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They are scouts, but they are not Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts. They are a 'Guides' group -- but they are similar, they say

DAVID F. ASHTON - Baden-Powell Service Association Rover Rebecca Pilcher shows a T-shirt sized for little-littles, as she puts it. After months of organizing a novel sort of "scouting" group, currently called the "59th Johnson Creek Baden-Powell Service Association" (BPSA), its organizers held the group's inaugural meeting in the lower woods area of Sellwood Park on Sunday morning, of September 26.

The organizers tell THE BEE the new organization is modeled after the original organization founded under the principles and methods originally drafted by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907, in Great Britain. The Boy Scouts of America [founded in 1910] was inspired by and modeled after the British Boy Scout Association, established by Baden-Powell. But this new group is not affiliated with the Boy Scouts.

In 2008 by David Atchley of Washington, Missouri, founded the Baden-Powell Service Association, with the creed, similar to today's Boy Scouts which now also accepts girls, "All people and all families have an equal place in the scouting movement." The Baden-Powell Service Association has purposefully kept its national organization small, reducing the burden of fundraising, and dependence on other organizations, according to the website.

Just recently the organization began the process being renamed Outdoor Service Guides (OSG), which will make the distinction between it and the Boy Scouts cleearer.

"We're glad you came out to the first meeting of '59th Johnson Creek' Outdoor Service Guides this morning," said Rebecca Pilcher. "I'm a volunteer leader, helpingto start this OSG scout group. We're an independent organization, not affiliated with Boy Scouts of America or the Girl Scouts of America; but we are affiliated with the World Federation of Independents Scouts."

Asked why families should be attracted to OSG, rather than to traditional scouting groups, Pilcher replied, "When it started, there were a lot of families who wanted something that was a lot more inclusive; and, a lot more based on outdoor skills.

"Outdoor Service Guides has always included boys, girls, and non-binary children, and is for people of all ages – from the little ones, all the way up to adults," explained Pilcher.

There are subgroups, similar to traditional scouting, based on ages: Starting with Otters, pre-teen Timberwolves, and teenage Pathfinders, we learned.

From 'Otters' to 'Rovers'

DAVID F. ASHTON - These Timberwolves Guides are moving up to become Pathfinders. "The fun thing for me and my husband is that after one turns 18, one can still be a scout, as a 'Rover' – which is the adult scouting group that goes out and earns badges, and continues doing community service for the rest of their lives. This means one can't 'age-out' of Outdoor Service Guides; we get to be involved as a family, even if you're not a leader," elaborated Pilcher.

Because of her participation as "Rover", Pilcher remarked that she is one of the few in the United States that have earned the "Baden-Powell Service Award"; the highest honor in the World Federation of Independents Scouts. "This means that I have gone through all of the different levels of training, earned badges of service, outdoor skills, wilderness training, medical training, and other things, to be at this level."

Meeting in the great outdoors

A major distinction for their group, Pilcher pointed out, is that the OSG clubs are based on meeting and being outdoors – not in a building. "We almost always meet outdoors, unless the specific service group effort takes place inside – or, unless the weather is just too horrible outside. We camp, and we have done a lot of tree planting and cleanup projects, and other service activities – regardless of the weather."

The training is skills- and project-based, she said. "Skills that the youngest members learn are the foundation for more complex activities they'll learn in the future as they continue in the OSG."

With that, it was time for the meeting to begin. The Group Scout Master, Alan Fryer, explained a bit about their organization and ceremonies, and led a modified flag-raising ceremony.

After that, they held a "moving up ceremony" for Timberwolves to become Pathfinders. Then, they split into groups to do age-appropriate activities, before holding a closing ceremony.

If you'd like to know more about the new organization, e-mail 59th Johnson Creek BPSA Group Scout Master Alan Fryer – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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