BSA Alternatives for Christians?

A reader of this blog asked “what do we do if the resolution passes?”  I can’t give a one-size-fits-all answer that’s going to be appropriate for all readers, but here are some things to consider:

  • First, the resolution which passed yesterday won’t go into effect until January 1, 2014.
  • Second, many BSA units are already “paid up” through the end of 2013, and many boys are close to completing their requirements for Eagle so many families will likely hang in there for a while longer.

However, some families will likely start looking (sooner than later) for a faith-based organization that respects their personal, spiritual beliefs and provides scout craft, wood craft and leadership experiences for their sons.

Please recognize that there are two options to consider:

  1. There are historic organizations that share some scout-like curriculum or program approach (listed below).  They are fine organizations, but as I had pointed out in an earlier article, not all of these programs are universally available in everyone’s geographic area, or may only go up through Sixth Grade in some churches.
  2. There are new organizations being developed presently.  One that I’m familiar with has already put together a model curriculum, an original handbook and is led by dedicated, Christian men who’ve worked in scouting as volunteers and supporters, eagle scouts and scout dads.  Others are likely to “pop up” as well, and there may be some opportunity to consolidate these early programs into a true, National organization.

I recommend praying for God’s specific leading for your family, and that you don’t rush to select the first group you visit — like scouting, each local unit has it’s own personality and preferences.  Additionally, keep tuned in for developments as the new organizations get up and running.  Lastly, if your son is committed to completing his Eagle rank, then be prepared to find faith-based units that can help your son achieve his plan as promptly as possible.

www.traillifeusa.com

 

Program Name:  AWANA
Sponsoring Agency:  AWANA (they are their own 501(c)3 non-profit agency)
Age Range/Grade Levels:  programs available from age 2 thru High School.
Coed?  Yes
Faith Distinctive?  Christian Non-Denominational (serves 100+ denominations)
Web Site: http://awana.org
Overview: Awana (derived from the first letters of Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed as taken from 2 Timothy 2:15) is an international evangelical nonprofit organization founded in 1950, headquartered in Streamwood, Illinois. Awana helps churches and parents work together to develop spiritually strong children and youth who faithfully follow Jesus Christ. Programs offer a proven approach for evangelizing and discipling kids in the church and community. Each week, nearly two million kids ages 2 to 18 participate in Awana. This includes 1.07 million in 102 countries outside of the U.S.

Disclamer – Our troop’s chartering organization, FBC Hackensack, also offers AWANA for K-6 ages.  It is well supported and my own sons participated in AWANA while growing up.

Program Name: Christian Service Brigade
Sponsoring Agency:  CSB Ministries
Age Range/Grade Levels:  Tadpoles (ages 4-5), Tree Climbers (ages 6-7), Stockade (ages 8-11), and Battalion (ages 12-18).
Coed?  No, but partners with GEMS for girls.
Faith Distinctive?  Yes, statement of faith provided and participating churches and leaders are assumed to agree with and follow this statement of faith.                                  (http://www.csbministries.org/site/statement_of_faith/)
Web Site: http://csbministries.org/ (and www.brigadeleader.com)
Overview:  Founded in 1937, CSB describes itself as “…a discipleship ministry dedicated to engaging, encouraging and equipping godly men to raise up godly young men to lead and serve in family, church and community.”  They wear a uniform that mirrors a BSA uniform, and are grouped into 4 age levels: Tadpoles (ages 4-5), Tree Climbers (ages 6-7), Stockade (ages 8-11), and Battalion (ages 12-18). Stockade even offers a Pinewood Derby equivalent called the “Shape N Race” derby. The highest honor available to CSB members is Herald of Christ. CSB also partners with GEMS Girls Clubs (GEMS is Girls Everywhere Meeting the Savior).

Program Name:  Royal Ambassadors / Challengers
Sponsoring Agency:  WMU, Southern Baptist Convention
Age Range/Grade Levels:  Grades 1-6 / Grades 7-12
Coed?  No
Faith Distinctive?  Offered through Southern Baptist Convention to participating churches
Web Site: http://www.wmu.com/index.php?q=children/royal-ambassadors/welcome-ras
Overview:  Royal Ambassadors (RAs) is a Bible-centered, church-based, Southern Baptist missions education organization for boys in grades 1-6.  The RA Motto, “We are Ambassadors for Christ,” not only gives the organization its name, but also gives the boys and leaders a lifestyle goal. This Motto is taken from Scripture, specifically 2 Corinthians 5:20.   Royal Ambassadors leaders utilize activities that are designed to help boys learn about God’s mission, participate in missions experiences, pray for and give to missions, develop and use mission skills, and learn about and support the missions work of their church and denomination.
Web Site:  http://www.wmu.com/index.php?q=students/challengers/welcome-challengers
Overview:  Challengers is a missions organization for teen boys ages 12–17 or in grades 7–12. During a meeting, Challengers participate in missions experiences related to praying for missions, doing missions, learning about missions, and developing a missions lifestyle.  The experiences embrace these six elements of Challengers: biblically-based, action-oriented, relationship-based, learner-focused, accountability-based, and missions driven.  Each month Challengers focuses on the work of a missionary in North America or an international country. Students learn through age appropriate Bible studies and hands-on activities. Many activities in Challengers help students learn about cultural aspects of the missionaries’ work. Students learn by hearing mission stories and using Bible thoughts related to missions. Challengers are given the opportunity to pray for missions, give to missions, and do missions. Some meetings may be devoted to working on or to planning special projects.  Leaders can encourage boys to develop their leadership skills by guiding them to participate and accept leadership according to their age and experience.

Program Name:  Calvinist Cadet Corps
Sponsoring Agency:  Self-governed
Age Range/Grade Levels:  Kingdom Kids (ages 4 and 5); Junior Cadets (boys in grades 1-3); Recruit-Pathfinder-Builder (boys in grades 4-6); Guide Trails (boys in grades 7-9); Voyagers (boys in grades 9-11)
Coed?  Only “Kingdom Kids” appears to be coeducational (ages 4 and 5) but there is an affiliation with GEMS girls clubs (http://www.gemsgc.org/)
Faith Distinctive?  From their web site – The basis of the Calvinist Cadet Corps is the Word of God (the Bible) according to the concept of the same as expressed in the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Belgic Confession. Participating churches must subscribe to their constitution (available online).  Founded in 1952 in Grand Rapids, MI.  As of 2010, it was estimated that the program serves 4000 men and 18000 boys in approximately 600 clubs (unverified).
Web Site: http://www.calvinistcadets.org/
Overview: From their web site – The Calvinist Cadet Corps is an independent (non-denominational) youth ministry organization whose purpose is to provide the local church with a ministry program that will enable them to effectively share Christ’s love with boys from their church and community. Founded in 1952, the Corps has more than 600 clubs throughout North America. We encourage any evangelical Bible believing church to consider using our ministry programs. The organization uses the title “Calvinist” to honor the Protestant reformer, John Calvin, who devoted his life to the religious education of God’s children.

Program Name:  Pathfinders
Sponsoring Agency:  Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Age Range/Grade Levels:  Ages 10-15
Coed?  YES.
Faith Distinctive?
Web Site: http://www.pathfindersonline.org/
Overview:  Program includes advancement activities called “honors” which have been described as similar to scouting merit badges.  Additionally, there are scheduled meetings, community service, outreach activities and camping.  There is a uniform included in the program that bears some similarity to BSA styled uniforms (i.e. includes neckerchief)

Program Name:  Royal Rangers
Sponsoring Agency:  Assemblies of God
Age Range/Grade Levels:  Grades K-12
Coed?  No, but Assemblies of God has a parallel curriculum for girls.
Faith Distinctive?  from their web site “…must be sponsored by a church affiliated with the Assemblies of God or the Pentecostal  Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA).  Other denominations and churches, including independent churches, may qualify if approved by the Assemblies of God district superintendent from the geographic district where the church is located. (Determined on a case-by-case basis)”
Web Site: http://royalrangers.com
Overview: From their web site: Founded in 1962 with approximately 250,000 members in the USA.  ”Royal Rangers provides boys with fun activities in five areas of interest, which we refer to as our “core competencies”:  Outdoor Activities, Sports, Trade Skills, Technologies, and Arts.  Many activities in Royal Rangers involve earning merits [merit badges], which are awards based on the development of skills in one or more of these core areas.”  The program includes a uniform similar to a BSA style uniform.  The program features patrol groupings similar to scouts.  They also emphasize community service and outreach.

Joe Bollig commented on May 24, 5:31 am:

For Catholics, there is the Federation of North-American Explorers (http://www.fneexplorers.com/), part of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe. It now has troops in Toronto (Canada) and New Jersey (near Philadelphia). They are open to expansion.

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About Troop113

Our Troop # comes from Psalm 1:1-3 - describing the men we want our scouts to become
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5 Responses to BSA Alternatives for Christians?

  1. Joe Bollig says:

    For Catholics, there is the Federation of North-American Explorers, part of the International Union of Guides and Scouts of Europe. It now has troops in Toronto (Canada) and New Jersey (near Philadelphia). They are open to expansion.

    • Troop113 says:

      Joe, I’ll update the post with this information. Thank you! Do you happen to have a web site for them? If no, I’ll google them and see what I can dig up. I’m sorry for missing this group!

  2. Pingback: A Christian Alternative to Scouts? | Troop 113's Blog

  3. Luke says:

    There is also ALERT Cadet (http://www.alertcadet.org/) which is home based rather club based. You seem to be pushing Faith Based Boys…are you in on the planning of that group? If so, I hope it is real scouting that we can get behind and be proud of.

    • Troop113 says:

      Hey, Luke. Thanks for the reminder — I’ve been to an ALERT presentation at a homeschool conference, but it’s been a long time — it had slipped my mind — I’ve always had an impression that ALERT is much more like Civil Air Patrol in that the military dress and focus on SAR activities was a little divergent from traditional scouting where the focus was on outdoor recreation.

      Don’t get me wrong, I think that the mission to focus on emergency prep and disaster relief is highly appropriate and helpful.

      Yes, I’ve been asked to participate in the set up of faithbasedboys, but I’ve not actually contributed any material suggestions, or attended any meetings or webcasts at this point. I’m monitoring from the sidelines presently and as far as I can see it will be “real scouting that we can get behind and be proud of.”

      Thanks for the helpful comment!

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