Cavalcades are very appealing to girls. As a result, you might be looking at a co-ed group. Initially, as a leader, I came from a very different background than a lot of Boy Scout Leaders. I was a Girl Scout Leader. When the girls in my troop became eligible, they switched to Venturing and we became a very large, all girl Crew. My first Cavalcade was at Buffalo Trails Scout Ranch in Texas and we were their first all girl Crew. I love working with girls. They are sweet, funny and more kind to each other than the boys are to each other. However, it was very eye opening to see the behavior of some of the other girls in the sister Crew on that first Cavalcade. They were in a mostly all boys camp and they were a hot commodity. Quite frankly, Boy Scouts doesn’t really prepare or train the parents and leaders on how to deal with girls in an all male pond. The clothing and behavior of the girls in the other crew was embarrassing. I could tell that the leaders in the sister Crew didn’t really know how to handle it. As a result, they didn’t do anything. For my own group, I was very proud of them. I had been with these girls since they were in grade school. We respected each other and they knew that their behavior reflected back upon me. I held them up to a high standard and they easily reflected that standard.
As the years have gone by, I have taken both boys and girls on treks that I didn’t know very well. They weren’t necessarily close to me nor did they understand my expectations before we started working together. My subsequent Cavalcades have all been co-ed. But after that first Cavalcade, forewarned is forearmed. I have had some beautiful girls in my Crew and I know how a pretty girl can affect a teenage boy (this is not a criticism to either girls or boys). However, to my surprise, my experience is such that I prefer the co-ed group. It is always a good thing when both boys and girls learn to respect each other. I discuss my expectations with the kids ahead of time. This includes not only behavior but how the kids should dress. I personally don't care how the girls dress in a normal environment. However, we are at a Boy Scout camp. This means no tank tops, short shorts, low cut shirts, flip flops etc. (of course, as my daughter will remind me, this holds true for the boys as well). The kids also voice their opinions and expectations. Everyone buys into those expectations.
For the boy’s part, they need to learn how to not sexualize the girls. I have had some boys say some inappropriate things to the girls and some extremely inappropriate things behind their backs. I always warn both the boys and girls before we leave home, yet some do forget. Unfortunately for them, I always find out and then they have to deal with me. That’s ok. We all can be knuckleheads when we are young and not so young. We’re here to build character and citizenship. What better opportunity is there for that, then taking a teenage, co-ed group on a trek in the backcountry of Philmont?