Great Outdoors

Looking for the Right Scout Group

Boxes of the two most popular Girl Scout cooki...
What does pushing sugary snacks have to do with scouting, anyway? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s something that gives me a real problem: I want to find an outdoor group for Anneka. When she’s old enough, I want her to be able to join other like-minded kids her age to learn about the outdoors. And I don’t want her outdoor group’s activities to revolve around selling cookies. No. (One of my favorite stories about Sarah is how her mother went took her Girl Scout troop rogue to rebel against selling cookies. Awesome!)

I also want it to be 100 percent, completely, unmistakably secular. No religion, no spirituality. I’d also prefer a group that doesn’t segregate based on gender.

What I’ve found, though, is that Arizona is an absolute wasteland for non-cookie pushing, non-religion pushing outdoor groups for kids. I can find a multitude of Christian organizations, and even a few pagan groups! But secular? Uh-uh.

My first choice would be Camp Fire, an organization that shows its willingness to change with the times. It started off as Camp Fire Girls of America, but shifted to include boys and girls.

Wouldn’t you know it, though? Camp Fire doesn’t have a – what, camp? Council? Chapter? – in Arizona.

I’ve mentioned this to a few friends, and the overwhelming message I’m getting is “start your own! You’d be great at it!”

I suppose I would be. But there’s an administrative side to running such an operation that is hardly in my wheelhouse. And a certain side of me also doesn’t want to … I’m not sure how to put this … to raise Anneka thinking that Dad knows everything about everything. I know kids often idolize their parents (at least until the tween years), but I’m not sure that’s entirely healthy. I’d rather she recognize me as a caring dad who’s doing his best, but sometimes gets things wrong and has lessons to learn in life – just like she does. If there’s one lesson it’s important to pass along, I think it’s that none of us ever stops learning. And I need some help.

That’s where learning from someone else can help. It’s good to have more positive adult influences than just the parents. It’s good to meet other boys and girls who are doing the same things.

I took a break from writing this to shoot an email off to Camp Fire to see if they might decide to start something in Arizona. Let’s see what they have to say. (Oh, hey! They responded, and I put the update in a new post.)

In the meantime, who has some suggestions for us?



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