Friday, June 11, 2010

Boys and girls: Adult investment

The structure of cub scouts with lots of age-defined packs within a single den, and the widespread institutional Mormon desire to split things up into small atomic units,* means that 8–11-year-old boys generally end up with more adults directly invested in their midweek activities than the girls of the same age do.

Concrete example, from a ward i’ve recently lived in: Achievement days has about eight girls who attend regularly, with two adults directly involved in running the program.** Cub scouts has about eight boys who attend regularly, with seven adults directly involved in running the program.***

Yeah, that’s balanced.

* Which i really don’t understand—i mean, given the way a decent number of people in any given ward are unwilling or unable to accept callings, you’d think you’d want to combine stuff, not split it up. But there we go, with tiny numbers of kids in primary classes, tiny numbers of kids in cub scout packs, tiny numbers of grownups in any given Sunday School class (aside maybe from gospel doctrine class), and so on.

** That is, one class, not two. This goes against the trend of splitting things up atomically mentioned above, and i have no explanation for that—but even if that was done, it’d probably only be two classes, and so four adults.

*** And i’m not counting people who work with both cub scouts and boy scouts in the count. The seven are one wolf pack leader plus assistant, one bear leader plus assistant, one webelos leader plus assistant, and one cubmaster.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

Maybe it's partly the homeschooler in me, but I just can't wrap my mind around why we MUST split the Cubs up by age. We've got a severe lack of leaders issue in our ward in addition to a severe lack of boys. It just makes sense to me to combine the Wolves and Bears, but, oh, no. You just CAN'T do that. Gotta only socialize with our age-mate of course! Here's how our breakdown is right now:

5 boys that are Wolf age currently. One will be Bear age in 2 weeks. Cameron and another boy were born in October so in October there will be two more Bears and then only two Wolves. Those two were born in May and so just entered the Wolf pack. The next to turn 8 will be in January *2012*. Yeah, he just turned 6 less than 6 months ago. There is a Bear who has been going with the WeBeLoS because until the one turned Bear age last Monday, he has been the only Bear since September. He'll be WeBeLoS age in September. Of actual WeBeLoS age boys, there are two. One will move to 11 year old Scouts (which, BTW, does not exist in BSA - that is WeBeLoS 2, but our church does it a little differently) in October and the other in December, leaving on WeBeLoS boy until the one who just became a Bear turns 10 next June.

Yeah, severe lack of 8-10 year old boys (and a severe lack of interest in combining with the other ward in order to have a viable troop... or combining age groups within our own ward). As far as leaders, Chris is the committee chair. Joe ends up doing a lot with our troop (his youngest is the WeBeLoS who turns 11 in December), but he's in the Stake YM Presidency and so should not be doing what he does with Scouts in the ward). Then there's Jamie doing Wolves right now. He might move to Bears when Cameron does in October. And then there's the Cubmaster (who is relatively useless) and some other guy that I'm not sure what his actual position is, but it's not a pack leader. And no other pack leaders. Just Jamie and some subs. Not very viable, really.

As for the girls, we have five 8-11 year old girls and one leader, though they are working on calling an assistant because their leader keeps canceling and all the girls ever do is color.

So let's have the raw numbers:
5 girls (8-11), 1 leader (and one more promised, eventually)
9 boys (8-10; we actually have no 11 year old Scouts at this time), 3 leaders plus two subs

5:1 vs. almost 2:1 Part of that may be because of the "two deep" leadership thing that the BSA requires.

I wish so much that our church would ditch BSA.

Jeanne said...

I'm with you, Heather. Why can't we combine age groups with the boys so they can have fun? I'm the assistant wolf den leader and we have two boys now. The bears are similarly low in number, as are the webelos and the 11 year old scouts. Fortunately, we're combining for the summer and just doing activities with all of the boys at once. They love it! Unfortunately, we'll split up again in the fall.

There's got to be some way to make it work better. It's really not advantageous to have twenty-seven leaders of boys if the boys are not having fun because they are separated from the other kids. Some weeks, I've brought my younger girls because D's been out of town. Those are the weeks the boys have the most fun, because there's actually enough people to do stuff with. I honestly think if we don't more effectively meet the boys' needs, we're going to lose them.

My girls have a way better program - their leaders plan good activities for them, they're consistent in holding meetings, and all of the girls meet together, making it fun for all.