TO BEaver or not TO BEaver…

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The wife and I were having a discussion a while ago about if it would be a good idea for BB and possibly LB further down the line, to attend something such as Beavers.

For those that are unaware, ‘Beavers’ and ‘Cubs’ is a pre-cursor to ‘Scouts’. For those even more unaware, ‘Scouts’ is an organisation for children and adults which tries to teach people new skills, both life skills and those needed in nature such as orientation and building.
Ages break down like this…
Beavers (ages 6–8)
Cubs (ages 8-10½)
Scouts (ages 10½–14)
Explorer Scouts (ages 14–18)

Those groups were mostly made up of boy and then there was female equivalents such as Rainbow, Brownies (of my wife was a member and also volunteered as a grown up) and girl guides. When I grew up Beavers, cubs and scouts were boys groups and Rainbows, Brownies and guides were girl groups. In recent years, this has changed and although boys are not allowed to join the girls groups, girls are now welcomed in the boys groups. I’m not sure the reason for this but that’s possibly a whole different blog post.

These groups allow kids to gain new skills and socialise with kids of a similar age. So why wouldn’t I want my kids to join a group such as beavers and learn some vital life skills? One word. Religion.

Now, this isn’t an argument about the validity of any religion, this isn’t the place for that so if you want to bible bash or bash the bible, move along, but as a non-believer myself I find myself uncomfortable with the idea that my child will have religion pushed upon him by going to these groups. My wife and I have differing opinions on this. I believe these groups were founded with religion as a big part of it and so they promote religion and in groups such as this, there is no place for such a thing. My wife believes this used to be the case and they have become less about religion.

If my kids ask me about religion I tell them what I think I would have wanted to hear. Some people believe this, some people believe that and it’s up to them, when they are old enough to understand the reasons why, to decide what they wish to believe. So, putting them in a group that is so ‘Pro’ religion doesn’t quite sit right with me.

When you view the information on the Scouts website, they say this about religion….
The Scout Association is an inclusive and values-based Movement. Membership is open to young people and adults of all faiths and beliefs, including the absence of an affirmed faith, humanists or atheists, who share our values. Our values are integrity, respect, care, belief and cooperation. A key element of the programme is spiritual development and exploring different faiths, beliefs and attitudes. There are a range of variations of the Promise (a commitment made by all members), to account for different age ranges, faith and beliefs and nationalities (including those who are stateless).

My point is why include religion at all? I understand they are trying to be inclusive of all faiths and beliefs but wouldn’t it be easier to simply not involve religion?

I don’t however want my kids to miss out on something because of my beliefs and again it isn’t about that, it’s about me wanting my kids to be able to make up their own mind and not be swayed one way or another.

Just so I am clear, I am a supporter of groups that offer all the things that these groups can offer, my only “issue” is how religion is or isn’t involved. To find out more about any of these groups and find one in your local area, visit  http://members.scouts.org.uk/ for the Scouts Association or https://www.girlguiding.org.uk/ for the Girl Guides Association.

So my question I guess is this. Have you ever been a Beaver, Cub or even a Brownie? Do your kids attend any of these groups? If so, how much does religion play a part and is this in line with what you want your kids to believe?

 

4 comments

  1. I had the very same thoughts. Starts with not being sure I want them going to a group founded on religion followed by, ‘ooh, they’ve gone camping. For a weekend!’

    Speaking to parents whose kids go to Beavers there seems little to no religious tones beyond those I share anyway such as tolerance and inclusiveness. So I’ve left it up to the kids if they want to go.

  2. It was interesting to read your post. I’m inclined to agree with your wife (although don’t have first hand experience of the groups today), that the religious element isn’t really a big force in these groups.

    Since they claim to promote understanding of all faiths why do you feel uneasy letting your sons go there if you want them to evaluate different faiths and come to a conclusion themselves? If your sons go to a secular primary school then that would be the same approach taken by the RE lessons and assemblies there – i.e. exposure to all faiths without promoting one particular one?

    I blog about parenting and faith (Christianity) and while I would love our boys to grow up believing the same things I really think it’s important for them to be exposed to all different worldviews, both so they can draw their own conclusions but also to encourage empathy and understanding of people who believe different things.

    I enjoyed reading your post, it was thought provoking! 🙂

  3. my daughter is a Daisy scout, what we call the step before Brownies here in the States. I’m also uncomfortable with the oath and some of the tenets relating to promises to God, but I think these have been a part of scouting since the beginning. When the Boy Scouts changed their policy and started allowing gay members I decided that the benefits outweigh the parts that I don’t agree with. Not sure if thats a cop out or pragmatism though

  4. I was never in these groups as a child, but both my boys have attended from Beavers. My eldest is now an Explorer and my younger son is nearing the end of his time at Scouts (he will go on to Explorers). My daughter did Rainbows, but opted not to do Brownies. Earlier this year, she became a Scout, despite never going to Beavers or Cubs.
    I have to say that my kids have gained a huge amount from being a part of Scouting and have experienced things they would never otherwise experience (mainly camps and hikes). The amount of activities they do at Scout camps is incredible and it teaches them life skills – cooking, washing up etc, as well as being responsible for themselves and their friends.
    Religion is never mentioned by the kids. They have the option to attend two church services a year – Mother’s Day and Remembrance, and it really is an OPTION. My eldest chooses to attend, my younger son chooses not to. That is entirely his choice.
    I would say, give it a go! You don’t know what your kids are missing out unless you try. And if you don’t like it, you haven’t lost anything.

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