Kirby: Hey Boy Scouts: Men can't come of age with women watching
The Boy Scouts of America has taken a beating. First was the public revelation that BSA admission standards had once been so low that not only was I permitted to join in 1965, I actually achieved the rank of Second Class.
Only slightly less disturbing is the current policy of not allowing gays to serve as role models to groups of impressionable boys, who, if ironically left to their own devices, would gladly torment a grizzly bear to death.
Horrible as those two things have been to organized dirtcraft, there's worse. Last week came what could be the killing blow to Boy Scouting. Girls.
The Associated Press announced that girls creatures with no Y chromosomes had officially attended a BOY Scout Jamboree for the first time.
The girls were part of the Boy Scout Venturing program. I have no idea what the program is, but I will call your attention to the word "boy" in Boy Scouts. Including girls is wrong.
Proof was in the photo accompanying the story. It featured a group of teenage female Venture Scouts preparing to ride a zip line. It wasn't so much that they were there as it was what they were wearing.
If you're a veteran of the BSA program, I don't need to tell you what this means. It ruins everything. Helmets? What's next? Hand sanitizer? Sunscreen? Rain ponchos?
I was a Second Class Scout for 3Â½ years and never once wore a helmet, a life vest, a seat belt, GPS device or insect repellent. It remains one of the most painfully instructive periods of my life.
I am not a male chauvinist. I'd be dead if I was. My boss is a woman. So, too, are my wife, daughters, granddaughters, sisters and mother. I know men are not better than women.
This isn't about the superiority of gender in the woods. It's about the practicality of males coming of age. You can't do that if women/girls are watching.
Coed scouting defeats the entire point of going off into the unknown to learn how to be guys. It ruins everything if you take along people who believe it's fundamentally OK to cry.
A Scout campout is the first night most boys in America spend away from their mothers. We take a giant step toward manhood when the sun goes down on our freshman campout.
I remember being hauled off to some distant wilderness, forced to eat non-mom food and then expected to sleep on the ground after being terrified outside of my meager mind by stories about a zombie lumberjack.
The next day I was hiked unmercifully, taunted by older boys, hit in the head with a hornet nest and pursued by a wolf, which, upon closer inspection, turned out to be a marauding squirrel.
Any kid who can do all of that without screaming for his mother is proud of being able to come home and say to his father, "I didn't come home early and I only peed in your sleeping bag a little."
You wouldn't get any of that toughening with girls in the troop. Guys would be too ashamed or too proud to behave naturally.
Note: If you don't understand any of this, it's because you have two X chromosomes and haven't chuckled your way fondly through Lord of the Flies.
I hope the BSA can pull back from this latest misadventure into social appropriateness. Guys need our male-only time in the woods. It's where we learn just how indispensable women are in the world.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.