|A Catholic Symbol
Edit: I never got much out of Scouting, but it's a shame now that a lot of Catholics won't because of their waffling. A Scout is supposed to be morally straight. The organization decided to put an end to that and has prompted the closing of branches in parishes predominated by faithful Catholics. Hopefully they can consider this as a legitimate alternative, the Scouts of St. George:
We are getting thousands of emails from all over the world. By God’s grace, the Scouts of Saint George will launch on time by the end of the summer!
These emails express excitement from young men and parents. However, its becoming apparent, that the SSG isn’t for everyone.
I want to be 100% transparent about what the Scouts of Saint George is and what it is not. I do not want anyone to spend their efforts with us only to be disappointed.
We have a very specific mission and goal: that Catholic men and boys will become saints in their love for our Lord Jesus Christ. The context we have chosen for this is the outdoors in the scouting tradition founded by Baden-Powell.
Here are 6 reasons why the Scouts of Saint George isn’t for everyone:
1) This is a Catholic movement. Please understand that the SSG is for Catholic men and Catholic boys. There are a number of reasons for this exclusivity:
a) The SSG will include activities expressly Catholic (Mass, Rosary, Marian hymns, pilgrimages to Guadalupe/Fatima/Rome, prayers to Saint George, etc). It’s not fair to ask non-Catholics to act contrary to their religious beliefs.
Image this! Think about forty boys and a few dads sitting around a campfire at 10:45pm with the sky full of stars. They just spent a long and exhausting day hiking and practicing survival techniques. The sky is full of constellations. The Milky Way is spread out above them. The boys just finished telling camp fire stories and performing a few skits. The dads cooked peach cobbler for the boys in their cast-iron dutch ovens. When they finish their hot cobbler, the boys take turns leading the Rosary and finish by chanting the Salve Regina to Mary in Latin.
If that doesn’t excite you, then the SSG is probably not for you.
If this sounds like a scouting dream come true. Then join the team and start a troop.
b) Membership and leadership standards will include recommendations from a Catholic priest in good standing and safe-environment classes from the local diocese.
c) It would be disingenuous to give awards referring to saints, Mary, or sacramental realities to non-Catholics. A Mormon shouldn’t be receiving Trinitarian badges. Protestants shouldn’t be receiving Marian or Eucharistic regalia or symbols. It’s inauthentic. It doesn’t comport with the truth.
d) What if we allowed non-Catholics? What if a Troop became 51% Protestant and voted to have a Calvinist chaplain instead of a Catholic priest? Then what? Are any Catholics going to join it? The SSG in that town has abandoned its birthright.
“But what about witnessing to other non-Catholic boys? We cannot leave them out in the rain!” I certainly feel this objection in my heart. I was a non-Catholic scout and I do know that Catholic scouts had an influence on me. Trust me. I understand. However, if we are going to avoid the mistakes of the BSA, we are going to have to make a stand on this. We must be on the same page when it comes to moral issues. Which leads to…
2) We have high moral standards. The SSG are called to high standards. Alcoholism, adultery, fornication, and any other transgressions against the doctrinal or moral teaching of the Catholic Church will not be tolerated in the adult leaders or with the scouts. The SSG should be exemplars of virtue in their community.
3) This is a men’s movement. A lot of people have taken exception to this. “The Scouts of Saint George is as much about Cahtolic men as it is about Catholic boys.” I’ve placed this quote in bold because that sound bite should be repeated whenever anyone talks about the SSG.
Visit your local Catholic parish and you’ll see that men have generally abandoned its leadership. This is true with attendance and volunteer work. The published stats are readily available. We need a renewal in Catholic manhood. We start with the men and their boys. We begin to start a revolution where fathers and sons are not embarrassed to pray the Rosary together.
Can mother’s help out and be involved in a number of ways? Of course! We need the mothers! Wives are integral to the spiritual formation of their husbands and their sons. Our wonderful mothers are not to be excluded. However, the leadership and camping activities are for men and boys only. Boys become men through the mentorship of other men. The Blessed Virgin Mary was without sin, all holy, all wise, and the most perfect creature of all. Yet God still placed Saint Joseph into Christ’s life. Mary facilitated. However, Mary did not teach Jesus how to carve wood. She left that to Joseph.
4) We are not co-ed. Young men and women need each other, but they also need to have times apart. I’m an Eagle Scout. I’ve been a high school teacher. I am a college professor. I am a father. Take it from me: Boys act and think differently when girls are around. They don’t ask questions. They play it cool. They are more self-aware. They are less aware of their friends and more aware of the girls. That’s not bad. That’s just the way things are. Why fight nature?
Boys (and men) need to get away and get into the woods and sit around the fire. I believe that down to the core of my bones. Is your husband stressed out? Send him out into the woods. He’ll come back a happier man.
Will we start a “Scouts of Saint Joan of Arc” at some point? We are considering it. Right now, there is more demand for SSG and we are overwhelmed. Moreover, I am an Eagle Scout. I don’t know much about girl scouting. We would need women to help take up the torch in this regard. I’m open to it.
5) We are not a “boy’s club.” The Scouts reading this site already understand this. The Knight of Columbus Squires and other great boys groups are wonderful. We promote and support them. However, scouting is different. It’s an outdoors movement. It entails rappelling, knots, camping, backpacking, survival, dutch oven cooking, fishing, etc.
Camping and doing survival weekends isn’t for everyone. We are not chiefly concerned about community service. We encourage that, but that’s not the point of SSG. We want a boy to come home and proudly tell his mother that he now knows how to rig a small sail boat. We want a boy to have that moment of self-confidence burned into his memory.
6) We have high-standards. This point comes from Baden-Powell. He understood that boys don’t want to be boys. Boys want to be men. Inner city gangs understand this. Unfortunately, many good people do not understand this reality with boys. The SSG isn’t going to be an easy “check the box” organization. The ranks will be earned and the boys will know their faith and have character. We expect that many these young men will go on to be the heroic priests of the next generation.
Scouting, to distill the idea, is asking boys to achieve manhood. We are modeling ourselves on chivalry and the art of being a gentlemen. We aren’t going to tolerate backward baseball caps, shirt tails out, and white basketball shoes with the uniform. Yes, it’s going to be a little bit old fashioned. The handbooks, uniforms, badges, hats, neckerchiefs, and everything associated is going to be of higher quality than the BSA. When you see it, you will say, “Wow!” When non-Catholics see it, they will say, “I wish I were Catholic! That looks so cool!
Your sons will look like men because we want them to become men. Baden-Powell always stressed the importance of self-respect and public appearance, and we should not forget it. There is nothing Catholic about looking like a slob. From the chivalric orders, to the religious orders, to the diocesan priesthood, the Catholic Church has always insisted on proper dress. The Scouts of Saint George should see themselves in that tradition.
I imagine that a few will read these six points above and think, “Shucks. I’m out. This isn’t for me. This isn’t for my family.” That’s okay. It’s better for all of us to realize this at the beginning rather than two years into it.
If anyone wants to fight over these 6 points of identity for the SSG, please don’t. These six principles are not up for debate. They are part of the core identity of the Scouts of Saint George. There are other boys clubs and scouting organizations out there. I’m sure you can find a fit.
Now I turn my eyes to those who have read these six points and are fired up. Do you want be that father sitting around the camp fire praying the Rosary and looking up at the stars? Do you want a Catholic mens/boys movement that seeks to transform the culture and restore genuine manhood? If so, please start a troop in your town. Man up and take the lead. Let’s work together.
On our death beds, we will be glad and grateful that we did this…
CALL TO ACTION: We will begin the registration of the first 100 SSG Troops on July 1, 2013. These first 100 Troops will be “Charter Troops” and will retain special badges and honor in perpetuity as the original “100 Charter Troops of the SSG.”
In order to Charter a Troop you need:
- A father to volunteer as Troop Sergeant (sergeant comes from the Latin serviens, meaning “one who serves”)
- You need at least Catholic six boys. Baden-Powell believed that six boys were the bare minimum. We are exclusively Catholic among the Scouts and the leadership.
- Support from your priest. A Troop cannot be chartered without a letter for reference from a priest in good standing. Adult volunteers will need to go through the “Keeping Kids Safe” (or similar program) in your Catholic diocese.
- You will need to register your troop at this website to be officially associated with the SSG. Look for the application form in July.
Taylor Marshall, PhD