not perfect), but they have their share of psychos as well.

          What BSA does not address is boy on boy abuse. Not talking about physical – talking sexual. What happens in the tents we are not privy to and because of the two deep and not entering their tents rule things can happen, and sometimes we don’t know about it until it’s too late, sometimes AFTER the return home.

          BSA needs to look at how to address that and how we as leaders, while keeping with the YP rules can prevent this. Right now there is no way to prevent it.

          So, yea, I kind of snicker at safe haven. That doesn’t exist anywhere. If the original poser is referring to women….well, I’ll just say anyone who says that is a sexist.

    • Also anonymous… given the choice between “no scouting” and “scouting without women leaders,” I would rather a boy have Scouting in a troop that discourages women leaders than not have Scouting.

      It’s wrong on so many levels and in so many ways, but if the troop in town doesn’t want women leaders, and that’s the choice my son has, I’m not going to say, “no Scouting for you, they’re a bunch of sexist cavemen.”

      Yes, it’s inconsistent with Scout values, it’s terrible, hypocritical, morally wrong, “aren’t I encouraging it by not standing up against it?”, etc. but scouting provides a lot of good for boys, even if some of its leaders are behind the times. If we have to tolerate some sexism to get Scouting, then we will. Sorry women, I put my son’s interests and his scouting ahead of your ambition and desire to lead in a volunteer organization.

  11. Is there a problem? I know that back in the day there was widespread resistance to it (at least in the south). But at that time Scouting was undergoing dramatic changes with many adult men dropping out of Scouting. This left only the moms and women. It makes since that Scouting turned to this very valuable resource. I personally know and work with the first female Scoutmaster (of my old Troop 34, Benton, AR, First Baptist Church) and first female OA member in the now defunct Ouachita Area Council, #14 out of Hot Springs Arkansas. She still is involved on District and council level along with many other women too. I thank you all for your service to Scouting.

  12. When my son crossed over 4 years ago, there was a strong sense that women were welcome — to the committee. There was a big dust up at a committee meeting back then, with some men stating that a woman camping with the Troop would lead to immorality between adult volunteers. Those men did not persuade the committee, since BSA policies & the chartered org’s policies disagree with them. They (eventually) left the Troop.

    A trained leader is a trained leader. Having an adult who understands and implements the program in the Scoutmaster chair is far more important than which restroom she uses.

    So, Sandra Vallejo, you might have to push back, but push back knowing you’re right, knowing the organization stands behind you. Push back by doing it right.

    • What jerks you had! Good riddance. If a person is going to cheat, it probably isn’t going to be at a SCOUT FUNCTION! Yea, right, where the boys can go back to mom and dad and tell. Really? What a stupid mindset they had.

      • Let’s not jump to conclusions. I’ve had things stolen from me at Scout functions. I know of an active scout couple (Order of Arrow, Wood Badge staffers and directors, Scoutmasters, etc.) who met in scouting and, after having an affair for a year, divorced their spouses to be together, etc. I’ve seen plenty of un-Scout-like behavior at Scout functions, from boys and adults. Sad to say, but Scouting isn’t immune to all the other problems in society.

        • Question about the cheaters? Did they cheat on CAMPOUTS? Cheating in front of the boys is much different than having met in scouting and then carrying on an affair and eventually marrying outside of the scouting environment.

          THAT BEING said…well, you don’t want to know my opinion of cheaters…have to keep it clean on here…..but behind the scenes cheating isn’t the same as blatantly cheating in front of the boys on campouts.

          And the idea I got from the post was that these so called leaders were saying that men and women can’t keep in their ‘you know what’s long enough to give the boys a rewarding and educational campout. To me, that is ridiculous. And it also seems to me if that is happening it would be the troops benefit to confront the individuals (not the kids of course) and get rid of them.

          That would be a blatant disregard for our scout oath and law….to me grounds for removal.

        • Sadly, not every Scout is a good Scout.

          Having said that, people who assume that married men and married women are destined to moral failure have low expectations for themselves and those around them. This implies a belief that men and women cannot be near each other without choosing to be “morally straight.”

          There are also checks & balances, and witnesses. My son’s Troop often has three or more adults on a trip, similar to the way 2-deep provides witnesses to discourage bad behavior.

          I am glad the people who believed that found a different Troop, more in line with their philosophy. I disagree with their position, but I am not personally harmed by it. If their marriage vows are that delicate, then they are being wise to protect them.

  13. I can’t believe you are actually stooping this low and even discussing this. The best Scout leaders I know are women. Move on.

    • I’m merely passing on the question from a female Scouter who contacted me. I think it’s a relevant, useful discussion.

      • Totally agree with you Bryan. It also helps to show that while we (the BSA) have come a long way in regards to developing a positive attitude to females being in primary leadership positions, we still have work to do. But overall when it comes to female/women’s rights we still have so obvious work to do.

        However, I do have to say that I have met few females that would be comfortable taking a group of boys into the back country. That however, is not to say that I have meet some women who would do an excellent job, they are far and few between.

        • As SM I did everything the boys did because I HAD TO. Without me we wouldn’t have 2 deep and sometimes it was hard to get that 2nd person. I did it for the boys.

          NOW, having said that, I have some medical issues and some personal issues that made that difficult.

          I HATE COLD WEATHER. And I have trouble sleeping on the ground due to back and hip problems. Now warm weather not an issue – air mattress or cot. But as we all know you can’t do that in cold weather. So I had to suffer through the sleeping part of the winter campouts. I have bad knees so extremely long hikes is difficult, but I take my meds and go for it.

          In a large troop, I could have delegated those campouts to those who enjoy them. Just because you are SM doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself….unless you are a small troop with limited adult participation like ours was.

          For awhile we had a couple whose kids were long grown but still stayed loyal to the troop until they moved. These were dedicated, knowledgeable, long-time campers. When they were there, I didn’t HAVE to do the cold weather stuff, cause they LOVED it, and generally if 1 went the other went.

    • I don’t think this is a matter of stooping… But I find it refreshing that you do.

      Having lived in many different places around the country, I can attest that in some places, there is still considerable opposition to this.

      Fortunately, for the scouts, that opposition isn’t what it was 20 years ago.

    • It seems like a total non-issue to me, but there are clearly units who still have this policy and providing support for women who do or who want to be leaders.

      So for all you female leaders facing opposition – please see that there is a lot of support out there! You may just be the one who swings your unit to favor female leaders.

      • Well said Liz!! Often times when we need support, we feel alone because we can’t see or aren’t in touch with others. Remember needs can be quickly helped or met if one would only ask or talk about things. You’ll be surprised many times over where support comes from. So don’t be afraid to ask for help or mention your struggles/needs!

    • Your perspective is encouraging, but sadly this conversation does still need to happen. There are still Troops in my area (suburb of a major metropolitan area) that aren’t OK with any female leadership (except bake sales/popcorn), campers or anything other than a car ride. As a woman, I can tell you that it’s very frustrating to be looked down upon by some other Scouters, despite the fact that I have more camping and outdoor experience than many of them.

      • I have been active for almost 20 years and the changes over the years has been encouraging. However I feel, I still believe that men and women working together will bring out the best results. One unit I’ve seen has a male Committee Chair and a female Scoutmaster – because that is what works best for them.

        There is another unit where woman are only allowed to do certain things – on the committee – but not be leaders. This unit is based in a very traditional catholic setting. They voted to allow my husband and me to be a part of this. I was pleased and surprised.

        My husband was changing troops (the old troop had new young leaders who were not happy to have people with experience around – they felt they had to constantly seek approval), and he clicked with the COR and SM for this new troop. There was some question about me, because they were worried that I would take over (I actually work on the District level and the Council level). I was appreciative that they were accepting of me (the first time for a female), but I have not pushed or prodded.

        I just come when they need me (as a merit badge counselor, driver, Commissioner questions) and have felt welcome, when I was sure that would not be the case. As the first female accepted as a trained adult leader, I make sure that I do what I am suppose to do, and I do not push a ‘feminine agenda’ because I want those who come after me to be accepted without them thinking ‘female’. I have enjoyed camping and working with the men and the youth – it has been a real positive feeling.

      • I see nothing in this post to cause a down vote. I’m beginning to wonder if people just don’t hit the down vote for the fun of it. For goodness sake…if you are going to down vote at least have the courage to comment on WHY you are doing so. I saw nothing negative in this post.

  14. I have worked with many women and men Scoutmasters. A good Scoutmaster is a good Scoutmaster whether it be a woman or a man. But there are some differences.

    Women Scoutmasters tend to worry about a male role model and hence are more apt to let the older boys set the example.

    Women Scoutmasters tend to feel they need more training and as a result may get much better trained. As a result, many of these women Scoutmasters become excellent trainers.

    In the 90’s many old time Scouters would scratch their head when they saw a woman Scoutmaster. However, this resistance to change diminished as the women proved themselves. What was interesting was when these women became eligible to join the OA. Again there was resistance among some older Scouters, but again, as the women proved themselves, these men stepped aside.

    The Scouting program today is more Scouting oriented and less macho oriented and that is good. When today’s Scouts become tomorrow’s leaders, they realize they will be working with many talented female leaders.

  15. When me and my son first joined the troop (Having transfered from another council) I thought nothing about going on the first campout as a women leader. (I was Wood Badge trained in the other council). It wasn’t until we got to the campout and were sitting around the campfire that the other male leaders admitted that I was the first female leader to ever go on a campout with the troop….It seemed strange to them at the time but they were welcoming. Now 7 years later we have more female leaders in the troop then male. Having said that….being a single mom I wanted my boys to have good strong male role models in their lives so appreciated having a male Scoutmaster to guide my sons with strong well trained female leaders to support the troop.

  16. I don’t think the position of Scoutmaster, or any volunteer position in Scouting should depend on a persons gender. And you shouldn’t be second choice in an “only if there are no men available” mentality either. If you have the training and experience to do the job, do it and don’t let the neanderthals drag you down. All I’d say is make sure your training is up to date and take advanced training when you can. The same advice I’d give any volunteer leader. I know a woman who is quite possibly the best Scoutmaster I’ve known. Certainly among the top 5. And I know another woman who on could step into the roll and be successful in a blink if the troop she is associated with didn’t already have a long serving Scoutmaster. (Me). Would it be right to deprive our youth of this talent and dedication simply because of their gender? The roll of Scoutmaster needs to depend on who can do the job the best, and help our youth succeed the best. Not on their gender.

  17. I think most of us in Scouting can agree that we have all witnessed, if not fallen victim to ourselves, the Merit Badge production mentality wherein the unspoken goal of the local Scout program becomes to churn out Merit Badges and gain rank, and the greater goal of building a Scout is lost in the process. Being a Scout means more than a full Merit Badge sash or rank; those are what result from the process of “becoming” a good Scout, not vice versa. A young Boy Scout cannot develop into a young man without the leadership, mentorship and guidance of other men around him. He is a male and has a role in society to fill for which Scouting delivers a strong platform. No woman can be a male for a young boy. For that matter, no man can be a female for a young woman; that is, he cannot behave like a lady, talk like a lady, or mentor a young girl into becoming a lady. He cannot pass along to a young girl those attributes which will strengthen her as a contributing female to society. Nor should he be expected to. Likewise, a woman cannot be expected to do similarly for a young boy. Key developmental progress is lost in the absence of a committed male figure in the mentoring of a young man. As for all of the women Scoutmasters who have stood in the gap when no male was available or willing, GOOD ON YOU! I applaud you and your example. Young boys need a committed, loving adult in their lives to shepherd and mentor them regardless of gender. Thank you for your sacrifice.

    • This seems to assume the Scoutmaster is the only leader / role model in the unit. A unit with ONLY female leadership would certainly fail in the ways you describe, but there is no reason that a female Scoutmaster can’t help the boys succeed in the same ways that a mother does – and not all boys have mothers.

      • Would you prefer a troop die? We had trouble getting 2 deep just to do scouting events, put aside the issue of LEADERSHIP. Our SM quit suddenly. I was ASM. It was not my priority. I attended 75% of meetings and all events not conflicting with my horse show schedule. While at a horse meeting, I came back to pick up my kid and was told I was SM. I went into battle with only a year’s experience (other than 6 years of cub stuff).

        Sometimes there simply aren’t male leadership available. The parents were fantastic…they just were not campers and would not commit to any kind of leadership. Health problems, family life, etc. made them say no.

        I tried year after year to get someone to step in. When I got involved in OA I wanted to step down and do more with OA. But I stayed for 3 more years. The end is a complicated story I won’t go into here.

        Absolutely, we need males there, but we need females too. And sometimes there may not be a choice. And besides, how many single parent families out there, both male and female. I think most of them (including me) would be pissed off at anyoe saying we didn’t do a good job….or at least tried. And sometimes the other presence is not necessarily a good one for the kid….in my case, an abusive, druggie, alcoholic father. Hardly a good male representation. Every situation is different.

        • How on earth did you get that I want to see a troop die?!?!? Of course it shouldn’t! And I clearly stated support for having female Scoutmasters. And in a whole BUNCH of earlier comments, which is probably why this one was so short.

          Or are you thinking Moms don’t encourage their sons in all sorts of ways, and in all sorts of things? As a single mom, you should know better – and I even referenced single parents! (from my post – “there is no reason that a female Scoutmaster can’t help the boys succeed in the same ways that a mother does – and not all boys have mothers”)

          But you said the same thing the OP and I did – which is that boys need males involved in the program!

          And why so many votes down? I’ll admit – it should have said COULD with a C, not a W, but really all those dislikes for a typo?

        • I didn’t vote either way on your post I don’t think. It doesn’t tell you who voted which way and sometimes I forget if I voted or not. I just commented. And I apologize if I misread your meaning. So many people, men and women on here appearing to say only men can show what it’s like to be a male. Of course we can’t do everything a man can. But we can give them a perspective from a female point of view. We had males in our troop, they just weren’t ACTIVE in the troop.

          About votes, I commented many times earlier that I swear people vote DOWN just for the fun of it, because I saw many posts that there’s no way anyway could see anything negative in those posts and yet they got down votes, lots of them.

          My comment about there being so many down votes (on the ‘good’ posts) GOT DOWN VOTES! What’s up with that?

  18. Gender should not be an issue for someone to be a positive role model, unfortunately there is still some form of discrimination with a handful of units that have problems with women, I am proud to call some of the female Scoutmasters in my area great leaders.

    • I commend you – assuming in your area it is not an issue. But don’t be deceived. Sexism is alive and well in America. Against men as sole guardians, and against women in any kind of leadership role in anything – aka pay almost always less.

      Until the world understands that ethics, morality, kindness, abilities, etc etc etc have no sex, we will have sexism.

  19. Boys need good female role models too. As adults, they will be co-workers, husbands, and fathers to daughters some day. I think there is great benefit for them in seeing adult women do things other than drive them to scouts, cook, take care of a home and teach school. My kids don’t come to work with me so they don’t see what I do when I am not “mom”. On a campout or at a PLC meeting, they get to see women doing things that they don’t usually see them do. There a lots of women who love scouting and love the outdoors and would rather have a needle in the eye than be fundraising chair. It is a poor use of enthusiastic volunteers to overtly or implicitly limit those women to committee jobs.
    I have heard of affairs between male and female leaders etc. It happens in the office, in neighborhoods and apparently also in scouting. To those selfish women and men who can’t keep their personal love lives out of scouting, shame on you. You make it really hard on the rest of us to make a better scouting program for our sons.

    • Who on earth would do a thumbs down! And I agree…even in my horse clubs the one thing I do not do (well – 2 things – all related)….is FUNDRAISE and be treasurer. I couldn’t sell GS cookies as a kid! Who doesn’t love GS cookies! And this is when you didn’t have to wait for them…we CARRIED THEM WITH US! I simply suck at asking for money. Good reason I’m not a car salesman, lol.

      Everyone has their own talents and desires. SM’s (whether male or female) should tap into those resources and use each person for what they WANT to do.

  20. Women can do the job. But we are really asking the wrong question. This program is not really about the adults, their wants or their feelings. It is about the youth. This program has a beautiful design and women are a part of it. They are indispensable in the Cub program due the age of the children. When the children get older they are beginning to want more challenges and they need a male role model. They need to see themselves in the Scoutmaster. It reinforces what they are trying to become. BSA spends a lot of time trying to be politically correct, but I believe it is at the cost of the children sometimes. This is not meant to be offensive to women. Personally I feel if a man won’t stand up and do the job we have no choice if we are going to provide the program, but it’s not the way the program was designed. Every time we compromise with the original design of the program the children and our society lose.

    • The main point is getting the men to step forward and doing it. Lack of outdoors skills or working with groups are usually at the top of the list for men. This leaves the Troops with no option but to place women in this position. The Scoutmaster is the leader of the Troop and males micromanage as well as females, which is not needed. Boy Led troops cannot afford micromanagers.

    • Single mothers like myself need those male role models for their sons (and gentle reminders to let them do.) But on the flip side, I was taken back when told how well mannered my son was as it they were surprised. Later I understood that for some scouts coming from single parent families, mine is a rare treat in practicing courtesy thus a treat to for leaders in not having to constantly watch over and constantly discipline.

      • My mom remarried and while my first step-dad had some okay qualities, he really wasn’t the best role model for me. I have to admit that Scouting for many years served as a place of safety where I could get away from the arguing/fighting and just be a kid. My Scoutmaster and several other leaders in my first Troop, realized that things weren’t going well at home. And while, I never directly came out about the issue, there was an understanding that me staying from the very start of the Scout function to the very end was much better for me. This lead to me not being advised to cut back on participation.

    • This is why we need to have topics that discuss things people think are old news… because obviously there are people out there that still have not gotten with the program. Here’s a clue: when you have to say, “this is not meant to be offensive”, it usually is.

      “It’s at the cost of the children” to have a female scoutmaster? But they are good enough “in the Cub program due to the age of the children”? And since we compromised the “original design of the program” …(which must be males only, of course)…. “the children and society lose”.

      WOW. Did I really just read all that? Who knew women all around the world were failing children and failing society because we are trying to lead them in scouting!

      Did you ever think maybe it’s a good idea to have a female role model? To show that a woman can do anything a man can do? That maybe you need to treat women with respect as well? That amazingly, gender doesn’t determine knowledge, strength, or commitment to a cause? That it DOESN’T MATTER what your color, your religion, or your gender is, you CAN be in scouts and be a good leader? (Someday I’d love to add orientation in there as well!)

      So sorry you see women being in this role only if you have “no choice”. Here’s hoping someday you see the error of your ways. There are many wonderful talented women in this world that volunteer their time and resources to help better the youth of today for no other reason than simply because children are our future. And they want to help make the future as good of a place as possible.

      • To add to Mary’s comments..
        We also model for Scouts proper and courteous adult interactions between genders as role models when females are leaders. In the line of ‘Prepared. For Life.’, Scouts will have female bosses rather than males so what better place to learn than in Scouting.

      • Sadly, his attitude is one I battle with off and on – and I think it comes into play more with the ‘older’ ones like me than the younger ones. Luckily, his mindset is rare in our council, but it is still there.

        I’m an NRA/BSA range officer and pistol/rifle/shotgun instructor. Have been NRA and 4-H shooting instructors for 4 decades. This is not new to me. I was range officer for cub camp for 3 years. But even now I still run into the attitude of ‘why is a female taking this role’. UH, could it be I’m well-trained! Having been in the military, raised in a gun family, and am currently a sheriff trained armed security officer?

        Recently, I was on a job and needed to run by the council office in full uniform including my weapon. The executives there had this astonished look on their face and said…..’wow, I guess you really ARE well trained!’. DUH again. But I just said to them….all you had to do was ask or check.

      • I expected such a response. But the question focused on here is about the adults isn’t it. This is not the Adult Scouts of America we are talking about. We should be focused on the child’s experience. I am just saying a male role model after age 11 is a better choice. A female leader for ages under 11 is a better choice. This is the way the program was originally set up and I believe someone wiser than I am designed the program. I happen to agree with the original design. I understand everyone today has “rights” and can disrespect everyone that came before them because we are so unevolved in our thought. Enjoy your rights. When I was a scoutmaster women served in every other role associated with the unit and we were much better off for it. I am sorry I stepped on your need to lead.

        • “I am sorry I stepped on your need to lead.”

          It appears to be you who has a need to tell someone else that they are not a suitable leader. Or to put qualifiers on it to match your experience or world views.

          I respect your experiences for what they were. But I am grateful for any qualified adult who is willing to step forward and make a difference.

        • “I understand everyone today has “rights” and can disrespect everyone that came before them because we are so unevolved in our thought.”

          Again, WOW. So now, we’re unevolved because we think women should be treated equal and we’re being disrespectful for standing up for equality? And treating people unfairly has no effect on our kids then, right?

          I know what you’re saying, and it’s sexist. It’s your opinion and you have the right to have it, so enjoy it likewise. As they say, ignorance is bliss. I do find it intriguing though, how you know how “the program” was intended back in the early 1900s. Even thought, cub scouts and boy scouts are two different programs, and cub scouts was originally led by a boy scout den chief. You must have first hand knowledge from Boyce or Baden-Powell on their visions for scouting 100 years into the future? Because obviously, they would want all young men to be that “unevolved” in their thinking that only they, and not women, are capable of leading other boys once they turn 12. Yes, that must be it; let’s all just stay Neanderthals.

          But it’s all about the children right? So here’s my “evolved” opinion – I would never want any child, young or old, being led by someone with such a bigoted point of view. No disrespect. But it’s that type of thinking and treatment of women (or insert minority group of your choice here) that has a direct impact on our children and our future, so keep in mind, your actions speak louder than your words. And children pick up on that.

          Good luck to you sir in whatever you do in scouting. I hope someday the scout law lifts you to higher level of evolution in your day-to-day dealings with those that are different than you. No apologies needed on my role in being an effective leader.

        • Mary I’ll let it rest after this but you have misread what I wrote regarding the “unevolved” item. I was referring to the way folks look at the people like myself that respect the differences between men and women and what they bring to the table working with young boys.

          I opened my original comment with “Women can do the job…” That’s a given. I am old enough to have seen the program run primarily by men, and I have seen the transition to the more liberalized program that it is today. I have read as much as I could find on the early books regarding Baden Powell and I have always regarded his vision as being a good one. I have seen great women contributors, Vigils in the OA, Silver Beavers, Woodbadgers and the like. Their contributions have strengthened the organization. I just don’t understand the preoccupation with the need to be the scoutmaster.

          I would much rather see a woman run a troop, than not have a unit. Someone put the question out on the table and expected everyone to fall in line to see if their were any “unevolved” folks out there like me. I guess there aren’t many left. We just need to change the name to Scouting Association of America and let everyone in to do as they wish.

        • The “right” scout leader is not male or female, gay or straight, of one color or heritage or orientation or another. it’s a person who can guide and lead scouts to become better citizens, stewards of the Earth, parents, community members, and leaders.

          None of those qualities can come from someone who is bigoted, sexist, racist, or homophobic, among other things. Those are not the values of scouting. People with those outlooks on life certainly can roam the Earth, but they shouldn’t be Scouters or in any way working with kids….

          Women Scouters, you are needed and wanted. Please stay, volunteer, and share your leadership. Ignore those who say you can’t or shouldn’t.

        • Thank you, mary, you said it all. Steve, you ASSUME that your troop was better for having you there versus a woman. Maybe so, I don’t know, but I think it’s a little chest thumping going on there even if it is true. Is this your opinion or the opinion of the troop. You sound a little like a King. All my underlings will be whatever I allow them to be but never King. Oh well, I’m just glad I’m not in your troop which I’m sure you feel the same.

        • So why isn’t a man a good choice for ages under 11? Men do their part to make the children and God expects them to do their part in bringing them up. One of the reasons that the country is this state is because men are not being men.

  21. I am a female Scoutmaster, I have been for about 3 months now. I have come across people in my unit and in other units in my council, district as well as other councils and districts that have problems with this. I simply justify it as this…..I have 15 years in scouting as I am a parent of 2 boys and have held many roles in the scouting program (I could list them, but they are too many). I was an assistant SM for 5 years prior to this new role. the boys are behind me 100% and some have told their parents that if I am asked to step down they will go where I go. I believe that with the proper training anyone can be a great SM and that if the boys believe in you that is really all that matters. for those who don’t believe a woman can fill the position I allow you your opinion, but don’t judge the rest of the world because they have moved into the current century and support progress and change.

    • “the boys are behind me 100%” ……Isn’t the program about “the boys”? And not the adult “drama”.

    • Situation arose in our troop. Long story. Short version. Charter put COR in that our troop kicked out of our troop as SM due to emotional and verbal abuse 6 years earlier. Troop wouldn’t tolerate it. CO wouldn’t back down. Because I fought them they removed me. Boys and parents said if I left, they did too. I didn’t want them to. Wanted them to try to work it out. NOPE. All boys and parents signed a form telling the charter the troop was dead. This charter was such an asshole they wouldn’t let us take the charter with us to a different CO. Our troop had been there for more than 50 years. Lots of bitterness going on from all the boys and parents…and me…2 years later. PS: Part of the issue is that I was female, and it was stated as such.

      • They, the Charter, should thank you for making sure that they were not ‘sued’ for the verbal and emotional abuse. With the new YP Champion training, that SM would have been removed any way. All it would take is 2 or 3 reports (they are called Incident or Near Miss Reports) from the scouts and parents and that unit would have been in trouble anyway. With all of the lawsuits against the BSA, they should be happy to not have to worry about that happening, instead of cancelling the charter.

        • Thank you, but they didn’t cancel the charter, they kept it. That’s the issue. We wanted to take our charter to different CO. But since the CO OWNS THE TROOP and everything attached to it we were not even allowed to go to another CO and keep our own number and our equipment. BTW: Our trailer was stolen the year before and we had nothing but what fantastic troops around us and some local stores donated to us. We were still trying to come back from the devastation. They kept everything (we as adult members who donated or loaned stuff to the troop did NOT let them have those items). They keep saying they are going to start back up. Good luck with that. #1 – we were small and struggled just keeping 5-8 boys and occasionally adding 1. With the bad publicity and no pool to pull new kids in, it will never happen. Very sad because my dad STARTED this troop in the 50’s. Made me cry. But they didn’t care.

      • I notice several down votes in relation to my comments, your comments, and my response. I’m thinking some people on here don’t want to hear the nasty side of BSA and/or sexism. What’s that old saying ‘truth hurts’?

        that’s ok, down votes won’t stop me from saying the truth. Thanks again for your comments. Too bad we can’t see who it is that is down and/or up voting like on some forums. I guess it’s the safety issue, maybe they are afraid we will stalk each other, lol!

        One guy on the ‘new God’ rule for BSA forum is literally every other post with the name of THOR, lol. And yes, I find myself responding. I have started not even opening those e-mails so I won’t respond, lol.

  22. One of the female members of my WB patrol already was an ASM. She had been to Philmont and Northern Tier, and may have been to Sea Base by now. She’s still very active at the troop, district and council level. A great role model for all in Scouting.

  23. I think it is important to have a positive male roll model serve as a scoutmaster, as long as that person is an effective leader. Many boys come to scouting just for that purpose. I know many sons of single mother’s who do not have that positive roll model in their lives. That being said, there are many troops that do not have that male to step up, get trained and provide that leadership.

    I feel it is also appropriate for those women who are trained and ready for the responsibility of a scoutmaster to take on that roll as well. In today’s society many of us at some point will be supervised by a woman. What a better way for a young man to learn to respect women in leadership rolls than to have a strong positive mother in their lives as well as a strong positive scoutmaster who is a female.

  24. I am the only female Assistant Scoutmaster in my troop but we always invite all parents who want to help on a camp out to come along. I usually am the only female though (we don’t have a lot of adventurous moms!) I started out as committee chair but since I enjoy camping and youth development, I started going on camp outs when we couldn’t find enough adult leadership. I decided that I enjoyed working on skills instruction far more than organizing the next fundraiser. When we had

    Since I know what goes on in the committee and ‘in the troop’, I end up being the main point of contact for both boys and parents for a lot of things (doesn’t hurt that my son is an Eagle Scout so “I’ve been there, done that”). Personally I don’t have a desire to be the Scoutmaster but I have recently started a Venture Crew and am the Advisor so I guess I’m not really getting away from being a scoutmaster in a sense.

    I do think that men and women being different things to the table and troops can benefit by being accepting of all volunteers- there’s plenty of work to go around for all volunteers!

  25. I’m all for women as scout leaders and am glad for any adult willing to step up to mentor our scouts. But…

    In general there is a different mentality between dads and moms. It’s not universal but in general it exists. Moms want to protect their boys more than dads do. Dads are more willing to let them take physical chances and challenge themselves more. Moms are often more cautious. I’ve watched women scout leaders restrain the boys more than the men do. This isn’t always a bad thing since we men tend to not grow up completely and let our sons do some crazy things but it is a difference and one that makes a difference.

    Much of our sons’ world is about curtailing what used to be a traditional boyhood. Yes, there are negative aspects to boys will be boys but we’ve cut out many of the positive aspects of it while trying to rid ourselves of the negative ones. Milenia of boys growing to manhood in certain ways did not happen by accident.Scouting incorporated many of these ideas and it’s important that we don’t lose all of it. Some women get that, some don’t. And to be fair, there are men who don’t as well but most who will step up to be scout leaders tend to do so so their sons can experience things we did as youths and in ways that society today often does not want to admit are necessary for boys.

    • I guess I’m the exception to your perception, lol. I’m the one that is laid back and as long as they aren’t killing each other, breaking one of the scout laws, or do something inherently dangerous, and doing their ‘assigned’ duties…aka cooking/cleaning/etc…..then I pretty much leave them alone.

      I have a slow fuse. But believe me, you don’t want to see what that fuse does when it hits the dynamite. And it’s usually related to safety.

      Quick story. Campout – on a river – doing service to a cave. 2 young crossovers, not swimmers. Older boys swimmers. One cross over would not follow the buddy system, would not come out of his tent to do ‘assigned’ duties, and would run off to the river. He was NOT a swimmer in any way, shape or form. More than once, I had to go chasing after him (the river was about 1/4 mile through rough terrain). It had rained, everybody was bitchy.

      I cuss, but never in front of the boys (ok, give me a break, they have all heard it if not used it but not appropriate on a scout event). By the end of that campout I was at the end of my rope. My voice was raised (which it never is), and my words were sharper.

      To give you an idea of how different I was…one of the older boys asked my grandson what happened to me. He said….you pushed too far. They had never seen me lose my temper, yell at them, etc in 5 years. But in this particular instance, it wasn’t about being nit-picky. It was about life and death. No room for ‘boys will be boys’ in this instance.

      • I had plenty of women classmates at West Point and served with plenty of women who would be exceptions to the general rule. 🙂

        Several of us assistant scoutmasters camped together both in scouts and as families and it’s always fun to see the difference in the freedom the boys had with the scouts vs family camping with mom around especially when they were younger. It was also interesting to watch some of the troops at summer camp with women leaders who did fit the general observation.

        • When some of my grandkids (I’m up to 14 now….good Lord did I just admit that, lol) came down for visitation night at camp, I allowed them to climb the climbing wall which is 60′ tall and has 4 sides each one with different methods of climbing. I thought the parents were going to KILL me, lol. I had to reinforce to them that it was a confidence building task. And there was no way they could fall. YEP, they could do a face plant, and my 6 year old grandaughter did. Did she cry? Nope, but it did look like someone punched her in the nose, lol. BTW: I climb the wall, too, and I hate it when they take pics, because all climbing pics obviously are from BEHIND which is definitely NOT my best side.

          If I could post a pic I would post a hysterical one of that 6 year old climbing in a dress and flip flops! And she made it to the top.

    • At summer camp, the boys kept freaking out about spiders and daddy long legs in their tents. The adult men tried talking to them, no difference.

      But when a WOMAN not only calmly showed them the beautiful, perfect spider web at the entrance to her tent AND the big spider hanging out at the back, but then proceeded to enter said tent and take a nap without disturbing the spiders or fussing about it? Suddenly, the teenage boys were able to suck it up and handle the spiders.

      The simple fact of having a woman there doing things can make a huge impact on teenage boys. Particularly since, as several have noted, many moms are NOT the way you expect – and the ones who aren’t are, in my experience, the ones who want to be active on the “outing” side of Boy Scouting.

  26. While I do think women can be excellent Scoutmasters, I think it would generally be preferable to have a male Scoutmaster, for many of the reasons already mentioned.

    I think the real issue is that too many men won’t step up and be the leaders they should be, especially in their homes, but also in the BSA. Pollard’s quote sums it up; women “have been doing these things for the Boy Scouts because they could not get a male leader.” Too many men don’t lead their families, and too many men won’t get involved with Scouting. Shame on them!

    With that said, our troop has a male Scoutmaster. We also have women in many active support roles, including ASM. All are treated the same as male leaders. We’re fortunate to have many active adult leaders of both genders.

    • I will let the ‘males should be SM’s’ pass. I WON’T let the ‘males should lead the family’ pass. Husbands and wives are a TEAM! No one leads! That is just so wrong on so many levels, it makes my skin crawl. I lived with a man with that attitude (along with alcohol, drugs and wife abuse), and he’s just lucky he’s not 6′ under today!

  27. Rather than debate your question, I’d rather talk about my personal experience. I stepped into the Scoutmaster role when a Lifer Scouter passed away unexpectedly that August. The unit was also on the verge of folding. I’m also Deaf with excellent communication skills yet fluent in ASL.

    Was I a good Scoutmaster? Nah. The woman being Scoutmaster now is.
    Did I learn anything in my Scoutmaster role? YES!! I honestly didn’t know all that Scoutmasters did and more when I went through with my son years ago, nor did I fully understand what Patrol Method of BOY-LED was all about. My son’s Troop had patrol method but it wasn’t ‘boy-led’ as Baden Powell intended!

    I even learned some valuable life lessons too when trying to give so much to the Troop on my strengths and my weaknesses (and my wallet).

    But I sometimes things can’t be measure in success for the whole but rather for the individual. Being a Deaf Scouter who is ASL fluent yet experienced with ScOUTING, I was able to help another Deaf family understand many different aspects via ASL and make their ScOUTING better than what mine own was by providing scripts for Courts of Honors, interpreters for trainings and more. I never had what they had and never knew how to get interpreters until my second stint through Cub Scouting after my son was done. The net is a valuable tool or resources. Deaf families can offer more to units that one think if takes a bit of time to close the communication gaps. Can even teach valuable life long effective communication skills for everyone involved and different approach to communication that can benefit other but are too afraid to tak about.

  28. While gender does not matter in the slightest as far as ability to perform the role of scoutmaster . . .

    It’s important to be aware that adolescent boys will behave differently with female leaders than with male leaders – this is neither good, nor bad, it is simply a fact.

    Sandra needs to determine in advance (although she need not share her decision) how much “boys will be boys” behavior she will tolerate. She also needs to be aware that sometimes some of the boys will put up with things longer than they should in order that Sandra won’t perceive them as weak or “mama’s boys”

    Otherwise, a quick note that back in 1992-95 I was on district training staff, and one local troop was primarily led by women. They were, by a very large margin, the best trained adults in the district, because none of them had ever done anything like this before. The tradition continues — one of those ladies, who was in 1990 the first female Scoutmaster in our council, will be the Wood Badge Course director next summer (2015).

  29. I saw my first female SM at the ’93 Jamboree. I think she was from Oregon. I gave her a high 5 and we traded patches.

  30. Bryan, thanks for raising this and other issues about which there are still some entrenched attitudes from prior generations. For example, there were comments to your July 18 blog article, “Why aren’t female youth allowed in the Order of the Arrow?” along the lines of “women can do a lot of things, but they can’t teach a boy to be a man.” I see echoes of such attitudes in the comments here. It’s the 21st century, folks. Having lived through the 1960s and 1970s, it is hard to believe that the Boy Scouts of America remained so slow to accept the changes to American society that we didn’t have a female Scoutmaster until 1988! And then it took another 25 years — another generation — for, well, you know.

    • I have known a lot of young men raised by single mothers who were never involved in male-led extracurricular activities. Their mothers DID teach them how to be men. And did a really good job of it too!!

  31. Our troop has an unwritten “no female Scoutmaster” policy, and to date nobody has challenged this as far as I am aware. The committee is 99.9% women. The ASM and SM positions have always been male. Women are tolerated but not encouraged on campouts, and there are comments regarding “mothering” made on a not infrequent basis. I don’t let any of this stop me from being involved to the extent that I feel my involvement is needed and valuable to the boys. I will say that when I do go on campouts, I keep further away from the boys than I might if I were male as I do feel my presence interferes with the freedom they need to be boys and do boy stuff. It’s not an ideal situation (especially when we have trouble getting dads to step up for leadership positions), but this troop has been around a long time and will be a long time after I am gone, and I have neither the desire nor the energy to pick this particular battle.

    • I am the only female in our troop that camps. In my prior troop that died, I was SM for 4 years and ASM for 1. And I was the only ‘constant’ on any of the events.

      The boys and I connect. They include me in their card games, they ask me to take part in their activities. The other leaders aren’t excluded…they just don’t take part.

      I’m proud that they consider me a friend. And yes, before you ask, they definitely respect me, and they know not to cross a certain boundary of behavior. They don’t feel at all kept from saying what they feel. Occasionally, something they say will make them do a double-take to me (guilty look you know)…. and most times I tell them I grew up in a male oriented background. Nothing you say will embarrass me, on the other hand, if it’s something inapproriate, I will reprimand them.

  32. The commitment and the persons integrity are the items which should be considered. Anyone who passes that test would be a good candidate. Women are welcome.
    Doug Nance
    Troop 848

  33. I am LDS. My district is dominated by LDS units. I’m also the cubmaster of a non-demonational community pack.

    Most of the graduating boys from my pack feed to a community pack led by a female scoutmaster. That troop sets the standard for participation and enthusiasm in our area. The boys are active and engaged. While the LDS troops spend a couple hours gathering food in their wards, the community troop mans stations at two grocery stores all day long. The female scoutmaster was honored with the Silver Beaver just this year. I was shocked she hadn’t already received it.

    Sex doesn’t have anything to do with qualifications. It’s all about willingness to serve.

    • Being LDS I just wanted to ask if what I said on an earlier post was true? My LDS friend was Cubmaster but she wanted to be active as a leader when her boys crossed to a troop. But she told me she would not be allowed to do so, that LDS troops only allow men in leadership roles in troops. Is this true or was she misled?

      • I am not LDS but as a District Commissioner I am learning about the LDS units. https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/english/young-men/35814_scout-handbook_eng.pdf?lang=eng is a good resource for understanding more about the LDS Scouting program. It does state, “Women do not serve as leaders for young men of Aaronic Priesthood age but may chair or serve on Scouting committees.” Aaronic Priesthood age is 12-18 or Boy Scout/Varsity Scout/Venturing ages.

        • MT-Momma. While there are no Boy Scout leadership positions in the LDS Church for women in scouting such as Scoutmasters, Assistant Scoutmasters, 11yr old leaders, Cub masters, there certainly are positions as Den Leaders and committee positions for women. The Church Doctrine does not allow any female Priesthood in the Church therefor only men are allowed hold the Priest hood of the Church this may be hard for non-members of the Church to understand but it is the Church Doctrine and the women understand and except these gospel principles that moves this Church forward. Women are basically in charge of the Women’s Relief Society and the Young Women’s program of the Church even then there is a male Priesthood overseeing the programs. This is also a male Priesthood overseeing the Primary program which oversees children up to 12 years of age in the Church with a Priesthood advising the program. The Young Women over 12 years old do have camping and scout like activities as overnight camping and white river rafting. I personally work with the women in the primary scouting program as the Stake 11 yr. leader advisor over the 11yr. old male Assistant Scoutmasters and advisor to the Primary women Presidency. Thank you for posting the Scouting Handbook as it is the guidelines for Scouting in the Church. I can also see the desire of some women in the Church to hold Boy Scout positions however the Church does offer many other opportunities for scouting that women can hold. The Church have women directors of Cub Scout Day Camp opportunities every year and the LDS women are in charge of organizing and planning the activities and they do a great job. MT_ Momma Thanks for your interest in LDS Scouting. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • The LDS Church uses Scouting specifically as the activity arm of their program for young men. The Church has a comparable (non-Scouting) program for young women. LDS doctrine teaches that men and women are equal, but have distinct roles in an eternal family. The division of role extends to how church units execute Scouting. As far as scout leadership, scoutmasters & asst. scoutmasters are exclusively men, however, mothers are actively encouraged to be active members of the troop committee.

        I highly recommend you look at the LDS Scouting Handbook (easy google search) for a clear understanding of church policies related to scouting.

        • Thank you for explaining. I know all churches are different, and families learn to follow the doctrines of their individual churches.

          I grew up in the women’s lib movement, even though I’m Baptist (southern baptist). So, I personally would have a problem with that.

          But I’m not dissing LDS AT ALL, I have many friends who are. It’s just too strict for me, I grew up in a male atmosphere, and was always a Tom Boy…so ‘girl’ related activities never appealed to me and the more challenge/danger there was the more I wanted to do it.

          One year at camp we only had 2 leaders with 5 boys. We were legal. But small troop so we were combined at the campsite with another troop, LDS.

          One of our boys got hurt so he and his dad went home. That left ONE leader for 4 boys.

          The LDS troop stepped up and stood in for us to be our additional leaders so our whole troop would not have to leave. They were wonderful.

          Plus, 3 of the 4 boys were sons of daniel boone and we go to Big Surf on Thursdays during camp. What to do with the 4th boy who could not go but needed to complete badge work.

          AGAIN the fantastic LDS troop stepped up, so again, our boys would not lose out. I kidded them when I got back and asked if they were ready to kill him, lol….and they said they loved him and would take him any time.

          To pat our troop on the back…..had he been an obnoxious brat like some of the boys (luckily not many) over the years they would probably never offer their services again. This kid was very respectful. And the LDS troop didn’t seem TOO surprised that I was the SM, lol.

          But again, thanks for educating me. I love to learn about other religions.

  34. Because I have expressed the archaic view the boys need positive male role models and that has placed my perspective in the “old school”, this program is still not about our adult feelings, wishes, and wants. For the record, my wife accompanied me on most campouts when I was a scoutmaster. She was a civilizing influence and many of the younger boys were comforted by knowing there was a woman on the campout. I can say from experience when there is a woman in camp the dynamic of the experience changes for the boys. (They were actually a little better behaved.) I would say that it would be equivalent to being raised in a family of only boys to a family with boys and girls. Not only did my wife accompany the troop on it’s outdoor activities, often other women committee members that were spouses of leaders in the troop accompanied us. I don’t know why a woman would normally want to assume a role where a male role model is needed, but we do seem to have a shortage of men stepping up. I have no issues with women contributing to the Boy Scout program, but I would encourage them to allow a male to lead if they are available and competent.

    • There’s nothing wrong with needing positive male role models but that doesn’t mean it has to be at the expense of positive female role models. By purposely stating that a woman should step aside and let a man lead instead, that is the exact opposite of being a positive role model.

      Why should a woman have to step aside? Why can’t we hold the same position as men do? Why wouldn’t we want to lead for the exact same reasons a man would want to lead? Because I guarantee you, my reasons are close to, if not the same as yours.

  35. My husband is a former Scoutmaster, and one summer at camp he met a troop with only female leaders. Because this is pretty unusual, he got to talking with them. Turns out that until recently the troop had a majority of male leaders. But the troop was based out of Joint Base Lewis McChord, and all the male Scout leaders had been deployed. The moms, not wanting the troop to fizzle, took over all the roles. And by all accounts, the troop was thriving.

  36. I am aware of two troops in the 1980s who had a paper Scoutmaster and a female ASM who fulfilled all the SM functions- district was aware of it; no one seemed to have issues.

    My current troop had a female ASM. She came up from Cub Scouting with her sons and was a good ASM. She later became our district executive and is now the district director. She is very enthusiastic and effective.

    During my Army days, I was a BSA Scoutmaster in Germany. We participated in many activities with German Scout groups. There are several organizations but they are split by religion, not gender- all are gender integrated. The culture is different, but youth are the same. It was interesting the first time I realized that boys and girls slept together as a patrol in a big black tent (khote).

    Some studies show that separating by gender aids in education, other studies show the opposite. It seems to me that in some ways gender is less important today. The BSA has made many changes over my 40 years and I expect more over my remaining decades.

  37. At the risk of getting beat up, here goes nothing.

    If we can have female scoutmasters, why then can we not have female SPLs? I sort of see this as a double standard, and yes I know leaders are different, but why adult female leaders and not female scouts? I never understood this and I have never heard a good explanation for why other than citing current scouting regulations which doesn’t help the argument at all.

    • Now, this answer relates to the reasons I was given PRIOR to BSA’s sweeping decision last year, but here goes. It relates to that.

      I was told that because GS’s allowed gays, then it did not fit with the moral standards of the BSA. Simple.

      But now that reasoning is mute. Wonder if anything will change now. Sure would save parents a lot of multi-tasking (ie: meetings and events – one for boy and one for girls).

      I don’t see it changing, though.

      the irony to me is that 4-H does it, no big deal. We have venture crews that do it, but cubs and scouts don’t.

      1. It would never be an issue with cubs or brownies….they already hate each other. The worry about any inproprities with 6-11 year olds is almost comical.

      2. Venturing crews are the ages that if there was going to be concern, that would be it…YOUNG ADULTS, well, as much as you can call 14-17 young adults, lol.

      To be frank, many girls I speak with are not GS because it’s ‘boring’. They want the high adventure and outdoorsy things that the boys do. When I grew up and went all the way to the GS equivalent of Eagle, it was WOMEN stuff. I look back and think how boring that was, but it was all there was, except 4-H, which during the 60’s was hardly any better. Girls were expected to do girl stuff and boys do boy stuff even though it was co-ed.

      But it’s 2 generations later. Times have changed, and I’m glad.

      • And in many other scouting programs around the world, boys’ and girls’ programs are integrated. They even sleep in tents together (in groups)… It’s just not the issue that people think it is. But, typical US-centric thought is that we know best and that we can’t ever learn from anyone else…

        • And in the US we have the only scouting assoc. where Scouting isn’t segregated along religious and/or ethnic lines. If you think that Europe’s balkanized scouting associations are more integrated because they’re coed, you don’t know what inclusive means.

        • Scouts Canada and Australia are integrated, as two examples. If you want a male dominated, Christian only, no girls, no gays, there is a niche group for that – Trial life formed when they couldn’t deal with the diversity of the BSA…

  38. I applaud anyone, male or female, who takes on the role of Scoutmaster. It’s a demanding job if you do it right, but one of the best volunteer jobs you’ll ever have. As a woman Scoutmaster I received my share of comments and even a letter telling me that I “should let a man be Scoutmaster,” as if there was a long line of men waiting to be a leader and I somehow prevented them from helping out. HA HA HA!!! The truth is, only one of my Scout’s fathers ever showed interest in camping out with us. My assistant Scoutmaster was a woman and together we made a fantastic team who made sure the boys got to do everything we could afford to do. I see many women Troop leaders and Scoutmasters every summer at camp. They are organized, diligent, resourceful, and great role models for everyone. Many have camping and hiking skills that would rival any male leaders’.

    My advise to a woman just starting with a Troop;
    Focus on the boys and what they need to do to advance and grow into young men.
    Ignore the stupid comments made by backward people who try to separate job duties by gender.
    Follow all BSA policies and guidelines to protect everyone involved.
    Encourage parents to help and participate.
    Do what you can to promote good public relations in your community.
    Do something special at least once a year with and for your charter sponsor. Ours was on Scout Sunday we took part in our charter sponsor’s worship and fellowship time.
    Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed. You might gain another leader in the process.
    When you see a parent or aunt or uncle who has a talent you can use, try to draw them in to help out even if you could do it yourself.
    Recognize the boys’ achievements at least 4 times a year with a Court of Honor. Make it a potluck to draw in more family and friends.
    Do things with other Troops several times a year.
    Go camping as often as you can.
    Have fun with your adult helpers and the boys!!! You will make life long friends.

  39. I find there is a bias against female scout leaders. Its actually my primary reason for attending Woodbadge, so I am viewed as an equal among my male counterparts.

  40. My post is about my wife, Debbie Kagawa.

    She became the Scoutmaster of a Troop with a total of 12 boys. This Troop was obviously in troubled. In four years, the Troop was 72 active strong and still is going strong today.

    Besides This, she has been a Wood Badge Course Director in 2005, in 2001 a First Assistant Scoutmaster for a Jamboree Troop, in 2005 a Scoutmaster for a Jamboree Troop and a Crew Advisor for a Jamboree Contingent Crew in 2013. She is also a Silver Beaver recipient and a Council Venturing Leadership Award when they were available to adults. She also lead a contingent of 100 venturing youth and adults for a week long trip to Hawaii.

    Who says women don’t belong in Scouting?

  41. A dear friend of mine, she is now our District Chair, was a Scoutmaster for her unit. She did a great job and the boys respected her. If any private issues (ones she felt she shouldn’t handle) came up she would ask the boy to talk to one of the male ASMs they trusted or would send them to one she knew would handle the issue. She followed YPT to the letter.

    • ” If any private issues (ones she felt she shouldn’t handle) came up she would ask the boy to talk to one of the male ASMs”
      Because her gender leaves a hole in her qualifications regardless of how much she camps.

      • No leader (good or bad) is able to handle all questions, situations or issues and needs to know how to leverage the skills and expertise of their team. I’m frankly not sure what kinds of issues are being referred to here, but if a boy is uncomfortable in discussing an issue with any leader, there are others to discuss them with, whether they are female, male, a similar religion, ethnic origin or what not. She was surely qualified for the role, as she directed them to a great resource to help them and got them whatever they needed.

  42. As a Girl Scout Service Unit Manager (volunteer), I am responsible for recruiting new GS volunteer leaders. Our recruiting locally suffers because many of the moms are already doing Boy Scouts. We do not get many dads wanting to do GS as a troop leader, only occasional helpers on badges and trips. I feel like GS and BS are drawing from the same pool of moms and it is frustrating.

  43. As a female Scoutmaster myself, I find that I actually have more difficulty in my career (primarily male IT field) being female than in the Boy Scouts. While I do have Scouts who try to challenge me, I don’t know if it is because of my gender or because they are teenagers. I camp, I go on High Adventure treks, I do what they do and they seem to respect that.

    • I think it’s kind of a ‘wow’ thing for the boys to see mom or any other female doing what they normally would see a male doing. Not that it’s anymore special than when a man does it, it just isn’t what they see mostly. And the older you are doing it, the more the WOW factor, lol. I get a kick out of the boys saying GRANDMA did it. For instance tubing at camp. I went last because I wanted to make sure all the boys got a turn. The key to when to switch riders was when the driver was able to dump the rider. I’m blowing my own horn here, but at 58 years of age they could NOT dump me. Time ran out, so they just pulled me back into camp on the tube and I jumped off in the cove and swam back into the waterfront. But waht they didn’t know is that I grew up on the lake and had been skiing, boating and tubing since I was 4 years old.

  44. “…is it possible for you to ask your readers their opinion on women being Scoutmasters?”
    The further we get away from an understanding of Scouting as an organization founded for specifics reasons to foster specific ideas and ideals, the more we mistake Scouting as a camping club and Eagle factory.
    Can women lead a solid program? Sure, women can take boys camping and teach them how to tie knots so they advance. If one mistakes Scouting as nothing more than a camping club or advancement factory, then that’s the end of that.
    But camping, advancement, etc.–the things we do–are methods, not our aims. Our aims are to create physically fit young men of character. We were founded by men on both sides of the Atlantic concerned with the state of boys, making aspirational models of masculinity out of inspirational men: Ernerst Thompson-Seton used the Native American brave, Dan Carter Beard the pioneers and founding fathers, Baden-Powell the knight and military.
    The point is to take “boys” (the 19th/early 20th c. term for what we now call “young men”) under the wing -of men- away from the eroding (physically and morally) effects of the cities and street packs out into the wild to teach them how to be strong, virtuous men as understood by men, which is a different ideal and understanding of men than women have.
    Can a woman do that? No.

    “Get with the times!” they say. The passage of time doesn’t change the fact that men and women -are- different, physiologically, emotionally, cognitively, and have different ideas of masculinity and of what a man should be. Different but not unequal, but suited better to some tasks.

    We say that boys are in crisis in America. They are. They are over-represented in special ed and medicated into catatonia by female-dominated schools which tolerate no noise, no motion–no boyhood. They are told that “men are rapists” and “men are violent.”

    They are increasingly fatherless, and fatherless boys are indeed more prone to crime, more prone to run in gangs, more prone to drug use, more prone to fail in school. Because masculinity is wrapped up in machismo and violence? No, because fatherless boys don’t know what masculinity is.

    That is why men serve best as Scoutmasters. Grown men best teach boys what it is to be a man, and the BSA aims to create men.

    • CG – That is exactly how I feel. Women can definitely run a solid program; however, they will never have the complete package. It’s extremely unfortunate to hear that so many troops are having trouble getting male leaders. Hate to see you are drawing so many negative comments.

      • I’d like to meet the Scouter who you describe as having “the whole package.” In my world, we work as a team in Scouting. It takes a whole group of us to have the package. That includes gender, sexuality, income, experience, ethnicity, religious perspectives, age, profession, etc. We pool our skills together. Expecting 1 person to always have the answer and be everything to everyone is only setting the troop up for failure. Leveraging skills and experiences, delegating, and knowing who to handle any given problem or task is what leadership is about, not what’s between their legs.

    • My lack of a penis only means that I can’t teach them how to pee on a tree. I have ASMs who are male and, while most are very capable, several would be lost trying to lead the program. My ability to follow the Scout Oath and Law and teach a boy that he has what it takes to “be a man” has nothing to do with gender. It’s has to do with being a good human being.

  45. My parents actually met at Woodbadge when I was about 7. Why did my mother go? Because somebody “higher up” than her in Scouting asked her very specifically to, as a single/divorced woman. Because she was a great Scouter!! She served on MANY Eagle boards of review, was a Cub leader in all three levels our unit had (no tigers), was on the committee and did advancement stuff and popcorn from 8-18. She became an “unofficial” assistant scoutmaster, because her camping skills outstripped those of the men.
    Many of the boys who she served back then are now men in their 20’s-30’s who have gone out of their way to find her address post-move to invite her to weddings, to send baby announcements, etc, etc. We ran into a boy who was in my parents’ Varsity group probably 15 years ago at the store not long ago and he said hi and hugged mom and thanked her before doing so with my step-dad, and had he not been standing right there may have only thanked mom. My mom’s great example, and that of other women in the district, as well as the men who worked with and respected them, have made me the scouter and human being I am today.
    I’m female and only in my 20’s, but I’ve already staffed Jamboree and Scout Fair events, been involved with OA, led Wolf dens, been a merit badge counselor, worked at camp, had Venturing leadership positions, and trained new leaders. I haven’t yet had opportunity to attend Woodbadge myself, but hope to do so in the near future.

  46. at summer camp, our troop was one of two community units, and all the rest were LDS. (LDS (Mormon) scoutmasters are “called” to serve for a year by the bishop and they are always men.) Almost all the LDS leaders were respectful & friendly towards me (being the ONLY female leader) – but a few were just rude and let me know that they did not think I had any business being there. One told me, “women who want to be men are causing the downfall of America” – however, I’m a woman who is happy to be female, so I guess it’s not me he was talking about!

    • Owl Lady Sorry about your bad experience with a few of the LDS Scoutmasters. I am not sure of the circumstances that brought on such rude behavior those Scout Leaders certainly did not represent the teachings and principles of the LDS Church. I would recommend these rude Scout Leaders revisit the mission of the Church and the principles of Scouting and its support of women in scouting. You had every right to be there and would be welcome to participate in any open camping activity in a Community sponsored camping event in our County. As far as the length of a Scoutmaster term in the Church it is not based on a year. I have been a Scoutmaster for 6 years and still serving the Church in that capacity. My Bishop told me just the other day that over the years some Church Leaders wanted to call me in a new position in the Church and that his recommendation was that I had a full plate and would be beneficial at what I was doing as Scoutmaster. I know of many that have served as Scoutmaster in the Church for more than a year. I cannot express enough of the outstanding contributions of women in Scouting. Owl Lady my critter for Woodbadge was an Owl does your name on the Bryans website represent your Woodbadge Patrol? Sincerely, Trenton

  47. OK, so I think everyone can agree that women are as good as men, Scouters or otherwise. I know there would be many a program that would have folded without the support of females & I’m glad they have done so. Sure there are plenty of women that can out do any man in outdoor skills, leadership or what ever. So what?

    BSA like any other organization has to ‘try’ to keep up with the times. But there has to be something said (affirmatively) for the traditions of the BSA & the OA. Some point is a point too far.

    So when will girls be allowed as members? Why not just cut to the chase? Let the girls in & change the name to Scouts of America. Why in the world would we continue this archaic fraternal institution anyway? Men are sooooooo flawed! I mean really, what value can there be in such a group that only allows males as members?

    Where will it end?

    After all, it’s OK to put down men. We’ve been responsible for all the ills of the world since the dawn of (dare I say) man.

    • It’s a double edged sword. Men blame plenty on women. I was told by a friend, yes, he is a friend, even if I have trouble with his neanderthal opinions sometime. He said women are taking over the world. I laughed. But what he said next made me laugh even harder. He said it’s because men are basically sitting back and not stepping up to the plate….in ANYTHING. THIS CAME FROM A MAN. A man who is afraid women will take over scouting and the world, lol. I actually love this guy, and he’s super intelligent with a fantastic job. Not sure where his wacky thoughts come from!

      • I never called anyone in this conversation wacky. And I hope you’ll pardon me if I take a little offense to the name-calling. I certainly in no way ‘blamed’ anything on the fairer sex. Furthermore, I would hope that my opinion would be compared to a sword. I agreed women are perfectly capable & I am thankful there are committed females ‘stepping up’ where males fail to do so. But I find the thread of the conversation to be a little lopsided – kind of male bashing. I believe in the power of the fraternity as well as sorority. Likewise I believe in men & women – boys & girls working together; just not in all things. I would in no way wish to diminish the contributions of the many wonderful women through out Scouting’s long history, but I think one would admit there are those who see the ‘Boy” in Boy Scouts as a barrier that needs to be torn down. I’ll say this much, we have had & continue to have women in leadership positions in our Troop.

        • I didn’t call YOU wacky and I didn’t even call my friend wacky. I called his MINDSET or THOUGHTS wacky. Big difference. And that’s not exactly calling somebody a name. You can call ME wacky if you want. I don’t take offense to that. Some of the things I do or take on are a bit crazy (aka wacky), etc.

    • Girls CAN be part of the BSA as members of a Venturing Crew, Sea Scouts, or Explorer Post. They are for boys and girls ages 14-20. I was an Explorer Scout in the early ’80’s. Both my girls were Venturing Scouts and worked at our council’s Boy Scout camp for years. One of my girls and some of her fellow Venturers even earned the highest awards of Ranger and Venturing Silver Awards.

      That said,…I’d like to see Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts become Scouting USA or American Scouts. It works for Ireland and Japan and all other countries that have scouting programs.

      • I would too! It makes sense, can grow membership and make great use of the National structure of Scouting, Council camps, etc. I don’t see us absorbing the Girl Scouts, but why not have an option for girls younger than 14, then they slide into venturing at that age? We have female venturers who lead our National high adventure programs and teach boys. High Adventure Program for youth, Venturing BSA is run by girls in their youth. These girls will make amazing Scout Leaders. Oh and what about all the girls who run NYLT and NAYLE….? Girls and women have been and continue to be leaders for the Premier programs the BSA offers.

  48. Thank you Bryan for adding this topic to the website. I have worked with female Den Leaders, Cub Masters, Scoutmaster’s for many years and what a great edition they are to any Scout organization. Our Council chose a female Assistant Scoutmaster for the 2010 National Jamboree and what a great asset she was to the success of the Jamboree. Her contributions were above and beyond the call of duty. As the National Jamboree Scoutmaster I will always be grateful for her outstanding service . She was awarded the Silver Beaver for her years of service to Scouting and her community. Our council also has a female Silver Antelope award winner for her outstanding service to Scouting both locally and nationally. I look at the person’s character, service and accomplishments and not their gender. It is not a issue and should never be . Trenton Spears

  49. Up to their charter dismissed them for National decision on gay scouts, the largest Troop in the country did not allow female leaders in at all. I am very happy for the boys that found other troops when they had too. They will learn that the perversion this church instilled on their troop is not consistent with scouting ideals. The scouts were also forced to take specific religious classes or leave the Troop. I am very happy to see this “Mega Church” no longer is associated with scouts as them wouldn’t know morals if it hit them in the face.

  50. Don’t you know that MOM is an acronym? It stands for Maker of Men. Yes women make great Scoutmasters and great Scouters. Good role models are non-gender specific.

  51. Having female leaders is in line with the Scout Oath, Law, and international movement. Period. BSA is quite different (and not necessarily in good ways!!) from Scouting worldwide. If a person can do the job well, I really don’t care at all what sex they are!

  52. We have had female den leaders for years (my mom was my den leader when I was a kid), we have female Venturers, and we now have gay scouts… This begs the question, why do we restrict membership in cub scouts to boys? Why not accept any gender? Potential physical attraction is no longer a barrier to membership so why exclude girls?

    • Speaking as a mom/grandma who ran here and there because of clubs that were gender specific (ie: bs and gs)….it would have been nice to have ONE place to go instead of 2 or 4 or 6 (given both groups had activities outside of meetings). 4-H is one group. Given that many girls like to camp as boys, why separate it. Venturers don’t. But then I think you were saying it with sarcasm, I truly mean it. From what I understand the main reason it didn’t join together was that GS’s have allowed gays for years so that made a major rift between the two. That reason is no longer there.

    • Is it remotely possible that it’s a good idea to have a youth program just for … dare I say it? … boys?

  53. Way back in February 1988 I was a brand new District Executive attending NEI-1 the old professional training course. CSE Ben Love was there doing his “ask the chief” thing and I asked him…”Ben, will women ever be allowed to be Scoutmasters in the BSA?” Ben’s reply was, “Not in my lifetime or yours”. That was February, in May 1988 the National Executive Board voted to remove gender restrictions from all leadership positions. This was mainly due to the continuing costs of litigation. So..more than 25 years later, the question is, “was this a good decision or not”. My answer is ambivalent…yes and no. Yes, because we have gained some good leaders over the years…and no, because there was a huge cost in youth registrations and participation as well as a changed program that are at least partly (though of course not fully) due to this decision. Women have filled very necessary roles in the adult leadership ranks in the past quarter century, serving not only as scoutmasters, but unit commissioners, district commissioners, OA advisers, etc. One area that has dramatically changed because of this decision is BSA Summer Camping. When I started attending and working in camp in the early-to-mid 1970’s the only females in camp were staff members, and even then there were very few of them. Since then building and program accommodations have been made to facilitate females in camp (restrooms, shower houses, Order of the Arrow “tap outs”, etc.) Are these and other changes for the better, or for the worse. I guess that is in the eye of the beholder. I would like to mention that in the late 1980’s as a DE my membership goals were to have at least 25% of the Total Available Youth in my district enrolled in the scouting program. We achieved that goal each year. I recently asked my current DE what the level of TAY participation was….the answer…2%. From what I’ve been able to see national doesn’t post membership and TAY info any longer, so I don’t know if this is an anomaly or par for the course, but I do know that it is no where near 25%. Is this only or even primarily due to female scouters? No, I don’t believe so, but I do think that it is a factor. Boy Scouting is no longer a place where boys learn to become men through positive male role modeling. Our society in general doesn’t afford gender differentiation a very high regard, so we are just a microcosm of our society. There of course is no turning back, even if we wanted to, but the decision to open all leadership positions to both genders has truly changed the face and program of the BSA…IMHO

  54. I’m our troop’s committee chairman with 13 years scouting experience, Vigil Honor member of the OA, district committee experience and have experienced first hand some males in scouting who have not appreciated females in leadership roles and yet if I was comparing two leaders and all else was equal except for their gender, I would choose the male to be scoutmaster because I think the boys relate better in the teenage years to a man. We had what could have been an incident several years ago with a older athletic scout being too rough on the flag football field with a younger less athletic scout who started saying he was being bullied. Scoutmaster wasn’t around so one of the male committee members took the older young man aside and talked to him about the difference between when he is playing for the coach and the coach wants him to the use that adrenaline and power rush on the ball court and when he is playing on the field with a bunch of younger kids. The older boy got it and went and apologized. I would never thought of that approach. I probably would have said something about feelings.

  55. It doesn’t matter what gender a SM is, if they have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and desire to serve in the role, let them. I hold leaders, irregardless of the gender, to the same standards.

    One complaint I’ve heard about female leaders from some folks is that they “mother” the Scouts. And I admit I’ve seen it happen a time or two. But I have also seen it with male leaders “fathering” the Scouts. We as leaders, irregardless of gender, must remember that we got to “Train ’em. Trust ’em. LET THEM LEAD!” as “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt would say.

    Another complaint I’ve heard about female leaders is the lack of a positive role model. In my humble opinion based upon years of expereince, I quote Col. Sherman Potter: “HORSEHOCKEY!” Most of the Scouts I’ve known model themselves on the older scouts in their units. They model themselves on the youth leaders who work with them, guide them, and mentor them. Yes, we as leaders do that, but they seem to pay more attention, and respond better to, the older scouts, and young (18-21) ASMs than us old fogeys.

  56. That is simply not true. The BSA will never win in this issue and they realize that. On the one hand, when they came out with their acceptance of homosexual youth they saw a dramatic drop in membership across the board; and far “right” or religious groups straight up left.

    Now just think if they would go all the way. My feeling is that it would be the end of Scouting as we know it in the US. The two biggest Chartered Organizations are the Catholic Church and the LDS Church. If they decided to pull out of scouting it would decimate scouting in many areas. Already they are loosing funding right and left; there are only a HAND FULL of councils that are even seeing positive membership numbers. I may be wrong about it but most don’t fully realize how fragle the BSA can be.

    NO, the reason is not because people think that they will molest boys. The reason has to do more with membership and funding. I for one don’t want to open that pandora’s box so to speak and see the end of Scouting. I pray every day that this program stays strong so that the youth of this great country have the chance to experience it.

    • There was NO “dramatic Drop” Definitely not the 25% that some had predicted! There was a 6% decrease, a continuation of a multi-year trend! I am not Scared of Equality! It will happen! Much of the funds being lost is corporations and United Ways not giving funds to groups who discriminate…and the BSA discriminates!

      • That’s exactly right, someone who knows the actual data and trending… The loss of funding is because the BSA discriminates, not because they allowed gay scouts. They still discriminate because they do not allow gay leaders. That’s why they have lost so many corporate donations. No one wants to support discrimination in this day and age. That’s why some defected and started Trail Life – they wanted to continue to deny women leadership, keep gays out, and ban anyone not a Christian. So much for diversity.

  57. I thank the ladies for standing up and takng leadership roles in Boy Scouts, when weak men refuse to. (I have some dads that are such wimps, I would never let them be scout leaders) However, and I mean no disrespect to strong women leaders, read the early writings & doctrine of BSA. Boy Scouts was all about a “transition to manhood”.

    Yes women can teach the boys camping skills & square knots, but they cannot teach a boy to become a man. Boy/Cub Scouts are the only boy’s/young man’s program left in the US. I have 16 single moms who brought their sons to our troop because they wanted a man’s influence as role models in their sons life. They specifically mentioned they liked the all male leadership of a Boy Scout Troop, and the fact that all our Scout leaders are either active duty soldiers or recently retired. They love the changes they see in their sons when under the influence of all male leadership.

    As mentioned, due your homework, all the early BSA publications talked about the boy to man transition. Today’s writings do not even mention that Scouts are to become men. I guess they want scouts to be metrosexuals.

    What scares me most about what used to be “Boy Scouts” is the huge number of postings against male only Scout leadership. It shows how far the feminzation of Boy Scouts has gone.

    There will be no “Green Bar Bill” to save us this time, as he rescued us from the disasterous “Improved Scouting Program”.

    My prediction: Co-ed Boy Scouts; elimination of Boy Scout uniforms; anything goes for membership. Boy Scouts will be called “Scouts”.

    It was nice while it lasted. Why can’t progressives leave the Boy Scouts alone?

    By the way, BSA won that Federal Court case to allowed women to be Scoutmasters, but as reported in the New York Times in 1988, BSA’s stance was male only Scoutmasters, but gave in due to the high cost of fighting off lawsuites.

    See the 14 February 1988 NYT artilcle here: http://www.nytimes.com/1988/02/14/us/boy-scouts-to-allow-women-to-be-leaders.html

    • Wow, just wow. The BSA was never in reality whatever you have pictured in your head. That’s a disgusting nightmare of scouting.

      • Do you want me to provide you with at least 20 references from BSA early days? Please do your homework before you join the ranks of the uninformed.

  58. As a female Scoutmaster in Alabama, I can say that the most difficult part is not in camping or leading the boys, but in recruiting. So many fathers (and mothers…..) will not allow their sons to be taught outdoor skills by a woman. My scouts love me and we get along great. My troop is excellent. We produce summer camp staffers, Eagle Scouts, excellent leaders, and currently the Order of the Arrow Coosa Lodge Chief. My troop has been Honor Troop at our summer camp 2 years in a row. Some parents do not understand that we are producing leaders and good citizens rather than just male stereotypes.

  59. My son was in a troop with a female Scoutmaster and it was an excellent experience. She was very good and new a lot about the scouting program. Was part of the District OA advisor and dance team. She shared the vision of when the Patrol method was being stongly suggested to be a part of the troop policy. She really liked camping all year round and was very involved with high adventuer trips including others she developed for the fun of it. She always was fair and help each of the boys in the troop from seeking a leadership role or being part of the OA experience. I think you have the qualifications why not.

  60. I am inspired by this conversation! It has been horrible transitioning from WEBELOS where I was very involved with the meetings as a den LEADER to the Troop where I am marginalized to the role of MC. I would love the opportunity to continue talking with the Scouts about their goals. I needed to read such encouraging comments on this topic.

      • I’m so sorry that has been your experience. Keep up the great work you ahve been doing. Not all troops/packs/units are like that. It’s a disservice to the boys to have that sexist attitude.

    • Madelyn,

      With all due respect, I have been involved in several units where the unit’s adult, as well as youth, leadership do not want just crossed over Cub Scout leaders serving in ASM and SM roles for specified period of time. They put them into committee roles to get their feet wet in the Boy Scout program, understand the troop’s dynamics, get training, and most importantly understand the Patrol Method.

      As a youth, one of the most frustrating things was me running my patrol, and later running my troop, and having a brand new , just crossed over leaders interfere. And obviously I have seen this occur as an adult leader. Thankfully a good SM, and committee chair, can get the interfering leader out of the Scouts’ hair.

      Part of the challenge we, and I’m guilty of it too, have as former, or current in my case, Cub leaders working with a troop is that we must step back, and let the Scouts do their thing without us interfering. This is especially difficult if for 5+ years you’ve been as a Cub leader where you are responsible for all aspects of the meetings and activities. You are sed to doing it all. Then when you move up, you gotta step back and let the Scouts succeed, and fail, in their experience. Very hard to do, even if you know better than to interfere. Heck since my oldest has crossed over, there has been a time or two that I was told, “You’re getting into Cub Scout mode again.”

      As Master Yoda would say, Cub Scout leaders must “unlearn what you know.”

      My advice is to sit back, watch and learn the troop’s dynamics, get trained, and give it some time before stepping into an ASM role.

      Also get a good chair and a large coffee cup. 😉

    • Nahila Nakne makes some good points about the program differences. The best thing you can do is simply to take the ASM training, and IOLS if you can (I took it at Boy Scout Summer Camp), and jump in. If you have the training, they really have no excuse for not including you and if they continue to do so, a conversation with your Unit or even District Commissioner (if you don’t have or aren’t comfortable with your Unit Commissioner) would be a good step. He or she should is also a volunteer, so it’s less “threatening” to to the unit leaders than going straight to the District Exec. You might get some good ideas from them, even if they don’t do anything directly. There is a good chance they personally know the leaders already, which the DE probably doesn’t. (There are A LOT of leaders in a district – the DE can’t know many personally.)

      Part of the intent of IOLS is to really involve you in being part of a “patrol” and show you how they work. If you have already done Wood Badge, then you probably know it, but the review isn’t a bad thing. I’m a Cubmaster but my personal approach (from being a Mom) is to try to have the kids work through as much as they can personally, which is really what Boy Scouts intends as well. “Boy Led” doesn’t mean anyone expects the 14 yr olds to drive themselves to meetings!

      I think when the leaders see you actually working with the boys in an appropriate manner, they’ll be happier to have you more involved. For instance, as a boy is leaving the room before cleanup, instead of saying “Go back and help clean up”, call them over and say, “Is there something you missed in here?” or something along those lines. Most of the boys know and the rest will figure it out when they turn around and look.

  61. Groucho Marx was once asked how he felt about nudity on stage (it was the 60’s). He said “I love to feel about nudity on stage, particulary female american nudity!” I’m just saying.

    I’ve seen competent female leaders at all levels. I’ve seen incompetent female leaders, too. Same with men, I guess.

  62. When my son and I (single mom)were visiting various Boy Scout Troops to help decide which to join as while a Cub Scout. I was wearing the Cub Assistant Leader uniform. The Adult Male Scout Master said to the whole group of potential new boy/adults that Boy learn to be men from men, not by having women leaders. I asked an adult on the side why he was allowed to say that. I was told he always says that. Their loss. We joined a troop who welcomed women and the current Scout Master is a wonderful leader!!

    • Good for you for leaving. Shame on the parents who allow this discrimination to be taught. My boys would be out of that troop if the Committee Chair didn’t remove the SM for that.

      • At the very least the parents need to make a caravan to the scout office, demand a meeting with the execs and see what happens. Maybe nothing, but at least it would e officially on record. Do it in writing as well. They WILL – in some coucils – destroy paperwork they don’t want kept. Always keep a copy. We learned.

        Hopefully, the council execs will call this SM to task and make him understand his personal feelings are not relevant. And he should shut up. Now having said that, council cannot control the troop nor the SM, only the charter can, and if they agree with him, this troop is dead in the water. Hope it works out.

    • Lisamarie – Good for you. That is why you should shop around for a troop that fits your preferences and not cry about how you don’t like a troop’s politics. Troops are all different. Pick the one that fits you and don’t try to change it to fit you. My son and I actually selected a different numbered troop for his crossover because of the male leadership in that troop. I still keep in contact with the leaders from the other troop, but don’t regret not joining them.

      • Troop are different to the extent that they have a different philosophy and focus. But since they are all bound by the BSA, they have to follow the rules. And in this case, women can be leaders and, gasp, even scoutmasters! Trying to find a troop that currently and forever will have male leaders is up to you. But there are many other qualities that the BSA and myself would suggest are more important for when YOUR SON decides what troop he wants to join.

  63. As you can see from the posts here Sandra, you are up against some entrenched perceptions about gender roles and what the Boy Scout Movement “should be”. There is a lot of rhetoric, vitriol and even cussing (!!!) here on this blog discussion- kinda like Bryan opened a big ol’ can o’ worms! Being an active, female scoutmaster in 2014 requires a thick skin for sure, but if you can focus on your goals and the reasons you stepped up to lead, it will enrich your life in ways you cannot imagine, and provide an amazing opportunity to serve.
    My best advice is to be yourself, and focus on delivering the best scouting program you can to your troop. BSA training is invaluable, from Leader Specific to week long courses at the Philmont Training Center, you will gain much from participating in these and be able to bring your new skills and ideas home to improve your troop. Train your Scouts: ILSTx2 each year; Send all eligible scouts to NYLT through your council, ask the troop committee to approve paying for half of each Scout’s fees; NAYLE is now offered closer to you- at Sea Base, encourage attendance at this life-changing leadership experience. Scouts well trained in the basics of BSA leadership skills will make tremendous SPLS, ASPLs and PLs and provide wonderful, model leaders for your new Scouts.
    I was never a boy scout, but I was raised by one. I spent every summer of my childhood canoeing rivers like the Snake in Wyoming, because my father loved it, and learned how from his Scoutmaster who inspired his scouts in deep, lasting ways(and wrote the original Canoe MB book! Bless you, Keith Monroe).
    I am the third generation of my family to be a Scout Leader in my home town here in California. Two of my new recruits this year, have an Eagle Scout Dad who was a cub in our local pack when my Father was Cub Master, an amazing tradition for both of our families. My ultimate goal as Scoutmaster is to find many ways to inspire my scouts to grow into men of honor and commitment, who respect women and have strong values. I also work to help develop traditions and build their resilience as people by planning amazing adventures (like Philmont treks!!!), meaningful service(we focus on our Local Veteran’s Administration campus, and Home for Heroes), and a strong sense of community and connectedness.
    Good Luck Sandra, I know you will never regret your decision to serve in this capacity!

  64. Do you know the saddest part of my experience?
    When the scoutmaster wrote such horrific lies about my son, the committee allowed him to do it. When I asked for a meeting with the committee, the scoutmaster sent three men…all 3 close friends of his. Then, the scoutmaster blocked my access to our website so that I was unable to call any of the remaining members to make sure that they understood my position clearly. I wanted a chance to speak to their hearts. Many of these were people who have known my son since he was 5!
    The remaining members were given details in an email composed by the scoutmaster and voted over the phone! Even our charter rep said that that kind of vote should’ve never been permitted. They allowed the power of one scoutmaster to sway their decisions. One committee member had recently chosen my son specifically to be the lead scout on an event she was planning. It involved trusting his maturity level and attention to the safety of his fellow scouters. These Judas’ should have their positions taken away from them. To top it off, I’ve asked the District Exec to review it and he said,” No, that’s for the committee to handle.”
    I’ve been calling the National office in Texas since July 7th to see if someone there will listen to what happened and after 5 calls they have yet to return one! This experience has really opened my eyes that not everyone in leadership lives by the scout law. The squeaky wheel doesn’t get the grease, it gets the axe! I’m saddened by this fact.
    The scoutmaster reported 1) that my son initiates misbehavior on most occasions 2) that several families have indicated that they would leave the troop if my son was allowed to return and 3) that the scoutmaster has a log of numerous incidents which show egregious behavior on a regular basis. Interestingly enough, when asked to produce these documents, he would not. How ironic, huh?
    My son is not perfect, but he is not the person described above.

    Let me introduce my son to you:

    National Den Award twice as a Cub Scout
    Created a pack service project that went on to earn Service Project of the Year
    National Certificate of Merit
    District Certificate of Merit
    Recognized locally by both the Mayor and the Division of Fire for contributions to his community
    Super Achiever Award
    Arrow of Light
    One award away from 4 Star recipient of God and Country
    Has over 100 hours of community service beyond scouting involvement in the past 3 years
    Has held both Patrol and Assistant Patrol leader (elected position by his peers)
    Member in good standing with Order of the Arrow
    Good Samaritan Award recipient ( no other youth in our church’s conference has ever received this award)
    What kind of scout does he sound like to you?
    How can a young man be both a hero and a heathen? It’s not possible. Somebody is lying and the rest are backing the lie up to save themselves the same fate that was bestowed upon my family.
    So back to the topic…I am cautious as ever now as my son and I attempt to join another troop so that we can get the Eagle he deserves. I’ve been told that I’m welcomed, as a woman, with open arms but I’ll wait and see…

  65. Our troop has had two different female Scoutmasters and two male Scoutmasters in the past 15 years. All have done a good job and made valuable contributions. The reality for our troop was that fathers or other males were not always available or willing to take the top leadership position. I would agree with some of the other comments that good training is essential to understand the program and how to implement it properly. Depth of leadership is also critical for success. One leader might not have the ability to do a strenuous high adventure activity but others were willing to step up for that period of time. For me, the issue is not gender but willingness and ability to serve.

    • Just checked…yes, they can be. Actually, there 2 deep rule is stricter than ours (I think). The 2 deep has to be either 2 females or 1 male and 1 female, and none of them can be related. I don’t think BSA has the ‘not related’ rule or the requirement of 1 female. Well, in the case of the BSA it would read 2 males or 1 female and 1 male (doing it in reverse of course). IF so, we broke the rules, because on several campouts we’ve had there were husband/wife teams, father/son (adult son), OR two females. AS long as we had 2 deep.

    • Yes, my Girl Scout leader in the 1980s was one of the dads. He was a good guy and helped us do interesting stuff.

  66. A perusal of the comments does point out that even a discussion of the alternative will be met with insult and ad hominem attacks regardless of the reasoning.
    It’s kind of like hunting for those who don’t think like us. Bait the hook and see who comes out of the woodwork. It seems we as Scouters sometimes struggle with some of the points of the Scout Law as well.

  67. There are enough male scoutmasters who don’t deliver the program right or run their troops correctly to worry about this.

    I have no problem with it, the main thing is to get fully trained and understand the Scouting methods and program, get those scouts outdoors and don’t look back.

    As long as that is going on, it doesn’t matter if the leader is male or female.

  68. It’s 1995 and the troop needed a new Scoutmaster. Not one of the dads would stand up and become the next Scoutmaster. So one of the moms did. She was a great Scoutmaster. The boy’s had a great time. As Unit Commissioner, I saw the troop grow under her leadership. The guys that would not take up the position, all keep complaining about every little thing that was happen. She was fully tracked. The guys, not a one was trained.. The climax of he time as Scoutmaster include the troop’s first trek to Philmont and a five Eagle CoH of five boys that all started together as Tigers and all got their Eagle together. She and her son were also active in the OA. None of the guys had ever done that. It was a great time. After five years, and her son headed to college, it was time for her to step down, but that is part of how Scouting works. After she left, the troop changed and some other changes happened that did not seem very much like the Scouting program. Lucky someone can forward and took over the Scoutmaster position and got the troop back on the Scouting way. Those that tried hard to block what our female Scoutmaster had done, also finally left the troop, and the Boy Lead troop returned after one year of the untrained males ran the troop.

    So it is a male or female thing? A little. In my case it was the males that would not go to training to learn how Scouting/Boy Scouts need to be run were our problem. Withthe training, our one female Scoutmaster was great.

  69. I think it’s FANTASTIC! Absolutely agree that gender has nothing to do with being a good mentor to our kids. Many Troops are “old school” male-dominated and it’s great to see these walls breaking down to see people (both male and female) with the energy, drive, enthusiasm, experience, and desire to be role models for the members of this organization.

  70. I was asked if I’d like to be SM. I said no: it was too much responsibility and too much work, especially for a recently single mother who also has a daughter. So of course I’ve spent the summer resurrecting our dormant Venture Crew. In hindsight, it was the right call. We’ve had a couple of parents join the Troop who may not be anti-woman so much as anti-Susan, and my being that high up in Troop leadership wouldn’t have sat well with them. Heck, I’m told they put up a fight over my OA call out. For me, Crew Advisor is a much more comfortable place to be. Our motto is A Good Crew Strengthens the Troop, and that will allow me to lead alongside the SM and ASMs with what I hope will be a minimum of conflict.

  71. I’m a Den Leader and Treasurer and person Friday it seems for my Pack – I’d say anyone can be a leader – man or woman – assuming otherwise is ignorant.

  72. I’ve been involved with Scouting over 50 years both here and overseas. I remember when women could only be Den Mothers. We had a troop in our council which had no male leaders. No man wanted to step forward and be a leader. So a woman did. Back then she could go to some training but not others. She wasn’t allowed to go to QB nor wear her SM Trained patch. Talk about discrimination. In the 21st century, I’d have thought we had evolved. Other counties have. I thought the boys needed role models and leaders to help them. Some of the best leaders I’ve be involved with are female. Scoutmaster have to be male, how neanderthal.

  73. I have mixed feelings on this topic. I’m a female and have been asked to be a Scoutmaster of a troop in need. I also see the other side where young men need a positive male role model in their lives. This is something I cannot do for them. Positive Female Role Model, yes. I would like to be a Scoutmaster of a Jamboree troop someday (and have been a Jamboree ASM) but I’m not allowed to be a Jamboree Scoutmaster without having first been a Scoutmaster. 15 years of ASM is not good enough. I know so many great ladies in Scouting! I think its great that you have stepped up. I also hope you have some great male role models to give the scouts this part which might be missing in their lives.

    • Sherri Nielsen Thanks for your comments. I believe that the selection of being a Scoutmaster before they can become a Jamboree Scoutmaster is overstated. I believe the selection of Scoutmaster and Assistants for the Jamboree should have the consideration by the Council Jamboree selection committee of a overall consensus of having four leaders that will represent the Council and the BSA, have great delegating skills and common goals. Scout mastering 36 Scouts is a great responsibility and it is a team effort by the Scoutmaster and the three assistants with all four sharing a role in the success of the Troop. I had a women Assistant Scoutmaster in 2010 and she was instrumental in leading the troop and her contributions were the highlight of the event. Her first name was also Sherri. Scout leaders have hopes and dreams just like the youth scouts and I hope yours will be fulfilled. Best of everything to you. Trenton

  74. Prior to my Troop disbanding, we were considering creating or transforming into a Venturing Crew. Quite frankly, having a female SM would have made that task so much easier, and possibly even kept the Troop alive! One of the difficulties we faced was the view from a lot of people of “Tradition” (yes, capital T) being only men can lead, and women were too busy with the house to take on the leadership role necessary for a co-ed unit. We had interested girls for the unit, but no interested women for leadership.

    In my opinion, the view of “Tradition” is dangerous. Not only is it outdated in terms of internal stances and approaches to the whole organization, it is detrimental FROM THE OUTSIDE AS WELL. Often, Scouters who had come up through the organization (sometimes even those who stayed on after 18) have the same patriarchal view that an uninitiated family member or potential Scout family might have. I’m not saying we get rid of all traditions, but we need to address that changes have happened, both internally and socially. The world today is not as it was 100 years ago; structures need to adapt.

    The key, I think, to a unit accepting a female leader is to not make it an issue. I’m not saying she needs to act like a man, but to never bring up to the boys that her gender was part of the consideration for an event. Needing a separate tent, separate shower/latrine, reduced physical requirements, whatever the issue should not be mentioned to the boys. If they feel that they were going on a 40 mile hike instead of a 50 miler just because the
    “female can’t keep up,” that will hold back everybody and undermine the opportunity. I’m not explaining myself as well as I’d like, so I don’t want anybody to think I’m being sexist.

    Consider the fire departments. Men have to do a higher physical standard then female applicants, and departments are being told to leave spaces for the women to join. This is backwards to how the unit should react. You do what you are capable of, and work AS A UNIT to reach the goal the unit establishes. If that’s 50 miles, if that’s 20 members, if that’s an active and happy unit, it doesn’t matter.

    Make it clear that the sponsor, the unit leadership, the unit families, and the unit committee are aware of a female leader and that it is not about her, but about the boys, and nobody will have an issue. Anybody who has an issue with it you probably won’t want in the unit to begin with.

  75. Well, when I was a Scout…As a Cub Scout my dad and another dad were my den’s Den Mothers (my dad called himself that)(yup, I’m old). My son joined cubs in ’91–his den mother bailed and a dad took over. I got recruited into the pack committee by the female Cub Master in ’93–she was great. Recruited me for Day Camp, too. That den of 8 went into a troop in ’95, and I did too. I don’t recall meeting any female SMs or ASMs until about 2000, and since induction to OA in ’03 have met a number of them. Knowledgeable, very competent, intelligent, impressive, friendly… I’m for them.

  76. I would like to thank everyone that enjoys having female scoutmasters if not for my grandmother cathrine pollard the BSA would still be gender restrictive.thank you for keeping my grandmothers legacy alive

  77. I’m against women Scoutmasters. I’m in favor of boys learning and growing into manhood with the guidance of other men. This isn’t sexist. It is merely logical that boys learn to be men from men. It’s illogical to expect, for example, an non-Soldier to teach someone how to be a Soldier. You go to the source. That’s why I came back to Scouting. I wanted to fill a void for military sons whose fathers were deployed and be there to mentor boys into manhood. If men don’t get involved, the product of manhood will be far different (that just makes sense). Men should step up in this role and most do.

    • LOL, love it when someone has to qualify that they are not being racist or sexist or homophobic… and then they proceed to share their hatred. Wow. Scouts raises young men and women to be decent human beings, it has nothing to do with what is between their legs. If you believe a boy can’t grow into a man under the guidance of a woman, you are sexist. Admitting it is the first step to seeking help.

  78. If you have a mother who can make the time commitment and cannot find a father who can why not? We have a female ASM in our troop who stepped up with her former husband out of the picture and does an excellent job. The Scouts certainly do not treat her any differently. If my daughter’s mother were alive she would be an excellent Girl Scout leader but I have stepped in as an assistant in her absence. We take willing leaders who are interested in the kids, will protect and teach them regardless of gender. Yes it would be nice for men to lead the boys but thank God we have women who will when the men cannot or will not.

  79. My son moved from a male scoutmaster-led troop to one led by a woman. He blossomed and thrived because she has a gentle, nurturing way about her that he responds to. The former troop was like a testosterone factory in which the SM encouraged rough play as a form of “bonding” among the boys. My son has a physical disability, and he never fit in with the others. In his new troop, the female SM has nothing but gentlemen who bond by doing patrol activities and by helping one another. They are sensitive towards my son, and always make him feel like an important member of the troop.

  80. How do female scoutmasters teach young men how to become better men?

    I have no issue with women leaders in general. but part of the purpose of scouting is to give boys positive male role models. At least it was for me, 25 years ago. Coming from a single-parent family, having a male scoutmaster meant a lot. I was able to ask him questions and get guidance on things that I would have never been willing to ask a woman.

    • Yes and no. Many of us who were single mothers, had to learn how to answer those male questions. I grew up running with all male friends save a select few females. Not much a male could ask or say in front of me that would surprise or insult me (unless it was a personal reference).

      Now, my question is: if it’s a question you couldn’t ask a woman, is it really a question you should be asking any male other than a relative? I’m not being nasty or insulting, I’m seriously asking.

      Short of sex questions, which a SM or ASM should not be answering anyway, I can’t think of anything I wouldn’t answer for my ‘boys’. They even talk to me about girlfriends.

      Just FYI, when I went to a new troop and continued to attend all the campouts which had no women in attendance usually and zero overnight, I was nervous the WOMEN would be concerned. They aren’t. They are happy that there is a female who the boys can relate to and feel comfortable around. Several make sure my name is the one on the health form giving permission to transport the boys at camp. It works out good. Bad cop, good cop. The MEN play the tyrants (which they love, lol, because they really ARE NOT, they are big teddy bears usually), and I get to play the fun, go to person, lol.

      In my old troop, as SM I had to play both roles. I rather enjoy being just a leader and not the SM! I only shoulder some of the responsbility, lol.

    • Having just spent a week at camp, sometimes having a woman do something that kind of freaks them out makes them stop whining and do it – like sleeping in a tent with spiders. The boys were freaking out about the stupid spiders, but the volume of complaints dropped A LOT after I cheerfully pointed out a large, perfect (occupied) web right at the entrance to my tent and a big spider hanging out at the back – then went in and laid down for a nap on my cot.

      And sometimes, there are things boys will ask a woman but not a man.

      • Liz, you are so right! My ‘boys’ will talk to me about anything, and sometimes I have to put a squash on it, lol. Because they know they can trust me, but sometimes it’s not appropriate and I have to remind them of that.

        I do the climbing wall, not every year, sometimes my knees are just not cooperating and the meds aren’t strong enough, but when I do, I had issues of the boys teasing each other (the ones who were afraid) because GRANDMA did it and they didn’t.

        HAd to put a stop to that, too, explaining I did it because I wanted to but there was nothing wrong with being afraid of heights. That I’m sure those boys could do other things that THEY may not be comfortable with. There are always tradeoffs.

  81. Women in Scouting-
    My mom can out-Scout anyone. She grew up in a family of docents and Park Rangers and has helped in Scouting for a long time. She is an ASM, MBC, and helps everyone. I had to leave my old troop and friends because that Scoutmaster said to me it would be better if my mom did not attend camp-outs. I was the only one at summer camp without a dad. Tonight she was the only woman at the new Troop’s committee meeting and when she said, “Yikes, I’m the only female here”, one person looked at her and said, “That’s why they call it Boy Scouting.” My mom is the strongest person I know, but she just came home and cried. I don’t want to quit Scouting, but I only have a mom and she should be given the same rights as a dad.
    Signed -13 year-old Eagle Scout without a Troop

    • Young man, you stand up for your mom! Some people just live in the 18th century.

      I am the only woman that goes on events with my troop, after my old troop folded due to some archaic beliefs of the CO. My whole troop stood up for me. IF I was gone, they were gone, and our troop died…one my dad started 60 years ago. I cried for weeks.

      I was very unsure of myself at first with my new troop. The women do take part in things like committees, but they do not attend camp or campout.

      I will admit that I got rooked into it. Talked into taking the SM/ASM training at an MBU…became an ASM. Suddenly our SM quit, and at a meeting I MISSED, they promoted me, lol. I have been a leader since 2007, and this was my 9th year at summer camp. Always the only female.

      Have your mom check around, there are plenty of troops and CO’s who would love to have a well-trained, enthusiastic scouter in their midst….sex is irrelevant.

      YOU GO, KID, you got this. Kudos to your mom as well.

    • You Rock! And so does your mom.

      Has she gone to Roundtable? She might be able to talk to the leaders there and find a good troop. You can go along with her and meet the leaders, then go meet the troop.

      I know how hard it is. In my son’s unit, the SM says he wants female leaders, but the COR apparently does not. But here’s the thing: A LOT of the other leaders are supportive within the unit. There are definitely issues there, but I have chosen to push the issue somewhat so other moms who want to be active have an easier path. But Mariahwwa is right – there are tons of units happy to have active Scouter Moms!

  82. I was a Scoutmaster for 6 years and ASM for two after that. We didn’t have any men available or interested and the Troop ran well. My father, who was Scoutmaster for my three older brothers (All Eagle Scouts,) was my ASM but being in his 60s, wasn’t able to do everything.

    There was one summer when it was myself and two Moms who took the 8 boys to summer camp. We had a blast!

    IMO, regardless of gender, Scoutmasters need a team. We need to model how to work together and so bring the strengths of both genders to the table. Once I became an ASM to a male SM, I was still respected and valued for my knowledge and experience.

    That is what we need to teach the Scouts!

    We have one Troop in our area that doesn’t allow the women to go on outings, or assist with the boys directly. They are allowed.to be on Troop Committee and that is it. What does that teach the boys? That women aren’t valued in leadership and need to be kept behind the scenes.

  83. I don’t think it says anything about a woman’s lack of ability to lead. This program is about teaching boys to be men and frankly you need to see a man to be a man is the truth. How many men are pushing to be girlscout leaders? I grew up as a scout and am thankful for all that the scouting program did for me and I am happy to give back as my son is now a tiger and starting his journey. Currently he has a female den leader and I am not pleased with the results. I never had a leader in all my time in refer to another parent as their besty and try to include their daughter in every meeting. Maybe they should make a group called the scouts for integrated scouting but my wife and I signed my son up for cubscouts. Personally I don’t agree with it or think that it is right.

  84. I’ve met good and poor Scoutmasters of both genders. I don’t think gender matters. I think following the program as set out in the BSA materials matters.

    I have seen too many over-protective parents of both genders, but more moms than dads. And I wouldn’t want any of them as ASM or SM.

    I do think that in some troops, like mine, where many boys come from mom-only single parent families – it does the boys a lot of good to have a male SM. It gives them a positive male role model.

    But bottom line, the best candidate should be given the job – gender shouldn’t matter. Give it to a caring, dedicated adult who is willing to follow the BSA program and give the boys the best experience and help them on their trail (hopefully to Eagle).

  85. A couple of points to consider…

    1. In Girl Scouting, men may be volunteer leaders but not the “01” – the GS equivalent of Scoutmaster. They recognize the “role models” DO have GENDER QUALITIES that should be recognized & respected.

    2, WE ARE BUILDING MEN in a country that is ravaged by divorced homes, single mothers, absentee fathers, “helicopter parents”, and subjected to everything that can be done in the name of “political correctness” to emasculate males.

    3. I have met MANY single mothers (or mothers with crappy husbands) who confided in me that reason #1 that they put their boy(s) in Boy Scouts is to expose their sons to MASCULINE and POSITIVE MALE role models for their sons….. a duty I accept with much seriousness and humility in my heart.

    4. IT’S GREAT that women want to be involved, and SHOULD be to many ways… but I would say WHENEVER POSSIBLE, a man should be THE LEADER in a BOY scout troop. If you are in areas where they cannot find men to lead, then YES, allow a woman to make up for the (shameful) absence of men, but “first choice” would be for a male in this role.

  86. I was on the troop committee when my husband was the scoutmaster. When he no longer wanted that position no one was willing to step up. I Stepped up to be the sm otherwise the troop would have died. When I took over the troop committe chair resigned because he didn’t like the idea of a female sm. Actually he never liked the idea that I went on campouts either. I was sm for 7 years and now have stepped back to asm. Gender does not matter as much as someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to help young boys be good men through scouting.

  87. This is my 4th year in Cubscouts and I am now the Cubmaster. I came into scouting with my son and he is my inspiration for wanting to excel as an adult leader so that I can provide him and the rest of the boys the best program I can. I want to be recognized for the work that I do for my boys and not my gender. I believe that women play an integral part of Scouting. This is certainly not 1967 when women were not allowed to even camp at the Jamboree.

  88. A female Scoutmaster is fine. I’ve known some very good ones. For a new Scoutmaster I would say to just take the training and run the program in a boy-led fashion.

    I would say that the one thing that a female Scouter has to look out for is that your position patch says “Scoutmaster” or “Assistant Scoutmaster”. It does not say “Troop Mom”. Boys have to learn how to get back up after they fall down, and they can’t learn that if you never let them fall.

  89. I think if it wasn’t for women, Cub Scouting would have failed long ago. In the Cub Scouting program the majority of leaders are women. As a single mom who has been a Scout leader for nearly 15 years, I was a den leader and then Cub Master when my boys were young. Once they crossed over into Boy Scouting, I stepped back some because I figured it was time for them to be with men. They needed the male influence I could not give them. However, I remained active as a merit badge counsellor and I frequently helped out on camping trips, etc. Now, I am back to Cub Scout Master with a new pack. I have both male and female leaders. I will not turn away an adult who wants to volunteer as a leader even if s/he does not have a boy in the pack. Of course all leaders are screened and check out thoroughly. But there are many great adults who want to give of themselves to youth without necessarily having a child themselves. Some because they are still young and not ready for a family, some because their kids are older, some because they are not able to have children of their own but still want to have the opportunity to mentor and care for children. It does not matter as long as they are able to pass a background check and abide by two deep leadership and other Scouting principles.

    I like seeing Boy Scout troops with strong male leaders because too many boys are growing up without fathers these days and this is a great place for them to find good male role models. But women are perfectly capable and able to provide excellent leadership as well. Together we can continue turning boys into honorable men to lead our country and our world.

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