Simba: "Yeah. Looks like the winds are changing."
Rafiki: "Ahh, change is good."
Simba: "Yeah, but it's not easy…"
~ Disney’s The Lion King
Change happens all the time. Some change we anticipate, even expect. Other changes might surprise us, challenge us, move us out of our comfort zone. Sometime we can control or to some extent affect change, other times we can only control our reaction to the change. How we react can be positive or negative and how we react influences how we view the change. Rafiki’s positive outlook lets him see change as good.
Two significant changes will be upon us in the next six months or so. The first is happening at the level of our Lodge. The Indian Waters Council is moving towards combining the Congaree and Catwaba Districts. The combination of these districts should allow for more efficient use of resources at the Council Level and should improve the delivery and support of the Scouting program. Both of these are positive, good things. Combining districts also directly affects our Lodge. OA Lodges, which reflect BSA Council boundaries, may be organized into Chapters which reflect Council Districts.
The purpose of chapters is to streamline the functioning of the Lodge and improve the support provided to the districts by the lodge. Chapters may serve one or more districts, but districts may not be served by more than one chapter. Thus, as the Council moves forward with the combination of the Congaree and Catawba Districts, the Lodge must adjust its structure to reflect the new boundaries. Ehalluchsit and Wishiki could be combined into a single chapter reflecting the boundaries of the combined, yet-to-be-named district. This single chapter would represent around 60% of the total youth membership of Muscogee Lodge. The question to be asked is will this change better serve the District and Council? Will it better serve the Lodge? An alternative is to rethink the existence of chapters within our lodge. Here we should ask questions such as: Are our chapters functioning as they should (i.e. as mini lodges)? Does the existence of chapters help the Lodge to better support the Council and Camp? When the Districts combine – and this will likely become official after the Council’s annual business meeting in December – change at the Chapter Level will happen. What form that change takes is yet to be determined. How we react to this change – positive or negative – will determine if we consider this change good or not.
A second change that is coming is the extension of the Boy Scout program to girls ages 11 – 17 which is scheduled to begin February 1, 2019 and will be called Scouts BSA . At the same time as the new program is rolled out, the OA will begin accepting female youth members. Members of Venture Crews and Sea Scout Ships – both male and female – will become eligible for the OA. These Scouts would need to meet the same camping requirements, have the approval of their unit leaders and achieve the equivalent rank to First Class to be eligible. Elections would work in the same way.
So, in just 6 months, we could see girl troops formed in Scouts BSA and we could see young women elected to the OA. How female youth will be integrated into such things as Summer Camp and OA events has not yet been determined. As our national organization works these questions out, you can be sure there will be opinions on all sides expressed. Some will resist the change just because it involves change; others may be able to offer legitimate arguments about the benefits and costs of such change. Still others will embrace the change, some cautiously, some whole-heartedly. How we react will determine if we, like Rafiki, can say “change is good.’
The theme of this year’s NOAC was Decide Your Destiny. The message in this theme is that it is we who choose our destiny by the way we react to the things around us, including and especially change. How the changes around you affect you – both within the BSA and beyond, is up to you – Decide Your Destiny.
Dan Wagner - Lodge Adviser