This summer a small group of Cub Scouts from my Pack went away to sleepover camp. Four moms joined me as adult leaders. It never occurred to me that a group of women would be noticed, never mind create a stir.
One night we had to prepare our own fire then make “foil dinners”. You take meat and vegetables and wrap them in foil then throw them in coals from a fire. We had apples with sugar and cinnamon to cook for desert. I pride myself on building fires so I had the boys fixing and lighting it in no time. We ate our dinner and dessert then started on our own supplies to make smores. Our camp guide, a 17-year-old Boy Scout named Earl, came to our site to hang out then went to the adjacent site to offer his help since they were still cooking. They replied “Oh no, we don’t need any help, but there are women down there who might.” Earl ran down the hill laughing to tell us.
We all couldn’t believe the men thought we needed help because we were women. We joined in his laughter especially since they seemed unprepared for this task.
Earlier in the week, the district executive invited all the leaders from six scout camps to a special steak and potato dinner at the main post. When I looked around the 200 or so leaders, I could only spot one other woman. Later during a firework display, a male leader asked how we convinced moms to be involved. None of their moms wanted anything to do with cub scouts. I explained we always had a balance of moms and dads and I worked to recruit all the parents. I thought it was a shame that none of the women would step forward for him. We obviously stuck out among the 800 people in attendance.
The next day the all-male leaders who shared our dinner table asked how my day was going as we floated down a stream together. I was having a great day after shooting 2 bullseyes at the archery range then catching a fish, so I told them. That evening a dad from our Pack arrived to stay for a few days. When our dad joined the table at dinner, they were immediately jolly, slapping him on the back and commenting that they wondered if we had any men in our Pack. Truthfully, I hadn’t been eating meals with them all week wondering if they had any women in their Pack. From our earlier conversation that day, they must have been able to tell I knew what I was doing.
Being a young girl in the 70’s, I always thought I was equal. In my mind I have never questioned it. I know women still don’t get paid at the same rate as men for the same job, but I always consider myself equal in my day-to-day life. I wouldn’t allow it to be any other way.
My cub scouts had a great week. The boys were Pack of the Day and received quality unit and adventure awards for extra accomplishments. We were top notch under our leadership which just happened to be female. The reactions seem ridiculous to me, but I know our boys won’t have them. Their moms rocked the outdoors. They’re not having an education in sexism. They’re being shown women can do everything.