Many parents look at the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, and the YMCA’s “Indian” programs, and feel they need to decide which one is “better”. Since both of them start early in grade school, and most parents of young kids are too tired to think, they often just go with what the “best friend” or next-door-neighbor chose and never look back. That’s a shame, because the two programs are pretty much polar opposites in what they offer, and while you may not have the time to do both, you should dig a little deeper and make your choice for the right reasons.
Princesses and Braves are about you and your kid
“Father and child are friends forever”. This is pretty much the guiding principle of the YMCA program, as dad and kid do everything together. Camping, parties, games, movies, arts and crafts… it’s all about building a lifetime friendship with your son or daughter. This is an especially attractive program for dads who don’t have a lot of time to spend with their children day-to-day due to work schedule or other commitments.
Since kids are kids, and will run off to do their own thing at times, the dads also have time to bond and make new friends. Probably because a parent is pretty much always right their to take care of they own kid(s), rules and training are few, lax and not intrusive on planning or activities. Dads look out for their kids.
Scouting is about building leadership, independence and character
While moms and dads are involved in the early programs (Cub Scouts, Blue Birds, Brownies), as the programs continue parents are ENCOURAGED to drop their kids off and come back when the meeting is over. Troops are intended to be kid-run, and most major events and camp-outs include only enough parents to meet legal requirements and to offer assistance if needed. The programs encourage rank advancement, leadership roles, the attainment of various badges and honors and other achievements focusing on the development of the individual playing a part in the group. Because of the much lower parent-to-kid ratio, there are some carefully enforced rules and required training to ensure the kids are always safe and well provided-for.
Parents can still build strong and lasting relationships between themselves as well, but it may take a little more effort to be an outing volunteer, join the Troop committee, or step into a key leadership role (with its required official training).
So the one program is about building a more lasting and memorable relationship with your kid, while the other is about pushing them out of the nest as strong and independent as possible. There’s no bad choice there, but everyone should consider what they’re choosing.