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  SCOUT ON THE TOWN

Brooklyn Dad Starts Boy Scouts Troop Open To Girls And Gays

boy-scout-dadBrooklynite Todd Schweikert, a former Boy Scout himself and the father of two, was turned off by the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay members and leaders so he decided to start an inclusive troop of his own.

The 33-year-old Windsor Terrace resident grew up in Iowa as a Boy Scout and even earned his Eagle badge, something famously denied to openly gay teen Ryan Andresen, and wanted his seven-year-old son to have the same positive experience.

But finding conflict with the BSA’s anti-gay policy, the former scout started a troop that welcomes both boys and girls, doesn’t discriminate against gays and doesn’t have a religious component: the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts.

Schweikert hopes to attract other parents who want their kids to experience the joys of scouting without the BSA’s increasingly unpopular restrictions.

“I think the need and the want is there,” Schweikert told DNAinfo. “A lot of people want their children to be in scouts, but a lot of people have issues with their policies.”

So far over 40 kids have expressed interest in joining the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts.

Before settling on the Baden-Powell Service Association as his troop’s parent group, Schweikert looked into several alternative scouting options. Though some troops under the BSA have gone against the organization’s guidelines by allowing girls and gays to join, Schweikert didn’t want money from his dues going towards supporting its discriminatory policies.

The Fifth Brooklyn Scouts will meet weekly at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture near Prospect Park, which will afford the kids opportunities for “nature observation”, overnight camping trips and weekend hikes. Troops will also learn classic scouting skills such as knot-tying and perform community service projects, while earning badges for their accomplishments.

“It really builds character,” Schweikert explained. “It prepares them for leadership roles. It’s not just running around in the woods with knives.”

You can lend the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts a hand by making a donation here.

By:           Les Fabian Brathwaite
On:           Jan 11, 2013
Tagged: , , ,

  • 10 Comments
    • Kieran
      Kieran

      Umm, I don’t mean to sound technical, but it isn’t the “Boy” Scouts if girls can join too.

      Jan 11, 2013 at 5:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • LadyLady
      LadyLady

      @Kieran:

      That is why this group is not called “Boy Scouts”. The idea of the group is to take the focus off of the sex/sexual orientation of the children. It is like a unisex group.

      I think this is a brilliant idea and I give him huge props for stepping up to the plate and making this happen. That’s a good dad AND a good human being.

      Jan 11, 2013 at 6:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • balehead
      balehead

      where can we send him our donations?….

      Jan 11, 2013 at 8:04 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • D9W
      D9W

      Wouldn’t it be funny if Scouts who disagree with the bigotry of the ‘B.S. of A’ start this all over this country?

      Jan 11, 2013 at 8:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Will L
      Will L

      @D9W: You know, I was just thinking the same thing! I applaud this man and his mission.

      Actually this headline is incorrect. He is starting a Scout troop not a Boy Scout troop.

      Jan 11, 2013 at 9:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gaym50ish
      gaym50ish

      There are already established alternatives to the Boy Scouts. Why not join Camp Fire? It embraces everyone of any race, religion or sexual orientation, and it’s no longer just for girls. In fact its membership these days is about half boys. Members can become involved as a family, and Camp Fire helps kids learn the ideals of community service.

      Jan 11, 2013 at 11:21 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike
      Mike

      @Kieran: “Technically”, it’s “the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts” not “The Boy Scouts”… you gotta ignore the incorrectly written title. This hero of a man/dad started a “scouts” troop, not a “Boy’s Scouts [of America]” troop.

      I had not heard of Camp Fire… I’ll have to look into that for my nieces and nephews. It’s great to know that people are finally “evolving”.

      Jan 12, 2013 at 1:13 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • justin_case
      justin_case

      Awesome idea, and I’m all for it. In addition to being all-inclusive, it’s important to teach kids leadership skills (which sorely lack these days, unfortunately).

      However, an open bottle of beer right next to him and his child? Hmmmm…(hoping it’s ginger brew or something). I’ve been around plenty of people who think it’s perfectly normal to have alcohol being used right around small children. Hoping it’s not the case here.

      Jan 14, 2013 at 7:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kopper
      kopper

      @gaym50ish: This *IS* an established alternative to Boy Scouts, as is Camp Fire. The Baden-Powell Service Association was formed in 2006, so it’s not brand-new. And we actually DO teach kids the values of community service. I’d suggest you take a few minutes to look into our program and see exactly what it has to offer… not only service over self but also instructing boys and girls on Scoutcraft/outdoor skills as Traditional Scouting was intended (by Lord Robert Baden-Powell in 1907). Please visit our website for more info: bpsa-us.org

      Jan 17, 2013 at 3:58 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • kopper
      kopper

      @Mike: Actually, if we want to get really technical, it’s the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA). “5th Brooklyn Scouts” is just the name of the local group, of which there are many across the U.S. Visit our website for more info: http://bpsa-us.org/

      Jan 17, 2013 at 4:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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