Portlander Ethan Jewett has fond memories of growing up as a Boy Scout. But as his son Jackson neared Cub Scout age, Jewett felt that, like many parents, he did not want to enroll his son in an organization that continues to exclude LGBT folks and atheists.
So instead of just joining the campaign to transform the Boy Scouts of America, Jewett and other parents are making their own official scout troop. The 55th Cascadia Scouts are open to kids of all genders, sexual orientations, and religions. They already have 45 kids signed up to join the troop on outdoorsy trips.
"My love of the outdoors all traces back to my scouting experience—Troop 259! I really wanted that for my son," says Jewett. "I continue to have hope that the Boy Scouts of America will change. But I have a five-year-old son. Time's up."
The Cascadia Scouts are an official scouting organization, merit badges, scarves, and backpacking trips and all. They are not the only independent scouting group. The World Federation of Independent Scouts oversees hundreds of scout troops worldwide that are distinct from the well-known Boy Scouts of America, including several other alternative troops in America.