When I was a Girl Scout, we spent most of our time working on badges, preparing for camping trips, or selling delicious cookies. Well you can forget all that. Today's girls (and boys) involved in the Explorers program, an affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America, learn how to combat terrorists, illegal immigrants, and border violence. Since 9/11, Homeland Security has worked closely with the program, with the hope of creating more agents.
Cathy Noriego, a 16-year-old participant, told the New York Times that the guns attracted her to the program. During exercises, the group uses compressed-air guns that fire plastic bullets — but they also fire the real stuff at the range. Cathy said of the guns, "I like the sound they make. It gets me excited."
I feel uneasy about training kids as young as 14 to become armed border patrolmen and women or anti-terrorist vigilantes. The potential for extreme nationalism — brought on by teaching children that non-Americans are a threat — also worries me.
Do you think the Explorers program offers valuable life lessons about leadership and discipline, or does the program perpetuate a culture of violence?