Be prepared

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” (The Boy Scout Oath)

And now they are going to be sexually educated.

Here’s an article from the Daily Record (UK):

Boy scouts to be given sex advice and free condoms

BOY Scouts are set to be offered condoms and taken on trips to sexual health clinics.

But the new guidlines by the Scout Association have angered traditionalists.

The SA suggest visits to sex clinics for explorer scouts, aged 14 to 18.

The new policy will apply to all age groups, aged 10 and up. But leaders of beavers and cubs – for kids aged six to 10 – are told that it’s unlikely they will need to take “positive action”.

The Chief Scout, former Blue Peter star Peter Duncan, said: “We must be realistic and accept that around a third of young people are sexually active before 16. We have a duty to promote safe and responsible relationships.”

The new guidance says scout leaders can give out condoms but “only if they believe the young person is very likely to begin or continue having intercourse with or without contraception”. It says leaders should “encourage young people to resist pressure to have early sex”.

A visit to, or by, a sexual health clinic may help to “break illusions”.

The association acted after last year’s centenary World Jamboree in Essex, attended by around 40,000 boys and girls. Leaders asked for guidance on how to deal with requests from the youngsters for advice on sex.

In his book Scouting For Boys, the movement’s founder Lord Baden Powell advised any boys who feel sexual urges to “wash your parts in cold water and cool them down”.

He later wrote that young men should not indulge “primitive sexual urges” but should put their energies into “hiking and the enjoyment of the out-of-door manly activities” rather than “aimless loafing and smutty talks”.

Yesterday, ex-shadow health secretary Ann Widdecombe said: “This is not what parents expect of the Scout Association. They are sending their children off to a leisure activity, not for sex education.”

But Beverley Hughes, Minister for Young People, said: “We warmly welcome this new sexual health guide.”

There are no plans to award badges for sex education.

Growing up in a rural area in southern New England, I have fond memories of the Boy Scouts. I was a Cub Scout for several years, then grew too old for that sort of thing. But I joined the Boy Scouts when I was 13 because one in particular spent a lot of time hiking and camping – which was a great excuse to spend a lot of time away from home.

I stayed in until I was almost 18, which seemed particularly uncool in the 1970s, but as we had a very unconventional troop, it was okay. When the scoutmaster had to retire for medical reasons, the two or three of us who were older took over his duties – not unlike the situation in the movie Stripes. I learned first aid, survival camping techniques, marksmanship (back in the pre-PC days when you could touch a rifle outside of a museum), and how to keep one’s cool under disadvantageous circumstances. For instance, how to hide the weed and Boone’s Farm wine when the regional director showed up for surprise inspections.

The Scouts get a bad rap when people make jokes about pedophile scoutmasters and campfire circle jerks; I never saw any of that, nor did I even hear any rumors to that effect in my district. For the most part, the scouts were just normal guys who enjoyed hiking, camping, and doing something more interesting than hanging out at the local schoolyard trying to sneak a smoke. I imagine that it’s much different today now that most kids have all sorts of things with which to occupy their time.

And that whole gay scoutmaster flap a few years ago? The Scouts are run by adults, and troops are generally tied in with a local elementary school or a church. Like most youth organizations, they barely have enough people willing to volunteer their time and resources to be troop leaders. The kids themselves don’t care who takes them hiking, canoing, or to the Jamborees, they just want to have fun. It was only a matter of time before the organization figured out their priorities.

Many years ago, the Scout Handbook mentioned, with regard to masturbation, that while it might feel exciting to young boys, it would eventually “cause them to worry,” that is, to feel guilty and preoccupied. And while I’m opposed in principle to organizations sexually educating children without the consent of parents (for instance, public schools), the fact that these are young teen boys in a groups in which their parents can remove them (should they be morally opposed) does not strike me as a major issue. I imagine what will strike most people, though, is the seeming disconnect between the idea (ideal?) of a squeaky clean, morally upright Scout learning about condoms.

The sooner we, as a society, can kick off the notion that morality is tied to sexuality (or more specifically, sexual enjoyment among consenting partners), the better off we will all be.

~ by Tom Allen on October 29, 2008.

14 Responses to “Be prepared”

  1. [...] Allen informs us about the Boy Scouts’ decision to include (some) sex ed topics in their program. Tom has this to say about the move, which I can’t second strongly enough: The sooner we, as [...]

  2. The sooner we, as a society, can kick off the notion that morality is tied to sexuality (or more specifically, sexual enjoyment among consenting partners), the better off we will all be.

    Here, here!

    There are no plans to award badges for sex education.

    This is exactly why DIY sites were invented. I totally want a sex education badge!

  3. http://pbfcomics.com/?cid=PBF191-Boy_Scouts.gif

    Well, isn’t that just accurate now?

  4. I agree.

    Anyway, one of my main memories of the Scouts was sitting up in tents late at night drinking cider and discussing the mythical world of sex…

  5. Enna, the cartoon was funny – sorta – but only because it plays on the fears of what some do-gooders are afraid of happening.

    Like Crushed, I have a lot of memories of camping out and talking about girls after some of the younger Scouts had gone off to their tents. We’d compare notes with each other (not that there was much to compare) and try to guess at the parts we didn’t understand. Very much like how things are today, except that there weren’t a hundred different books and a thousand different educational sites for us. We had to make do with what we could cobble together form discarded Playboy and Hustler magazines.

    May – Yoking sexuality to morality is what allows a society to stone gays, and run those “living in sin” out of town on a rail.

    My state recently passed an “OK” for gay marriage, and while the reaction was minimal, there was a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth beforehand among some people. I understand that some may have religious objections to this, but maybe this is a good time for you examine the why behind those objections.

  6. Since so many parents don’t seem to want to broach the subject these days, I find it interesting that they’re usually the first to complain. I applaud the scouts to do this. The better educated our kids are now, the better decisions they can hopefully make later.

    But I have to chuckle about what that merit badge would look like…

  7. They wont take an atheist as a leader.

  8. A phallic merit badge………I love it.

    Tom,
    Thanks for clearing out the deadwood blogs. It’s much appreciated.

  9. V – I just spent 2 freakin’ hours checking the links. 40 blogs that have not posted in months made the AWOL list, and over a dozen have closed, went private, or let the domain name lapse. I try to do this once a quarter, but had gotten a few months behind. I’m just surprised that anybody noticed.

    Uni Steve – So? What’s your point?
    The Boy Scouts are a private organization, and as such, are allowed to associate with whomever they want, and to set the standards for their own membership.
    If it makes you feel any better, they probably do not accept people who participate in Satanic worship services, either.

  10. @Tom Allen:

    I understand that some may have religious objections to this, but maybe this is a good time for you examine the why behind those objections.

    I think a good time to examine things like this is called breakfast. To everyone who doesn’t do this all the time, I have this message: you’re doing it wrong.

  11. I did see the article that children in England were going to be educated on sex ed starting at age 5… in response to their huge teen pregnancy problem. Just go slow and do it appropriately.

    Regarding the Scouts; I’ve never had such fun, flying in helicopters, 50 mile backpack adventures, rappelling from high points 50 feet from the ground… all while learning leadership, citizenship, and fitness… none of which I confused with my own sexuality. Go Scouts!

  12. GO – How could I forget my 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail from Mass to Conn? We didn’t have helicopters in this area, although one of our camps was near a small airfield and we got to go up in the small planes once in a while.

    Funny, i.e., sad, how things have changed. Adults are *never* allowed to be with the boys in a one-on-one situation, and the boys need a minimum number of adults to supervise a troop at all times.

    My daughter is a Girl Scout, and over the summer they had a camp out. I helped to set up the tents, and one of them had those cool fiberglass interior frames. I was inside the tent trying to figure it out with one of the girls when the troop leader cautioned me that we had to be separated – “Nothing personal, Mr. Allen, but we have our rules.”

    It was broad daylight and I was surrounded by no less than 16 other people, all within 30 feet.

    I’m sure that there is a point here, but I’m just not sure what it might be.

  13. Tom! I so agree! Lets get over our sexuality connected to morality issues. And consider…for a moment, what if the scout master was teaching them how to properly put out a campfire….or do CPR….or any other lifesaving measure. Well, the life they are saving are their own and their partners. Good for the Boy Scouts…now teach it to the Girl Scouts please! (I know…that does not sound right…but women need to know this too!!) HUG TO YOU….Dee

  14. First, thanks for the insightful blogs. I’m short on time this morning, so I apologize if you have already discussed this topic. I workout 5 / wk with a combination of kickboxing, boxing, weights, and associated conditioning exercise. I’m also a submissive and my Dominant and I are introducing chastity. I’ve worn the device now for 7 days – I had some experience before. But, we agreed it would be removed only for my workouts. This seems to work well and allows me to keep clean. Do you or have you read any other advice you can share on chastity and those very committed to fitness / athletics?

    Thanks!

    m

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