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Friday, November 24, 2017

I Was a Male Girl Scout

I Was a Male Girl Scout
David E. McClendon, Sr.

You may not believe me when I tell you this but, I was a male Girl Scout.  I was also a Boy Scout.  I earned every badge offered by both.  I made it up to Life Scout in the Boy Scouts.  I would have made Eagle Scout except our Scoutmaster had to take a different job, so we were without a scoutmaster during those crucial few months and the troop disbanded.  I was a den chief and a patrol leader.

As I understand it, there is a move now to allow girls into the Boy Scouts.  I can’t agree with this idea. The girls involved will be substantially short-changed.

A Brief History of Scouting

Boy Scouts

Former British General Lord Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in England in 1908.  Way back in 1909, American businessman William D. Boyce was lost in a dense London fog.  While trying to get his bearings, a young man stepped out of the fog and offered Boyce assistance.  

The boy took Boyce to his destination.  Boyce offered a tip to the boy, who refused it.  The boy told Boyce that he was a scout and would not take pay for doing a good deed.

Boyce was so impressed that he asked the boy to take him to scout headquarters, where he met Lord Baden Powell.

Girl Scouts

Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low met Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his sister in London.  In 1912, she brought the concept of Girl Scouts, sometimes known as Girl Guides, to the United States.  Many thought girls should not be scouts but should be guides.

Both Boy and Girl Scout movements have evolved over the years.

How I Became a Girl Scout

When I was growing up, my family was very big into scouting.  My mother was a Junior Scout just after World War II. There was little scouting activity at the time. My father was very into scouting when he was a boy.  As a matter of fact, he was coming home from a scout meeting when the Carl the Ghost story happened. I don’t know how high in rank he made it.

My sister started out in Brownie Scouts in Norcross, Georgia. I followed along shortly in the Cub Scouts.  There were no Tiger Scouts or Daisy Scouts back then.

Along the way, we moved from Norcross, Georgia, to Inman, South Carolina.  I was still a Cub Scout at the time and my sister was a Junior Scout.  The church we joined was very much involved in scouting.  My mother became a Girl Scout leader and an Assistant Den Mother in Cub Scouts.  My father became the Pack Master for the Cub Scouts.  

Both my sister and I earned every badge and rank available in our branch of scouts, except I did not make the final Eagle mark as explained earlier.

Since my mother was the Girl Scout Troop Leader, my little brother and I had to attend all the Girl Scout meetings.  I participated in most of the activities and that is how I earned every badge the Girl Scouts had to offer.  They just could not award them to me because I could not officially be a Girl Scout.

I also went to Girl Scout camp and participated in every activity except swimming.

Earning badges in the Boy Scouts was easy for me because the requirements for the Boy Scout badges were very similar to earning the Girl Scout badges.  Sometimes the Girl Scout badges had more requirements than the Boy Scouts.

When we first started out, Girl Scouts sold cookies door-to-door.  The cookies came in and the girls went door-to-door to sell them.  We lived in a fairly safe neighborhood, but my parents did not want my sister to go out on her own selling so, she and I loaded up a wagon and went door-to-door.  

She decided we could sell more cookies if she took one side of the street and I took the other.  I always got the side of the street with the big dogs.  

It was funny.  She was selling left and right.  I was selling almost as much as she was.  When I went to the door and the lady of the house came to the door, I would say I was helping my sister sell Girl Scout cookies. Usually the woman would say something like “How nice” or “How sweet”.

When the man of the house would come to the door, I would tell him, “I have to help my stupid big sister sell these dumb cookies.” He normally would not say much, but would usually buy from me because he felt sorry for me.

Later, they changed to pre-selling cookies.  We would take forms around to different houses and get the people to order the cookies.  When they arrived we would deliver them and get the money for them.  When they totaled up sales by “girl”, my sister was the number one salesperson.  I was number two.  I couldn’t get the prize.

I remember a huge tractor trailer backing up to the door of our house and unloading box upon box of cookies.  The house was 3,000 square feet and it was full from top to bottom with cookies.  The girls would come to the house to get their cookies.  What was left still filled the den, guest bedroom, and a few other rooms.

When I finally made it to eleven years old and was in the sixth grade, I could be a full-fledged Boy Scout.  That was the year that the Boy Scouts changed their manual and no longer required certain knots to obtain rank.  To me it seemed that they had “dumbed down” Boy Scouts.  

Over on the Girl Scout side of things, it was business as usual.  Whereas the boys were playing, the girls were actually learning.  Don’t get me wrong, the Boy Scout troop I was in was one of the most competitive there was.  They often won awards.  

We Boy Scouts practiced pitching tents, camp cooking, navigating by compass (orienting), building fires, and camp craft.

One time we Boy Scouts had a father/son cookout.  The boys cooked a supper for both the father and the son to eat.  Most boys made things like hamburgers or hot dogs.  I made steak in aluminum foil.  This was round steak with potatoes, carrots, and onions, slow cooked in the coals of the campfire.  While the other boys and dads were eating burger flambe, my father and I were enjoying a great steak.  However, I learned that skill in the Girl Scouts.

As a Boy Scout I was a Den Chief and a Patrol Leader.  I was often given a group of younger, less experienced scouts and expected to teach them skills.  

Our patrol had to make fire using flint and steel.  This is a skill that is no longer necessary.  We usually won the competition for this. We had lashing contests and first aid contests. But, the girls had these same tasks and contests.  The skills taught were not different at all.

We boys learned skills like camp first aid.  The girls learned camp first aid and, those that were old enough, went on to get their American Red Cross First Aid certification.

Both boys and girls learned map reading. However, the girls learned how to make and follow different Indian signs.  

We boys went swimming.  The girls learned swimming and lifesaving.  

Both boys and girls learned how to find suitable campsites.  Both learned how to police the area for potential concerns and to return the site to its original condition.  “Take only pictures, leave only foot prints.”

We boys learned how to make a camp with basic rustic amenities.  The girls learned how to set up camp using basic skills and found materials that would provide more of the comforts of home.  

The boys dug a hole to use as a latrine.  The girls dug a hole, but used their lashing skills to make a seat and screen for privacy.  They even made toilet paper holders.  

We boys learned camp cooking, pork and beans, hotdogs, burnt scrambled eggs, lumpy grits, and bacon that could be used as emergency shingles.

The girls learned American chop suey, steak in aluminum foil, baked potatoes, and omelettes.

When we boys went camping, we ran wild.  We had snipe hunts and people often got lost.  Boys turned loose in the woods often wound up getting into trouble doing certain stupid things.  It was a rare camp where a game warden would not show up in camp with a boy or two in tow.

When the girls went camping, they generally maintained a sense of discipline and order.

Remember, the Girl Scouts were organized on the idea that they wanted to be scouts, too.  They were originally told that girls couldn’t be scouts, they could only be guides.  It seems that guiding was the harder job.

When one is scouting, they are blazing a trail through parts unknown with others of similar skills.  When one is guiding, they are following poorly marked trails left by the scouts while leading people with various degrees of skills that usually are not suited for the wilderness.

The guides were tasked with keeping their charges safe and comfortable.  Scouts and guides both had to know how to live off the land.  Guides had to take care of not only themselves, but others.

I have been both a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout.  If you asked me, I would say the skills taught by the Girl Scouts were far superior to that of the Boy Scouts. Don’t blur the lines. Boy Scouts should continue to be exclusively boys and Girl Scouts should be exclusively girls.  Many potential problems and liabilities will be avoided this way.

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  1. That is interesting, it does sound like Girl Scouts learn more. My cat, Sammy is a Cat Scout ( yes, it is a real thing :) )

    1. I thought so when I was a Girl Scout. I wondered about the Cat Scouts. The Boy Scouts were great, but we learned more in the Girl Scouts. Have a Merry Christmas.


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