The Scouts were in the news today for appointing their first female chair in its 108 year history. You can read one of the articles about this topic here:
Queue the comments. There are few positive ones, but many negative and usually from those who do not understand either organisation. Some ignoring the fact that girls have been able to join scouting for 20 years and telling them to go back to Guides. Others dismissing the values guiding has to offer and suggests it should close down. Very frustrating read following an awesome fun day with a group of Brownies just yesterday.
My view may be controversial, and having not been a part of Scouting may be biased, but I do feel there should be an option for all boy Scout groups. Not to take opportunities away from girls but to give extra opportunities to boys. There may be many boys from very female oriented homes who would prefer the all male space, that is the opinion of my boyfriend who went to an all boy scout group. But the obvious difficulty here is the lack of volunteers to run so many different charity groups. I worry with Guiding already being the larger organisation, and with so many girls also join the Scouts, the number of places for boys is decreasing.
However, my main topic for this post is as the heading says, will boys join Brownies? No. Not right not, no. For those who flippantly ask this, please consider the history of girls getting Girlguiding to begin with.
When Robert Baden-Powell starting the Scouts it was boys only. Many girls showed interested in the groups but were turned away. Some girls even formed their own Scout groups themselves, they completed all the work required to earn Scout badges and they wrote to the powers that be to receive their badges. And they did receive them, but only by omitting their first name and using their first initial instead. They were only allowed to achieve these badges if they were boys. The powers that be became aware of this ‘fraud’ and demanded the girls return the badges they earned – they were not even allowed to keep them!
In present day Britain I am not aware of boys desperately taking part in their own Guide groups, sneakily working at badges not designed for them and pretending to be girls to own their badges. They don’t really need to, the Scouts have what they need. If I heard there were boys doing this I would be outraged and willing to see what we are offering the the Scouts don’t.
I looked into both programmes of Cubs and Brownies to see the difference. Both have three main themes.
Cubs: Outdoor and adventure, World and Skills.
Brownies: You, Community, World.
So both groups have a theme of ‘world’, so that should be quite equal. In Brownies this would encompass the ‘World Traveller Badge Day’ we attended yesterday and the ‘Space Adventure Night’ we’re having next week.
I imagine ‘Skills’ and ‘You’ to be of a similar thread. In Brownies ‘You’ also includes friendship, confidence and learning about yourself – your interests, skills and beliefs. Cubs focuses more on building skills, which depending on the leader could incorporate some of the things I listed above for Brownies.
So the main difference is the third theme, ‘Community’ Vs ‘Outdoor and Adventure’. Firstly, in Brownies we often go on walks around our local community so I would group these activities together. In our community actions we are often outside helping with the Church garden, or visiting the local police station. There isn’t too much by adventure we can fit into our weekly meetings so am interested to see what Scouts offer that covers this. I also believe many Cub groups would also take part in community action and visiting their local community too.
A reason Girlguiding is girl oriented is because it is led by the girls. They choose their activities and choose what sort of organisation they want to be a part of. The surveys show that girls would rather keep their all girl environment for now. And while we still live in a world will all boy schools and all girls schools I cannot see how it is sexist to have a club that functions just the same.
From my perspective, both organisations offer similar activities but to a slightly different audience. Both are relevant, both are beneficial, and both require to hard work of volunteers to allow it to be offered. Those who like to post negative comments about either should really experience either of them before the cast judgement. I hope both organisations continue to go from strength to strength and work together to give children even more opportunities to develop into well rounded citizens, rather than the ones who enjoy leaving nasty comments about people bettering themselves.
Boys won’t be choosing to join Brownies right now, when the boys start demanding something of their own the same way the girls did 100 years ago perhaps perceptions will change.