April 27, 2012

Faith ~ Pagan and Scouting

Three of my children are in Scouts; Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Cub Scouts.  Scouting can be very religious focused.  And I've heard that it can be difficult for non Judeo-Christian families.  I have been very fortunate to be with Scouting groups that are open and not overly religious focused.  With the Boy Scouts I assume it is because our Chartered organization isn't a Church, but an amazing group of people who love scouting and started the Thirty Six club.  However being a Pagan Scout does come with it's challenges.

My daughter's Girl Scout Troop doesn't have much emphasis on the religious aspect of Scouting.  Her Troop is very involved with helping the community, helping younger Girl Scouts, and having fun as just girls.  My daughter is learning about respect for herself and for others.  The girls are learning to be independent, responsible, and strong young women.

My older son's Boy Scout Troop doesn't seem to be very religious focused either.  The do lots of camping and outdoorsy type activities.  Their Troop is boy run.  Meaning primarily the older boys plan the activities and teach the younger boys.  It is amazing how much more responsible my son is becoming because of this.  He is learning from the examples of the older boys in the Troop.

Cub Scouting is very different.  At each age level, Tiger through Webelo, there is an achievement requirement called Duty to God.  This year my youngest son is a Wolf Cub and for Faith he has to:
  1. Talk with your family about what they believe is their Duty to God.
  2. Give two ideas on how you can practice or demonstrate your religious beliefs, choose one and do it.
  3. Find out how you can help your church, synagogue, mosque, temple or religious fellowship.
The hardest part for me was trying to let my son do the work for the achievement with out telling him, "hey kid this is what you're going to do."  I think Faith is very personal and I really wanted him to be involved.  After all he is the Cub Scout not me.
This is how we worked it out.

For #1, we talked about doing no harm.  Which means no harm to others, ourselves, and the Earth.  We talked about ways to do this, like being respectful, using nice words, keeping our hands to ourselves, and the many things we do in our daily lives to help the earth.  I also told my son, "I feel it's my duty to teach him and his siblings about our families beliefs." 

My son came up with one idea for #2 and I helped him with the second idea.  His idea was to recycle.  He said, "Because when we recycle Mommy, we're taking care of the Earth."  Since Ostara was just around the corner when we started working on this, my idea was to have him help with our Ostara preparations.  (A job that usually done be me or my oldest daughter.)  We did choose to do the second idea, because we decided to use his idea (and some others) for #3.

We don't belong to an "official" religious fellowship.  I am mostly a solitary practitioner, except for when I'm working with my children.  So my son and I decided to talk about how we could help the Earth, since she is sacred to us and we do plenty of outdoor rituals.  Of course he talked about recycling again, this kid loves to recycle it's his favorite job.  We just started gardening and composting last year. Composting helps the earth by reusing plant matter instead of just dumping it in the garbage.  When we grow our own food in the garden it tastes better and is healthier.  It also cuts down on our buying of food that is mass produced.  This is how our family is helping the Earth which to us is our place of worship.

I think that being a Scout is important to my children's growth and learning outside the family.  I know it is a bit of a challenge to work in our personal faith with Scouting, but it is definitely worth doing.

~Earhty Mom


  1. We are also in Scouts and have found ways to make it work for our family. There are religious awards in Girls Scouts (I am my girls leader) that you can get. We have worked it out by offering a UU award to them (we are UU members) even though my husband and I am Wiccan. I also find Boy Scouts a little harder (my boys are Cub Scouts too) but for the most part people have been very accepting in our community. We homeschool our 4 kiddos so for us scouts has become a really important part of our lives.

    On a side note the UU community has also been a really wonderful support for all of us even though my husband and I have our own private practice.

  2. Perhaps UU is something we should look into. My husband is my cub scout son's leader, so in a way it makes us feel like we have to be extra careful(?) on how we do the faith part of scouts. We have had several parents come to us who don't belong to any religious group and ask, "How do we do this part?" So I'm thankful that even though we don't belong to a group, we at least have a strong belief at home with our family.

  3. Spiral Scouts!!! Our Coven sponsors a Spiral Scout troop and they're awesome. It is like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts but with a focus for Pagan ideas and Pagan families. Just last weekend the group had a camp out on the property of our Covenstead. They learn about the turning of the year and the Sabbats - what each means. They learn skills. I believe they are going to also learn about identifying wild edible plants. We try to have something for these children at every ritual we hold. I wish this had been available for my children when they were young, but that was 20 years ago. Anyway - look in to it for your own kids.

    1. I've looked into Spiral Scouts and it does sound very interesting and fun. Unfortunately the closest group to us is over an hour drive. I would love to be involved, but with three kids activities we just don't have the time to travel that far. I keep hoping that I'll find a spiral scouts group closer to us.

    2. I looked into Spiral Scouts as well as a future planning thing, and their website has a section talking about how to create your own group. You may want to look into that. When my little brother became old enough to join cub/boy scouts my parents (who are Catholic but very accepting of other religions) started his group just so he would have that opportunity and it was fairly simple. I don't think starting a Spiral Scouts group would be too complicated either.

  4. Honestly I looked into Spiral Scouts - we had no Spiral Scouts here. They suggested we start a new hearth - "Please send your BIG CHECK TO .....Spiral Scouts"

    It was outside our budget - when I did NOT send the check - they began emailing me lists of all the awful things my son would go through in BSA.

    We joined BSA anyway - after I added Spiral Scouts to my spam list.

    He LOVES BSA - his scoutmaster respects our religion. We haven't had ANY TROUBLE whatsoever. There is no "Pagan" religious reward - but we just don't worry about that. We worked on other things like our family awary.

    BSA has boon wonderful.

    I am really glad I didn't listen to the venom out there about them. I realize there are those who have had issues. The key seems to be the Cub master. I was up front with my concerns - and he point blank say "It's only a problem if you MAKE it a problem.)

    We bow our heads when they pray - and they have added a silent moment for us. Respect - that goes both ways is the only thing that works.

    1. It's great to hear what a wonderful experience you are having with BSA!
      Our leaders are also very understanding and respect our family's personal beliefs. And I've taught my children to be respectful to other's religions.
      I think the BSA and GSA are good programs and I'm happy that I got my children involved with them.

  5. I know this is an old thread. I came upon it in my search for being a Pagan Family/den leader. I was reluctant to allow my sons in BSA and I was fortunate to find a pack that is very open to diversity. I am grateful to see many Pagan parents making it work. Bright blessings

    1. I'm so happy to hear you found a Pack that is open to diversity. Scouting has been amazing for my children, helping them to learn new skills and grow into more responsible young people. From my experience Cub Scouting has more religious parts than Boy Scouting. Now that both of my boys are in Boy Scouts they get to focus on the merit badges that they want to do, instead of following along the same program as everyone else.
      I hope that you and your sons continue to enjoy scouts.