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Navigators USA offer ‘inclusive scouting’

With the Boy Scouts maintaining its policy of excluding gays from leadership, interest is growing in Navigators USA, an “intentionally inclusive scouting alternative,” according to a leader of a new chapter in  Palatine.

Navigators Chapter 30 was founded last October, sponsored by Countryside Church Unitarian Universalist, and is growing steadily, said Elizabeth Vesto.  Nationally the group has doubled in size over the past year.

Though it’s sponsored by a church, it’s open to anyone, even non-believers (unlike the Scouts), Vesto said.  “We have a lot of people participating who would not be eligible for the Boy Scouts,” she said.

The chapter has about 25 members, mainly Junior Navigators (ages 5 through 12), with twice-monthly meetings that Vesto charaterized as “family activity nights.” The chapter is focused on community service projects and learning the Navigator Traits, she said. (A Navigator is “truthful, respectful, inclusive, generous, dependable, resourceful, and cooperative.”)

Service projects range from helping to clear invasive species at the Deer Grove Forest Preserve to making “support backbacks” containing a change of clothes and toiletries for ICE detainees, who may have been moved from other parts of the country and released in Chicago “with absolutely nothing,” Vesto said.

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