My daughter desperately wants to join. I'm fine with it, except the pledge to "serve god". it is a mostly secular group and they are free to substitute the word 'god' with another word or phrase that expresses their feelings.

I'd like not to taint her before she even feels a part of the group - but she's way too young to pledge service to any tradition. I am leaning toward "the law" as a substitute phrase, but realistically, I'm softening here on just letting her assimilate.

Ideas, suggestions?

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We tried Girl Scouts.  It didn't work out for us.  I told the leader we were atheists.  Every meeting turned into discussions about god and me biting my lip the whole time.  I complained all the way up to the state level, but nothing happened.  If it were me, I would be very cautious with this group.  they used to be pretty tolerant, but seem to be becoming less so.
I was in Girl Scouts as a kid and then as a leader when my daughter was young.  I never even thought about it being in any way religious.  Guess I just didn't think about it then, or in our group, it was just doing fun stuff with no talk ever about religion.

The religion factor probably varies depending on what state you're in. In very religious states,\ its likely that most of the leaders are also very religious, so religion is more likely to be snuck into the agenda.

Our daughter has been in GS in Colorado (two separate troops) and Oregon. Each of them had differing views on using the text in their pledge, but all agreed that adherence wasn't strictly required. No proselytizing took place, especially notable as my wife was a troop leader for a time and had some religious kids in her troop. In all, the girls (by my observation) were welcomed in spite of what their beliefs said. I recall discussions of religion were put off for "the Parents" to hold, not the troop.

My daughter is not sold on the idea of staying in or completing many of the projects in spite of the long term benefits of Scouting or earning a Gold Award (supposed to equal the Eagle Scout level), but that's a discussion between a Parent and a Teenager. erf.

If you're looking for a reasonable long-term activity, GS isn't bad, but they won't change the pledge. Look into Camp Quest, there's probably one near enough for you to carpool with another parent. Also, we got into target archery a couple of years ago, lotsa fun for the family!

We do have a Camp Quest that will be up and running next summer!  I am drawn to the scouts as a year-round opportunity for her to get out and do good as part of a group.  We will definitely be supporting Camp Quest in 2012 :)
I guess I would be a hard liner on this one and say don't do it.  Girl scouts and Boy scouts is a religiously based group and there is no way of getting around it.  Wether you are in a group that is highly religiously lead or not so much the core of the group is religious and you cannot escape it.  On the other hand it could be a teaching device to help your child learn how to be proud of who she is in the face of tyranny.  There is no one answer.  I just get fired up that there is so little for atheist to do in terms of joining group activities.  I think you just need to look for specific skills you want to teach and then join that group.  For example if you want to teach your child how to write poetry, join a writing group; look at art, cooking, sports, nature. 
I guess my Mom was naive (sp?) about GS when I was young, and I was about it when my daughter was young.  NEVER occurred to me that it was anything to do with religion, never heard anyone say anything religious ever (guess I wasn't thinking about the pledge).  Maybe because I was raised without religion I never 'saw' it in anything or just ignored it?  It is true that they have religion in their pledges though.  Being older, wiser, and just more pissed-off about non-religious people being attacked for their non-belief , I would re-think this now if I were involved.

Thanks for being the control in this group.  I hear you.  If I was looking for a group for myself, I'd skip on the scouts.  

As a Mom, I'm thinking I need to give my little girl the chance to "make nice" with a diverse peer group and to learn how she feels.  I get frustrated at the lack of non-religious youth activities, too (they even have the community sports teams).

I attended church camps and was even a counselor one year... Odd that they didn't ask me back :)  I survived and am stronger for the experience - I think I might just owe my daughter similar opportunities.

 

The Girl Scout Promise can be made in English, Spanish, or in American Sign Language with the same meaning.[13]

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.[14]

The Promise is often recited at Girl Scout troop meetings while holding up the three middle fingers of the right hand, which forms the Girl Scout sign. Girl Scout policy states that the word "God" may be interpreted depending on individual spiritual beliefs. When reciting the Girl Scout Promise, "God" may be substituted with the word dictated by those beliefs. The Girl Scout Motto is "Be Prepared."

I think we're headed this direction.  Thank You :)  I plan on being pretty involved and hope to catch any problems while they are small.  

I searched on facebook for our chapter and found a local troop leader.  She seemed quirky and educated.  That she would support and advertise her pro-choice stance is very encouraging.  If she is typical of the local group, we will be just fine!

Thanks everyone for the responses!  My daughter has herself all spun-up and committed to the idea already, my husband was sold from the word "cookie".  I'm mostly just excited about all the corny photo-ops and seeing my firstborn in khakis :)  

Wish us luck

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