I do Scouting as praxis, AMA

Submitted by IamaScoutAMA in lobby

I've been a scout since I was 12. I'm now in my 20s and am a scout leader (I look after younger ones), because I believe that teaching the next gen is one of the best things I can do right now, and I am able to teach anarchist values to children who come here.

Disclaimer: The "World Organization of the Scout Movement" is the biggest association in the world, and scouting is very different from country to country. My personal experience is probably not the same as the scouts near you. Also my scouting association is probably one of the most left-winged ones you can find; its really different from fash-type stereotype you probably have (those still exist though). Also english is not my first language so I may not be clear.

We have 3 age ranges. I'll talk about how we look after our adolescents (12-17). We also have 8-12 and 17-21 if you want to ask about those

We spend 6 afternoon and 12 week-ends together each year, that ends with a 2-3 week summer-camp.They sleep in tents most of the time.

We have a group of 25 teens, separated into teams of 5-6, that will work together for a year. They will sleep together, cook together, eat half their meals together, do chores together and work on a yearly project together (this year one of the teams did a 2 day autonomous bike hike for example). The teams are mixed age, mixed gender, but we are legally obliged to have male and female separated sleeping tents. The children spend ~50% of the time in their team and 50% all together.

what I like about my scout movement:

  • Our final goal is to make these young people into balanced, happy, woke adults.
  • We value "education by action": We play games to learn about plants, do projects to learn to work in groups, they cook their own food themselves form scratch. About half of our activity are games.
  • we teach the children simple living: every year they spend our 3 week summer camp without TV, phones, or internet, but also showering with only 5L a day, washing their clothes themselves, cooking with fires and so on...
  • Me and my team of adults choose what values we want to teach the children: this year we've worked on basic human need and good food habits. Next year I'll try to make everyone eat vegan for the whole summer camp and go volunteering for food shelters during the year.

what I dont like about my scouting movement:

  • we wear uniforms "to be recognised". I still find it kinda fashy
  • It's not leftist enough. Most other adults are liberals, so I cant go as "hardcore leftist" as I want; for example, other adults are "scared" of vegans.

you can ama about my values, our daily general organization, the activities we do



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JoeMemo wrote

Scared of vegans? You mean like you can't even try to promote vegan meals to the kids because you'll lose social capital from the adults? Do the adults try to gatekeep what it means to be a scout?


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

yup, the movement promotes vegetarianism and local food, so everyone is cool with flexitarian meals, but vegan is off charts. Someone told me that feeding my group vegan food for 3 weeks would be forcing my world view onto them. Its bullshit I'm all-ready forcing my world view by restricting phones on my camp.

As you can guess, it's mostly carnists that are against the concept of vegan camps. Some other dude has all ready done a vegan camp last year so I know it's doable, but it's a bit of a battle.

There is gate-keeping since we're an "official" movement with "official" values that each group can interpret as they want. It is not necessarily a bad thing: it stops fashies from making hitler-youth camps.

As I said in my op, the movement is liberal so a bit slow and lagging a little regarding stuff like veganism and zero-waste. We have country-wide assemblies to decide and vote on the orientation of the movement every 5 years thought.

Fuck'em I'm gonna do a vegan camp anyways :D


ziq wrote

Fuck yeah, showing kids they don't have to eat animal products is always good praxis. I've even woke up a few kids just by eating in front of them, much to their parents anger.


retiredaccount wrote

Just stopping by to say this sounds cool and keep it up :)


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

Yeah it's cool. I'm having fun too. My favorite part is to help the teams build their project and seeing them go. We try to make them do everything: initial idea, budget, menus, "selling cookies for $$$" and finally going.

Also during the summer camp, we have 3 days of "walkabouts" where the teams go out autonomously with their sleeping gear and money for food, but no tents, and they need to ask around to find somewhere to sleep. Sometimes they get full bread and breakfast with some old lady, sometimes they sleep in town gymnasiums, or in creepy old churches. That was my favorite part as a kid.


BlackFlagged wrote (edited )

How do you deal with parents that realize you're a radical and potentially teaching their kids to oppose capitalism?


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

I haven't talked politics with the parents so I don't know precisely where they are on the political spectrum, but I think they're all left-wing or liberals so they share the values of the movement (love and respect of nature, cooperation, autonomy...).

Since we're in an official movement there are some boundaries that I don't cross even if I would like to:

  • law: I want to try mixed sleeping, but it's illegal
  • movement values: there is a small emphasis on religion and spirituality so I cant go around saying all of it is bullshit.
  • my formation: I have youth worker diplomas and know security

The parents help us a lot, especially with organization and accounting, but leave us to do the interactions with the children: menus, games, day to day life...


ziq wrote (edited )

Damn fine praxis, teaching people to be self sufficient and respect the natural world.

Does scouting emphasize collectivist or individualistic traits? You say they're expected to cook their own food, but is it just a couple of kids shouldering all the work for the others, or is each kid really expected to be truly self sufficient and autonomous?


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

Our ideal is to turn children into autonomous and fulfilled adults. The group is a tool to make the individual grow. I personally think the group feeds on individual and vice-versa.

teams have mixed age/competence: there is older one that will do more work than the others, but we try to have them teach the younger ones. Also we give more responsibilities and autonomy to the "good" scouts. By the time the younger kids are old, they are the ones teaching the others.

Another tool is that we can set up a contract between the child and the group in which they decide to learn something by doing something for the group; for example learning knots by making a poster about knots that we can hang up in the group's room; or for a 8-12yo to learn how to speak in front of crowds by organizing a game of soccer and explaining the rules to everyone.

As for the cooking, each team has their own way of doing things: one team did all chores all together, another had a different member do all the chores each day. One team had half the members do the cooking, half do the dishes. Another team chose with a dice roll... Most of the time the kids find some sort of equality without our input.


ziq wrote (edited )

This is all great. We need anarcho-scouts, but it sounds like it's already running pretty anarchically in its current form.


AndMyAxe wrote (edited )

I've never done scouting, but it was something that has always interested me. I'm 19 now and moving to the UK, do you know if there is any chance I could join some sort of scout association there?

EDIT: Also, skills like washing yourself with only 5L of water a day sound really useful and eco-friendly. Do you have any advice for learning some skills, and applying them to one's day-to-day life?


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

UK were the first scouts, so there will probably be scouts in every town. As I said, we are all very different so the experience I narrated here will not necessarily be the same in the UK. You can always try it out for a day or two, scouts are really nice and lenient, especially if they're looking for volunteers.

If you're 19, you may become a rover: in teams of 5-7 they build ambitious projects, often oversees, in order to help and meet new people.You will otherwise be a leader/volunteer, like me :)


IamaScoutAMA OP wrote

The skills that I value the most in my day to day life aren't the most practical/visible: for me it was cooking, project management... Scouting also influenced my ethics and personality quite a bit.

As I said, most of the skills I learned was by being shown and repeating, or doing stuff myself.

So take a backpack and go hiking to learn how to live in minimalist ways, DIY your furniture with pallets to learn how to build. Or join the scouts :)

Also if you're interested in eco-friendly living, look up zerowaste. If you're interested in survivalism, look up military survival guides.

If you need a friend to go hiking with in EU or UK, hit me up lol