Spinoff: Scout Leaders

Updated on January 30, 2013
S.G. asks from Beverly Hills, CA
13 answers

When I read through the responses to the scout leader question I saw a few moms say that men should only be scout leaders if they have a son in the troop. Is this a common point of view? Is it not usual for boy scouts to grow up and want to use the knowledge gained in scouts to lead troops themselves, regardless of whether or not they have children? What if a man becomes a scout leader while his son is in the troop, and he enjoys being a scout leader, does he have to stop when his son leaves the troop? I think that there are lots of men who do not have children,(or perhaps have daughters or sons who aren't interested in scouting) who would have something to contribute to the organization. Or younger men who have not yet married. Or older men whose children have grown. Or gay men. When my sons go to school the teachers aren't necessarily parents, on sports teams the coaches aren't parents, the councellors at summer camp aren't parents, so why would the boy scout leader have to be a parent? I would rather have the boy scout leader be someone who is skilled as a boy scout leader than someones dad who just happened to volunteer. Same as I would rather have a skilled soccer coach who doesn't have a child on the team than a team mates dad who is "winging it".

So, I guess my question is are you uncomfortable having a scout leader who doesn't have a son in the troop, and why?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Jo W. I know that Scouts Canada is a different organization, but we do not discriminate against women here. In fact, girls have been allowed in Scouts since 1998.

I think it is great when parents volunteer to do this, but really, if I paid to put my kids in scouts I would rather they learn from someone other than their dad. They go camping with dad all the time. Scouts would be a time to be away from dad!

My kids have been on soccer teams where parent volunteers coached, and also on teams where university students coached. The university students were way better.

My best friend has been a girl guide leader and a cadet leader for the past 20 years. She was a leader for years before her own kids joined, and has remained a leader for years since her kids have left. She also used to volunteer as a Big Sister. Some adults just volunteer to work with kids because they are good at it and it makes them feel good to make a difference in the life of a child.

Featured Answers



answers from Boston on

I was a Boy scout leader for 5 years. My friend Mary was Scout Master and her husband was also a leader. All the Scout leaders I met were women. When the camping part started I saw more men. But the women ran most activities. We had men that their children had already become Eagle Scouts that were still really involved. I would not be uncomfortable with a leader who did not have a child in Scouts. I mean the man would have been already known and had been around for a long time so usually the parents and kids would have known him or her anyway. You just don't join Scouts as a grown up, there is lots of training classes you have to do, I mean years of training to camp and to lead. I started as a Cub Scout leader....but only after getting my badges and proper training. People would get to know you and have trust. And I could care less if someone was gay or a women or man.
They have junior leaders, all this is earned. Everything you do in Scouts is a lesson about life, leadership, honesty, being proud of who they are and so on.

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Boston on

I think that anytime you really limit the people who can volunteer, you have to ask yourself if you are keeping out someone who would be awesome and beneficial, and if you are setting up some kind of "safeguard" that is a true one or a false one. Does it give you a false sense of security that the leader is a dad? Why? Are there no dads who have been pedophiles? Of course we want to protect our children from predators, and those who seek positions (professional or volunteer) with our young people need to be checked out, vetted, and perhaps have criminal background checks. That's cumbersome but some people feel it's necessary. Keeping out gays is ridiculous - gays are no more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals. In fact, the Boy Scouts are actually responding to public pressure to stop discrimination because so many people are pulling their kids out of scouting and not supporting any fundraisers.

Having a dad involved is great - great for the son, great for the dad. That's one kid who at least gets to activities on time! LOL. And it teaches kids that stepping up to volunteer is so important. But people should volunteer where their talents are. That dad might be much better as the church choir director or the classroom newsletter writer than as the scout leader.

Meanwhile there are many terrific volunteers and former Scouts who believe in it and have so much to offer. They have organizational skills, team building skills, creativity in helping to design merit badge projects, community contacts, camping skills, and more. It's essential that we show our young people that it's important to be involved in your community whether or not you have a child that age - "it takes a village" and all that. Being a dad doesn't automatically give you abilities, compassion, leadership skills, or even a pass that says "I'm safe around kids."

And what about the kids who don't have a dad? Why should they feel that they can't have an important person in their life to serve as troop leader? It's also (sometimes) hard for the parent troop leader (or soccer coach or Sunday school teacher...) to be objective sometimes. There may be favoritism or the appearance of it, sometimes a particular dad may be much harder on his own kid. So it's all about the individual.

So, yes, we want our kids to be safe - but we have to be honest about being able to "tell" if someone is a nice person or an abuser. Their credentials as dad (or as we know from the news, as priest or as counselor or as teacher or as youth worker) don't, by themselves, indicate the risk or absence of risk.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

I agree.

I know when we I worked with a young man with developmental disabilities he wanted to do scouts. Our church at that time had an organized scout troop with a person actually having the calling/job of being that leader.

This young man was just under 10 so he did the younger version. His leader was a woman. She had all the kids in our ward in her group. She didn't have any kids in the group but is the mom of about 8 kids and each of her boys were Eagle Scouts. If they had said the person in charge of this group had to have a child in the group then we would have missed out on all the wonderful adventures we went on to museums, to do service at parks, learning to do so many things. She knew what was fun and how to present stuff that wasn't so much fun so that it would be well received.

This would hold true across the board. Our leaders for the older boys were all Eagle Scouts in their own day. They had roofed houses, built wheelchair ramps, done so much for their communities. Why shouldn't they have the opportunity to lead a group even if they don't have children that age.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

In the troop, yes. I know they allow older sibs to help out but you have to be part of the child's family. The thing is there are plenty of positions in scouting, that are needed and sometimes go unfilled, that are not part of a troop.

The thing is though, if none of the dads in a troop can be a leader I don't see why a troop can't pick someone they trust.

What I find strange about all this talk is no one seems to care that women are discriminated against in boy scouts, and men in girl scouts. That seems odd to me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I have been heavily involved in both Boy and Girl Scouts (more so in Girl Scouts) for many years and I have never met a leader who wasn't also a parent. There have been some people who stayed on in another capacity once their kids were no longer in troops (day camp director, historian, etc.) but none as leaders.
I guess I would find it a little strange, only because it is such a huge commitment being a leader, and what motivates most of us is the bond and quality time spent with our children and their friends. Leading a troop of kids I didn't have that connection with would just feel, strange.
Same has been true with sports. ALL of my kids' coaches were also parents, the volunteer ones that is. When they did travel/club and high school sports they had paid, professional coaches.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My daughter was in girl scouts for four years, and I was troop leader for one year. In Girl Scouts, a father (or a male without a daughter in the troop) is absolutely allowed to volunteer, even for a troop leader position. Whether the troop leader or assistant leader is male or female, no adult volunteer is allowed to supervise the troop by themselves, there must also be a second adult present.

I have absolutely NO problem with a troop leader that doesn't have a child on the troop. In fact, last year, my co-leader had just graduated college with a teaching degree and wanted to get some experience with kids, so she volunteered for girl scouts. She didn't have any children. The year before that, our leader was a single lady without kids who had been in girl scouts her entire life, and wanted to lead a troop. She was also a teacher. I don't see any problem with that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

My neighbor is married and although he and his wife have been trying for a few years to have children, they haven't had any luck. He's a Scout leader and has been for a few years now since this particular group of boys started. The reason D is a leader is because he is a lifelong scout himself and it's always been extremely important to him to pass his knowledge on whether he has children or not. Those boys mean everything to him and his wife, who will often go along to help chaperon field trips and camping trips.

Why should D be punished just because biology and fertility aren't cooperating with them? A childless leader isn't creepy. It just means that they have a story as to why they don't have children of their own.

I think it's extremely closed-minded and short-sighted to expect that only fathers ought to be Boy Scout Leaders. The same can be said for Girl Scout Leaders not having to be only mothers. It's a ridiculously narrow minded expectation.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Lincoln on

I realize that this isn't completely related, but I live in a rural area where we don't always have fathers or as many male volunteers as we need to run our troop or cub scout pack, so we also have several mothers that have gone to all of the training and are also leaders. I for one have learned a lot of life skills learning to be a scout leader! I would highly recommend trying it! I would have no problem with a male with no children in our troop being a leader. We have a "graduated" scout that has come back to our area that is very active in our troop again as a leader who is a great role model for our kids. There are several troops around us who also have leaders who have stayed involved after their kids graduated and moved on just to pass on their experience and love of scouting to more kids. If a person has doubt as to why a person is involved, sit down and talk to that leader. I have yet to find a leader that hasn't been willing to sit and talk about their troop/reason for leading/ideals. I am glad my boys are scouts and find it an enriching part of all of our lives! Hope you have the same experience!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

The current leader of my daughters' GS troop has no children. She's a great leader and does a lot for the organization. She has 3 co-leaders (2 had kids in the troop but their girls are now in college, and one has no children but is a former member of the troop). Personally, I think it's better than having a mom run the troop.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Just another exclusionary policy.

Not sure but it might be an instance of parents-stay-in-control-so-I-can-monitor-everything-that-happens dynamic.

We don't "do" scouts. My sons friend is in a group whoch consists of him, his cousin and his uncle. Woo Hoo. Seems lame.

ETA: I think it's ironic that people are missing the FACT that the BSA knowingly and willfully covered up miuntains of molestation while denying membership rights to LGBT people!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Duluth on

My son is a Scout, and while his leader is a dad, we are also very lucky in that he's an Eagle Scout, a Life Scout and VERY (almost too...) interested in scouting. I completely agree with what you're saying, on every level. I think that Scouting--like every activity for children--should have something in place to deal with creeps, but Boy Scouts in particular has been pretty proactive on this front lately. But, obviously, there are plenty of leaders who are not creeps and would make excellent role models for boys. I STRONGLY believe that children do not have enough role models these days; parents and friend's parents make up most of the adults they know and these are PARENT figures, not role models for the kids--they need adults they can look up to without seeing "mom" or "dad". (Not at all to say that parent leaders aren't good too. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Baton Rouge on

I have no problem with a scout leader who does't have a kid in the troop or even one who does't have kids at all. If they're good with kids, who cares if they're actually a parent?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I agree with you. My kids don't do scouting, but there are many other areas of their lives where they have had the chance to be around good male role models. For two of the 5 years one of my sons has played hockey, the coaches were young men in their 20's without kids and there have been other coaches and assistants in other sports who were just looking for a way to share their passion for the sport and stay active themselves. Two of my sons currently have religious education instructors who are teens - one in high school, one in college. About half the staff members (and the owner/director) of their after-school program, a wildly successful facility that runs classes from ages infant through 8th grade including a pre-school and summer camp, are men. The owner now has young children but he didn't when he first took over the business from his parents and the other guys are mostly single with no kids. Right now all of the principals of the schools my kids go to are men and there are quite a few male teachers even at the elementary level (with a much higher % in high school). A friend's husband has been coaching basketball since his early 20's, long before getting married and having kids. A friend who has only daugthers has a husband who, after years of coaching his girls, has been asked to start coaching a boys' soccer team as well.

I think it's sad that we assume that all men who want to spend time with children are predators, yet we don't think it strange when women want to share their talents and passions with children.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions