Scouts BSA and the Petersburg Parishes
Recently the topic of Scouts BSA, formerly the Boy Scouts of America, was brought before our Pastoral Council. Two of our parishes have chartered Councils for decades. The scouts are a little different than other organizations. A scout “troop” or a cub “pack” (for younger scouts) are chartered through an organization – a “Charter Organization.” The troop or pack becomes part of the organization; it is more than just using space. The Scout troop and Cub pack are basically an arm of our ministry to young people.
Currently St. Joseph Parish charters a Scout Troop and a Cub Pack. In the past, Immaculate Conception Parish chartered a Cub Scout Pack and St. Paul Lutheran Church in Botkins chartered a Boy Scout Troop. However, in November 2021, St. Paul Church decided not to renew the Scout Charter. Therefore, in 2022 Immaculate Conception chartered the Scout Troop and Cub Pack. Unfortunately, in 2023, there was insufficient leadership to charter a Cub Pack, so there is only a Scout Troop (older children) currently at Immaculate Conception.
My personal hesitation began in 2019; the Boy Scouts of America changed their name to Scouts BSA and instituted troops for young women. As a recent CatholicVote article stated, “Having an institution which was totally devoted to the formation of young men in the Christian tradition had given the BSA a unique place in the world. Boys had a place where they could be boys learning how to be men. The inclusion of women, though there are no co-ed troops, negatively affects the organization as a whole. Scouting camps can no longer solely orient themselves toward boys.”1
My hesitations grew upon learning about the Citizenship in Society Merit Badge. The CatholicVote article continues, “The Citizenship in Society Merit Badge became a requirement for scouts to achieve their Eagle Scout status in 2022. To become an Eagle Scout is the highest honor in the scouting world and involves years of hard work. This badge focuses on “inclusivity” and “identities.” It is more free-form than other badges, and its requirements are largely determined by the scout’s counselor, which could be harmful depending on the counselor and his/her beliefs. Some of the resources provided counselors for the completion of this badge include a podcast about gender ideology among Native Americans, “White Anti-Racism: Living the Legacy,” and a “Guide the Allyship,” which instructs the scout to “Transfer the benefits of your privilege to those who lack it.””
In addition, we were increasingly struggling to find leadership in scouting activities and it was difficult to find Catholic leaders, which ensures that the troop/pack had some connection to the parish.
Currently we are renovating the convent at Immaculate Conception which eliminates the space the scouts occupied so that we have sufficient space for Junior High CCD. Also with the upcoming renovation of the Faith Center at St. Joseph, the space occupied by the scouts would no longer be solely dedicated to the scouts.
Finally, a couple parishioners have expressed interest in founding alternatives to the scouts. There are good options available like the “Troops of St. George” which is a specifically Catholic group and “Trail Life” which is similar to the origins of the Boy Scouts of America.
On June 1, 2023, I shared these concerns and developments with our pastoral council. After some discussion, the council recommended not to renew our charter with Scouts BSA for 2024. I notified the Scouts a couple weeks ago about this decision. This gives the scouts until the end of the year to find a new charter organization.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Sean Wilson