I have issues with the Girl Scouts. There, I've said it. Seeing as how I am a card-carrying member of the Girl Scouts -- a Daisy Leader no less -- I am sure they are going to knock on my door any minute and kick me out. I don't have issues with my local Girl Scout peeps -- I love them -- I just have issues with the national organziation. I'd probably be just fine and even forget they exist on a national level, if they didn't keep sending me these darn catalogs reminding me that I really don't like them very much. Argh!
A little background. I'm married to an Eagle Scout. My third grader is in his third year of Cub Scouts and my husband, the Eagle Scout, is his den leader. It would not be a stretch to say, "I love the Cub/Boy Scouts." I love that my son promises every week to do his duty to God and country and to help other people and to obey the law of the pack (follow directions from the leader and be a good Cub Scout). I love the values he's learning, and I love that he will get a pocketknife and learn how to use it safely this year. Seeing as how my brother got his first B.B. gun and a course in hunter safety at age 7, a pocketknife at 9 that comes with safety instructions is not cause for alarm for me.
Back to Girl Scouts (hereby known as G.S.) I thought long and hard about letting my daughter join G.S. I researched the organization, and frankly what I found I did not like. I knew they had kicked God out a while back. (He now has an * beside His name.) They bowed to secular pressure. I get it. They aren't the first organization, and sadly won't be the last, that goes along to get along. But it doesn't mean I have to like it.
Dropping their Christian Heritage is just one of the things I found about the national G.S. organization that I do not like. Since this post is about making hard decisions as a parent and not about politics, I will not get into all of the things I don't like. You can always Google it youself. Suffice it to say that as a whole, the national G.S. organization is very liberal, and I am not. In fact, I am pretty conservative.
So, here's the hard questions I faced, "Do I let my child be part of a group that doesn't share our family's values?" Or, "Do I disappoint my daughter and make her miss out on an opportunity to grow and learn with other girls her age." Yes, I realize there was another option. I could have started a "Christian-based" scouting group for my daughter and this would have solved my dilemma. There is a great one out there that is not yet in my community. To start the group here would have taken countless hours and support from a local church and many volunteers. I researched it and prayed about it and decided it just wasn't the time for me to do it. It would have taken time away from my family and away from any other volunteer activity I might want to do, and frankly, I didn't have the energy. But I do admit that every time I read about it, I wish my daughter was a part of it instead of G.S.
My mother had the same dilemma when I was growing up. She chose not to let me join Brownies, because she did not agree with the leader's morals and values. (This was before the organization as a whole became really liberal.) Lets just say the leader wasn't the type of woman my mother wanted me spending time with. I was a little bit upset with my mom because I was missing out, and I thought she was being judgemental -- she told me why I couldn't join. But I was also relieved. She wasn't like any of the other moms I knew and her brashness made me nervous. When I was older, my mom told me that she had tried to see if I could be in another troop, but there wasn't one. She decided that it was better for me to miss out on that opportunity than to let me be influenced by a woman who did not share her values. As a mom now, I really respect her decision.
But the situation with my daughter is a little different. She was desperate to be a scout. Remember the Eagle Scout dad and Cub Scout brother? So I really felt that it wouldn't be fair to keep her from being a scout. But obviously I was concerned about what she would be learning in scouts. So what's a mom to do? Why, volunteer to co-lead the group of course.
So now I'm the crazy mother of three co-leading 13 girls in a G.S. troop, and I really like it when I'm not worn out by it. I am not only shaping my daughter's values, I'm helping shape those of 12 other little girls and that's a responsibility I take seriously. And the good thing about G.S. in my small town is that the other leaders are awesome women who love the girls and whose values match my own. And when you lead a G.S. troop, you can kind of make it whatever you want. So right now, I'm taking what I think is good about G.S. and leaving the rest. My troop is made up of first graders, so as long as we have a snack and play a game, they are pretty happy. But we're also learning about virtues like honesty, kindness, helpfulness, being responsible for what we say and do, using resources wisely and being a sister to every Girl Scout, which is the really good part of Girl Scouts.
I'm pretty sure that other hard decisions I'll have to make for my children won't turn out with every body being happy, if tired, but this one did. So I'll chalk this up as a success and keep nurturing (and yes sheltering) my daughter as long as I can.