Plenty of Boy Scout Alternatives; But Few for LGBTs
The Seventh-day Adventist Church's Pathfinders
Dating back more than 60 years, the coed Pathfinders program serves about 35,000 boys and girls ages 10 to 15 in the U.S. and Canada, according to James Black, the church's director of youth ministries for North America.
Black said the program resembles the Boy Scouts in many respects, with an emphasis on camping, plus an array of honors and patches that the youth members can work for.
Unlike the Scouts, however, the Pathfinders operate as a church-based ministry, with a priority placed on community service. However, Black said boys and girls are welcome to join even if not from Seventh-day Adventist families.
Amid the Boy Scouts' turmoil, there's been an upsurge of inquiries from parents about possible participation in the Pathfinders, Black said.
"We don't want to gain off of someone else's misfortune - but we want to be there as an available option for healthy, meaningful programs," he said. "We wish the best for the Boy Scouts. ...Our hearts and prayers go out to them."
The Calvinist Cadet Corps Cadet Corps
Founded in 1952, with a headquarters in Grand Rapids, Mich., this is a non-denominational but staunchly religious scouting-style program.
Office Manager Kathy Door said the corps currently serves about 9,900 boys in 550 clubs in the U.S. and Canada, with strong bases of support in Michigan, Illinois, Iowa and the Pacific Coast.
"When someone who hasn't heard of us asks questions, we tell them we're sort of along the lines of Scouting but we are much more conservative," Door said. "There are Bible lessons at every meeting."
Most of the participants come from churches with Calvinist roots, such as the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church.
Door said the Cadet Corps was not trying to capitalize on the Boy Scouts' current predicament, but had received inquiries in recent days from leaders of several local Boy Scout units interested in learning more about the corps.
The Knights of Columbus' SquiresColumbian
This organization for Roman Catholic boys and young men ages 10 to 18 was founded in 1925 and claims a youth membership of more than 25,000, including some in units in Mexico and the Philippines.
The Squires, says the program's Web site, "is an athletic team, a youth group, a social club, a cultural and civic improvement association, a management training course, a civil rights organization and a spiritual development program all rolled into one."
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