Friday, March 14, 2008

Sunday School and Girl Scouts

A few months ago my daughter came home with a flyer about a new Brownie troop forming at her school. There will be an organizational meeting for interested families and blah blah blah ...

I sat with the flyer in my hand and remembered my own girlhood. I was a Brownie, then a Girl Scout for a few years. I enjoyed it for the most part. I hated selling cookies and there was one leader who definitely over-emphasized the crafts, (She's heading for the glue and Popsicle sticks again! Run for your lives!) But mostly it was good. I learned stuff. I made friends. I earned badges. I went to camp. My Girl Scout career ended when we moved to a new town and I never hooked up with a new troop. I recall my Mom asking at one point, "Should we look for a Girl Scout troop here?" I shrugged non-commitally and it never happened. Before long, I had gotten involved in other activities in our new city and the subject was dropped.

I sat with the flyer and thought about my family's life now. Two parents working full time. A pretty full slate of extra curricular activities for both kids already. Was this something we needed to pursue? Really?

"Are you interested in Brownies?" I asked my daughter. She shrugged non-commitally.

I let it ride.

Why am I telling you this? Because I have a big feeling this is the way an awful lot of parents feel about Sunday School. It was a pleasant part of their own childhood. They recall it without horror or revulsion or regret. But when it comes right down to it, they don't see it as something they really have to pass on to the next generation. They think the lessons and values they learned there can be learned pretty readily elsewhere. Given the business of their lives and all there is out there for kids to do, this one thing is not really essential.

I saw a bunch of cute little girls in green outfits doing a service project in one of the local parks the other day. I felt a twinge of guilt for not making the effort to give my daughter the opportunity to have that experience.

But I still let it ride.


Presbyterian Gal said...

I share the twinges of guilt with you as I look at my son's life. We're not doing baseball this year because of an extraordinarily hideous teacher. Scouts were never even a choice because the troop leader at school only invited the Asian boys, after her friends were signed up.(long story).

Sunday school almost went that way, like you said, for the same reason. Fortunately our church has made improvements and they actually teach from the Bible at least once a month.

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

WOW. That is an intersting take on it.

I know this about Brownies and Girl Scouts. I never was one. My daughter was. She had the most awesome leader. She learned valuable life skills. She got to travel.

I am so glad that she got to do those things. Otherwise, I could not have been able to afford some of the things that she was exposed to.

Quotidian Grace said...

Verry interesting analogy. I think you have something here. We, too, let Girl Scouts ride. Part of the reason was the pressure for cookie sales which was insane in our area for some reason. Another was that, frankly, I didn't want to be a leader because I was organizing children's choir at church, teaching Sunday School etc etc.

I didn't have much background in scouting, either. My sister, on the other hand, was in a great troup with a wonderful leader. The girls stayed together through high school and gave each other wedding showers after college. Maybe if my experience had been like hers I would have made it a priority for my two girls.

Auntie Knickers said...

I moved a lot as a child so I had a couple years of Brownies and then a year or so of GS a little later. Although my parents weren't churchgoers I did go to Sunday School of one kind or another from 2nd grade on. I think one of the problems now is that there are so many other "extracurriculars" and people tend to think of Sunday School as just another one...not to mention the ones that cause conflicts, such as Sunday morning soccer matches. With my own kids I may have erred on the side of too little extra activities, but they seem to have turned out OK. And we never had a problem with Sunday School.I'd advise parents to revisit the activities their kids are involved in each year.

Gannet Girl said...

Very interesting parallel.

My dd did Brownies and Juniors and one year of Cadettes, and I did what seemed like endless trainings to be certified to lead huge groups of girls on campouts, when my idea of a good time is a fairly solitary wilderness spot sans games, crafts, sans pots and pans, sans crowds. Oddly enough, dd's troop was based in her Montessori school and the other leaders, one of whom was a Montessori the-sky-will-fall-if-we-ever-engage-in-competitive-behavior teacher, became absolutely obsessed with badges. Neither dd nor I could stand that part -- I wonder if she even remembers all the time we put in.

I was always glad about the Thin Mints, though.

Anitra said...

I grew up in the girl scouts and for the most part it was one of the best formational parts of my childhood & adolescence. I hit one troop leader who was prissy but that was a bad and single year. The parts of me that get involved in volunteer work and enjoys camping came from Girl Scouts. The troop leader I had in Junior High was a huge and importantly solid counter-weight to some of the chaos that was going on at home.

But these are different times in so many ways. I started a daisy troop for my eldest daughter but became distracted with politics not too long later and well... its hard to run a troop when going door to door.

sanctifyingsarah said...

I applaud you for making a difficult choice. Parents need to decide what is really important and not just say yes to everything that comes along. Family dinners need to be on that list too! I agree with Sunday School too. I would add that I can't get parents to volunteer to teach and their number one excuse, "I don't know the Bible well enough!" Isn't that sad, a 35 year old won't teach a 5 year old, and worse isn't doing anything to know the Bible better!