An Insider's Look at Mormon Culture

Separate and Unequal

When my grandchildren showed up Friday, 5-year-old Goody carried a jack-o-lantern made from a roll of toilet paper which I thought she had made in kindergarten. She told me her 9-year-old sister, Gymmi, had made it at Primary activity day. I looked at the roll of toilet paper covered with orange tissue paper, black triangles pasted on for a face.  I thought about what Gymmi’s brother did during Cub Scout meetings. Cub Scouts experiment with building electric circuit boards. They build bird feeders, twist twine into ropes, tie knots, make stoves from tin cans, cook food over their stove creations, and take nature hikes to identify plants. They do not do kindergarten-level craft projects.

That is why, when the ward Scoutmaster showed up at my door collecting for Friends of Scouting, I declined to donate. “I have two problems with the BSA. First, too much of the money goes for high salaries to BSA officers and executives. Very little of the money the ward raises on this drive will go to our local troop. Second, the Church does not have an equivalent program for the girls.”

I wish my granddaughters could participate in Girl Scouts. Their mother would like them to, but the family is so highly scheduled with Church activities, little time is left for outside enrichment. My recommendation, were I asked, would be to replace activity days with a more purposeful interest or program. Devout Mormons, of course, feel a need to “support the program,” whether it benefits them or not.

The problem with supporting an inferior program is that it promotes mediocrity. Why improve something that is obviously successful because people show up for it? But I digress. The real issue is that programs for Mormon girls are supported with a fraction of the money and effort expended on the Boy Scout program.

Comments on: "Separate and Unequal" (6)

  1. Maybe it’s different elsewhere, but here in the South, Girls Scouts is like Activity Days. As soon as my older two were old enough, I enrolled them in Girl Scouts, excited to think they would learn some useful skills. Alas, it wasn’t to be. We quit after a few months because they were just doing frou-frou-ish things and it drove me crazy.

    I wish there was an organization that taught girls the same useful things that boys learn in Scouts, but I don’t think it exists.

    • Megan,

      I suspect that with Girl Scouts, like Cubs, a lot depends on the leader.

      I’m sure there must be some wards that have worthwhile activity days for the girls. I suspect those wards are rare because the Primary program doesn’t have the resources which the Cub Scout and probably Girl Scout organization has.

      I know when I was a den mother, I had monthly training meetings where I learned worthwhile activities for the boys. I also had a manual full of interesting projects. I can’t help but think the Church could come up with really good programs for both boys and girls if they spent the money on our own kids rather than on the national organization.

  2. Megan, I think it depends on the leader. My daughter started her own troup last year for all of the same reasons that Anne wrote about. They began with six and as of last week had grown to thirty girls. The activities they do are not froufrou at all. The camping experiences and community service projects are wonderful, as well as educational. The GSA are not coddled by the church like the BSA which, I believe, makes them a stronger and more cohesive group in Utah.

  3. Ann – Are you going to the Sunstone party this year? I miss your thought-provoking posts

    • Matt

      I’ve been out of town doing heavy-duty Granny-nanny service for a month and am still trying to catch my breath. Should have some posts up and running by the end of the week. I think I’ve missed my invite to the Sunstone party this year.

  4. I don’t think there’s an official invite for the Christmas party…it’s on the website. It’s usually a good crowd of Sunstone members, ex-mormons, new order mormons, you name it. Carol is the glue that holds the foundation together.

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