In a fascinating paper in the March issue of Perspectives, Barbara Arneil examines membership numbers in the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts.
There was a major drop in membership in both the Boy and the Girl Scouts in the 1970s. Robert Putnam explains that the drop in membership was a result of the rise of time in front of TV and later video games, the increase in dual family employment, the increase of suburban sprawl, and a decline in civic spirit.
Arneil says that the decline occurred in the 1970s, which was a critical period for in American history. "For the 1970s ushered in a “civil rights” generation with a new post-materialist set of values that sought to rectify the injustices associated with war, race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability." The Girl Scouts adjusted to the new mentality, while the Boy Scouts didn't. Therefore, the Girl Scouts saw a jump in membership after 1985, while membership in the Boy Scouts did not.
It was a very interesting, well-written paper. It was fascinating to see the differences in membership between the scouts. However, I think that other factors have to explain why the girl scouts have thrived and the boy scouts haven't. Some ideas:
- It's all about the cookies and the tiny drops of meth mixed into those Thin Mints.
- Fear of perverted scout leaders getting in a tent with little Johnny.
- Competition with organized sports. I bet that time in little League and soccer game has increased.