During my recent outing there happened to be a boy scout meeting going on at the same time.
They seemed like nice people when I returned a lost "be prepared" patch (Ouch! The irony) to them.
Later I watched from a distance as a group of them were shown how to carry a federal flag. And as they practiced what they were learning.
I saw nothing useful being taught, then or any time.
Then I asked a couple of scouts if they were being taught wilderness skills or anything. They said they weren't.
Well, one said they were taught "survival knots". Sigh.
So I asked, more specifically, if they were being taught firestarting for example. They said they weren't. They said they can't learn that until they earn a badge for it, nor can they carry a knife until they have a "knife badge".
I asked how they are supposed to learn something to earn a badge if they aren't being taught and aren't allowed to practice. They looked at me like lost puppies, shrugged, and said they didn't know.
Sorry, but that's just disgusting.
I went back the next day to offer to demonstrate some actual skills to the group, but they were already gone. I suspected they might be by the lack of noise. (I will say I was impressed at how little litter such a large group left behind. Very unusual.)
OK, so maybe the scouts I asked were misrepresenting the situation. Maybe most troops are being taught more skills. Maybe these were "too young" to be learning such things (no, they really weren't, but you and I both know in the year 2015 "childhood" is being stretched and prolonged beyond all reason, to the detriment of the kids). Maybe this example was not representative in some other way.
But if it is, scouting needs more competition.
I'd love to start a new kind of scouting: Browncoat Scouts.
Each group could choose who to allow in- freedom of association needs to be respected. Instead of "God & Country" I'd teach them that "right" is more important that "legal", and is often unrelated to what is presented as "moral" by religions. I'd teach them that loyalty isn't to be given automatically, but is earned. I'd teach them the importance of an honest deal resulting in a profit, and how there is no loser, but two winners, in such an interaction. I'd teach them that authority, including mine, is usually an empty illusion. There is a difference between a leader and a ruler, and almost all "authority" is nothing but rulers. And I'd teach them the importance of learning the proper way to handle weapons, fire, and other survival skills and tools. And, over all, the importance of never initiating force or theft.
I told my daughter she could be the first ever Browncoat Scout.
-Update 5-19-2015: And it just gets more ridiculous all the time. link