2013 Projects
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New Scouts of America
Justin Uhr

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has had a positive impact on the lives of millions of boys throughout its history, and has often been a beneficial part of communities across the country. It provides opportunities for its members to learn useful skills, bond with their peers and fathers/guardians, and develop a strong sense of character and responsibility. The Boy Scouts offers many benefits to scouts, their parents, and their communities, and the experience of Boy Scouts is difficult to find elsewhere.

Despite its obvious benefits, BSA excludes half of all children by not allowing girls to participate. In addition, boys who are gay or without religious belief must choose between being excluded and being dishonest and secretive about their sexual orientation or lack of belief. Besides denying large segments of the youth population the benefits of participation, the policies of the BSA promote bigotry and exclusion among scouts and leaders in a time when acceptance and open-mindedness are crucially important for the healthy development of our society. The BSA has had repeated opportunities to adapt its policies to the needs of modern society, but has refused to do so. This means that parents and children who are ineligible, or unwilling to support the organization, are forced to do without scouting’s benefits, or to seek out alternatives. Unfortunately, a genuine alternative does not currently seem to exist.

I propose the creation of a new organization that provides the same benefits as the Boy Scouts, while being inclusive of all interested youth. This organization would not merely be a copy of the BSA, but rather would draw inspiration from the Boy Scouts, along with other organizations, when appropriate, while finding new ways to accomplish its goals when no currently implemented approaches are up to the task.

Although children of all genders, sexual orientations, religious beliefs or lack of belief will be welcome, neither gender, orientation, religion, nor atheism will be the focus of the organization. The goal will be to create an environment where all youth can feel comfortable, without focusing on their differences. That being said, diversity is an important topic that would certainly be explored as part of the ‘curriculum’ of the organization.

The primary goals of the organization would be to provide a structured environment where kids:

  • Bond with their peers and their family
  • Interact with their community (from a local to global scale)
  • Develop independence, self-reliance, and self-confidence while also learning tamwork
  • Learn outdoor ‘survival’ skills and explore the natural world, while also learning about technology and various ‘making’ skills, like carpentry, electronics, and programming
  • Form a sense of character and develop positive ethics
  • Have fun!

There are organizations that achieve some of these goals, but none of them are as widespread or effective as the Boy Scouts. Part of my research into this project involves learning more about these other programs and what their successes and shortcomings have been.

 

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