A reader sent in this question:
I am currently a boys den leader and was last year for my sons and their friends. Our pack went the family scouting route and girls have been invited to join. When this was rolled out we were told that dens would remain single gender. Now that we are starting the new year and there has been some interest with girls, I feel the pack committe is starting to (and will put more) pressure on me to provide mixed gender meetings and events at the den level. When asked if I’ll be a girl den leader (since I was the only registerd female den leader last year), I’ve said “No, I have boys and I’l stick with my boy den”. Any other comments on the matter, I’ve put off. It looks like there may be 2 girls in 3rd year interested. If they enroll (since waiting to here), on paper they will be in a seperate den, though not sure on their leadership. In reality I feel like the pressure will be on me to provide a mixed gender program. While our pack committe chair is female, last year I was the only female den leader. This year I know of one other who has agreed to be the female kindergarten leader. I’ve discreetly polled my den, who all returned from last year and there were no new 3rd grade boys who signed up. The families are split about 50/50 on their comfort of having female scouts at our meetings. One of my male assistent den leaders is very for it the other not so much. While I know many may not agree, I don’t see why the boys den needs to provide a place for the girls, as they are supposed to be in seperate dens. I am not comfortable being a girl den leader on paper and my families are split on their opinion to have girls at our meeting/events. Just knowing that all families aren’t onboard, I have a hard time agreeing to provide. And while I personally feel that it is good the program is being offered, one of the reason we stayed with the pack was that we were told the boys and girls would be in seperate dens and continue to do activities with their den. At the same time, until girls in scouting takes off what do you do with the 1-2 girls interested? My question how do I proceed? I want my den to remain all boys and since my families are not in agreement with allowing girls, I don’t see an easy solution. Thanks for your help!
Thanks for the question. First of all, I never like to hear that a den leader is being pressured to do something he or she does not want to do. Scouting should be a cooperative effort between the volunteers. Unless somebody is really breaking some rules, then there is no reason to be making our fellow Scouters do something they don’t want to do.
Boy dens are boy dens and girl dens are girl dens. Now I don’t have a problem with dens doing some things together IF there is agreement that this is what is best for the youth. So if a boy den and a girl den want to go on a joint visit to the police station and that works out best for everyone, then do it. The same is true for different levels. If there is an advantage to your Bears and Wolves doing something jointly, then that is OK.
This is going to be a learning process, but I don’t think we should be forcing boys and girls together out of convenience. Boys and girls develop at different rates and their are significant advantages to letting them have their own dens. If there are two girls who sign up, then they are a girl den. They can still work the program together. And maybe they can find a friend or two who will join them. Dens don’t have to be large. We have had dens as small as three boys in our pack. They had their own meetings. It does take a dedicated den leader, but it can be a lot of fun also. But they need an actual den leader, not just somebody on paper. Maybe somebody can be recruited. If not, perhaps your pack is not ready to welcome girls.
Readers, what do you think? Add your comments below