Founded in 1999 in Index, Wash., the Spiral Scouts was initially conceived as the youth group for the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC). The ATC is the first Wiccan church to receive full legal status.
But when the Spiral Scouts began a national expansion in 2001, the organization avoided rigid identification with any one particular faith. Though open about its basis in pagan beliefs and practices, Spiral Scouts is described more as a program for girls and boys of minority faiths working, growing and learning together. They are a variety of spiritual people who don’t necessarily identify themselves with a certain group.
The Spiral Scouts organization has now spread to 20 states, Canada and Europe. Currently, 127 different groups have been chartered, ranging in age from preschoolers to teenagers to parents. Groups can be structured in two ways: as a “hearth,” which is composed of a single family, or as a “circle,” which has a wider membership.
Spiral Scouts is very similar to mainstream scouting organizations. Members wear uniforms, attend monthly meetings, camp and learn wilderness skills. They perform community service and earn merit badges in subjects ranging from sculpture to ecology and nutrition. The organizational structure of the group is also comparable to its better-known counterparts, with different levels of membership corresponding to a child’s age. Youngsters aged 3 to 6 are known as Fireflies and those aged 9 to 13 are termed Spiral Scouts. Pathfinders, the highest level of membership, denotes teenagers aged 14 to 18. But where the Boy and Girl Scouts recite a pledge to “do my duty to God and my country,” a Spiral Scout promises, among other things, to “respect living things” and “respect the beauty in all creations.” Also, Spiral Scout merit badges are set up in five categories--earth, air, fire, water and spirit--that correspond to the five points of the Wiccan pentacle. One major difference between the Spiral Scouts and the mainstream scouts is that membership is not gender-specific. Each circle is required to have both a male and female leader, who must first undergo extensive background checks.
The Spiral Scouts is not about not being some other group. They are their own holistic group that exists for the kids and the families.