My 7 year-old daughter, Kitty, loves the outdoors. She spends hours digging in the dirt, examining bugs and communing with trees and the wind. As I write this, she is on our deck. Using a Spackle bucket and yarn, she is hoisting pine boughs up and down while standing in the planter box. It is getting dark. Even as the day fades, she is still outside, wet from water play earlier in the day. She must be cold but she stays outside until I call her.
Because Kitty is a nature child, we thought Brownies would be a good fit. Our two boys are in Cub Scouts and immensely enjoy the camping and camaraderie. And Brownies is like Cub Scouts… isn’t it?
Brownies cover a little science, math, art, domestic arts, and outdoor activities. They also camp, which is the main attraction for my daughter.
I’ll regret pulling her out – but I must do it.
Today, I asked our troop leader if my husband could take my daughter on the next camping trip. After all, we take Kitty on Cub Scout camping trips where she and other siblings are welcome. Our Cub Scout Pack has male and female leaders and is family oriented. I didn’t think it would be any different. But…Brownies isn’t Cub Scouts. And, while the Brownie leader didn’t say no, she didn’t say yes either. She just looked uncomfortable.
The Brownies leader thinks mommies should camp with their girls. “It is the Girl Scouts.” Moms can show the girls that “women don’t need a strong man to do things for them”. The leader was a single parent and probably discovered she could do many “manly” things. She is right to want to pass self-reliance onto girls.
On the other hand, I thought Scouting was about family values, Americana, and apple pie. Kitty’s Brownie troop is about female empowerment, exclusion of male leadership and virtual exclusion of daddy involvement. This doesn’t look so Americana to me anymore.
I’m all for giving power to girls, especially Kitty. My daughter is petite and kind. She will need to be strong to hold her own in this world. In this troop, though, they plan to get her there in an all female world. What values will rub off?
Teaching girls female empowerment without male involvement isn’t reality. In America, are there many places with all female leadership or all male leadership? Wasn’t the push in the Sixties to have “equal” rights, not dominant rights? Don’t we find strength when it’s mixed leadership and we all support each other? Maybe that was just my misunderstanding.
I realized today that Brownies will not empower my daughter. I believe just as I learned from my strong mother and quieter, supportive father who worked as a team to pull themselves out of poverty, Kitty will learn to be a strong, adventurous woman by watching me and her loving Dad. I hope she will also learn from everybody in our mixed company world.