Thursday, 17 November 2011

It's No Band Camp

Oh those eeevil Girl Scouts and their perverse manifestos of liberalism. Or so goes the American Townhall version of the Church Lady , Rebecca Hegelin, who seems to have made a personal cause of exposing the dangers of feminism. Thankfully, she has a solution for all good Christian parents horrified that their daughters might be exposed to the deadly virus of getting along with the Other. The American Heritage Girls.

No, not these although that's where I free-associated first, courtesy of a bland tv movie stuck in my mental rolodex. The live version (although how much livelier I can't say) of these.

I am a bad, *bad* person, because I pretty much instantaneously Godwinned on the name. It gives off such a comfy, Frauenschaft aura, although the badges are likely less impressive. Trying to be less mean spirited, I have to say that socially conservative Christians certainly have the right to form social organizations where they would enjoy the activities in an environment uncluttered by rampant inclusion. But this one paragraph in Hegelin's enthusiastic advertisement stopped me from believing they intend anything in the way of minding their own children's business.

"The AHG walk in the company of good friends. In 2009, AHG and the Boy Scouts of America created an historic partnership between the two groups—the first alliance between the Boy Scouts and any young women’s organization." (emphasis mine) "As a practical matter, this means that sponsoring churches or schools can offer an appealing combination to families--aligned programs for both boys and girls. Check out the list of additional AHG partners here. It’s a wholesome and dynamic selection."

That means in all the mutual decades of existence, the Boy Scouts of America have never-ever had a partnership with the Girl Scouts of America? But they're now partnered with this preeningly overt Christian organization for the 'proper' socializing of girls? I know the Boy Scouts are a Christian organization as well, but I'm also aware the defense excusing the manifesto is the BSA's religious monoculture will bounce off kids like water off a duck's back. Until it doesn't because Christian morals are good for everyone. What could possibly go wrong?

When I was young, an eon or so ago, the only sort of kids' camp available fell into two categories. Scouts or a separate permanent holiday spot located near Outlook, Saskatchewan. Scouts of either sex not being a steady presence in every community, my parents managed to scrape up enough money one year so I could attend one of the sessions at Outlook.

Wowzers, a real camp. Just like on tv. When I arrived is when it dawned on me the place was overtly Christian and activities were threaded through with religion. I didn't have a bad time, albeit disappointed in lack of 'me and this pen knife' fire-starting and the like, but I was a stubborn little poop pile uninterested in the 'message' being fed to us. Every meal, song sessions, fireside activities; even symbols in crafts classes were Christian-themed.

I went along to get along but also discovered that kids around me were a lot more serious about the believing. Which, ahem, led to enriching an atmosphere of supernatural gullibility so that several of them thought Satan was messing with campers by being the cause of accident-injuries among the camp population. What? It's not my fault so many got upset enough an all-camp 'exercise' class on the common was cancelled after the latest fall and serious sprain occurred.

I was glad to go home to the back forty of the farm and didn't go to camp again. Ever since, I've harboured a dislike of the fact that in many rural and economically challenging situations, the only outlets for such social kid activities all too often comes with the hidden hook of religion and all its socially strictured intersections.

And then those religiously-based organizations whine and complain about groups like the Girl Scouts putting girls first, not their religion, thus *ruining* the unchallenged mores that scooped in so many with nowhere else to go.

h/t Whiskeyfire


Anonymous said...

Gah! Niles - you've just exhumed a word so deeply buried in my brain - VESPERS!

Once upon a time, I was dispatched to summer camp. All was cool and fun until 7 PM rolled around & then this weird-ass prayer circle thing would break out...this was a United Church camp...half an hour later they'd be serving up dinner and acting natural...


Beijing York said...

Great post, Niles. A woman I worked with and admired was very involved with the executive running of the Girl Scouts of Canada. That made me re-think my prior negative view of the organization.

That said, I only lasted 3 weeks in Brownies when I was a wee one. Never went to camp and I'm amazed that my parents let me quit after investing in the outfit - the brown shirt and skirt plus scarf attire. I think part of them (or mostly my dad) recognized the group as being WASPish and figured I was better off without them.

My younger brother was with the Cubs and quit shortly after a camping trip that again required my parents to buy basic camp gear in addition to the uniform. Again, maybe they wanted us to reject these groups on own terms.

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