It is the expectation of AHG, Inc. that girl members not only subscribe to but strive to live according to the values represented in the AHG Oath and Creed, as they have agreed to when becoming a member. With this expectation, it is also understood that, just like adults, girls face temptation and are not without sin. Because we all fall short from time to time it is important that the AHG Troop remain a place of grace and truth. Girls, especially during their adolescent years, are trying to determine who they are and how their faith and the culture play into that identity. AHG can serve a critical role in guiding girls toward their identity in Christ. AHG is meant to be a ministry of transformation—a ministry which surrounds girls with godly adults that will offer them sound Biblical advice, encouragement, grace and truth. AHG should be a safe place for girls to navigate the confusion that is today’s moral landscape.
When a girl falls short of living up to the AHG Oath and Creed, it is not a time for her immediate dismissal from the Troop. It is a time when a girl needs the Christ-centered program of AHG, her parents, her church and the faith-filled adults of her Troop the most. When a girl engages in behavior which contradicts the Oath or Creed, it is important that she understands her error and is given an opportunity to change. These behaviors might include, but are not limited to: gossip, bullying, stealing, sexual activity outside the context of marriage (opposite-sex or same-sex*), illegal use of drugs or alcohol, etc. When Troop Leadership becomes aware that a girl is engaging in such behavior, there are a number of steps that must precede dismissal from the program.
- Depending on the level of severity of the behavior, the parents of the girl should be notified and included in the process. If the Charter Organization has policies regarding the behaviors being addressed, please refer to the Charter Organization for input, if agreeable to the parent. With parent approval, the trusted Unit Leader and/or Troop Shepherd plus one other adult (maintaining two-deep-leadership) should discuss their concerns with the girl in a loving manner. “Here is why we are concerned. Here is why this behavior contradicts the Oath/Creed.” Share the Scriptural references regarding these behaviors. Girls should be given an opportunity to show remorse, repent and determine a plan for changed behavior. Accountability should be established in a manner which preserves confidentiality and promotes youth safety as described in AHG’s KEYS to Child Safety Training.
- If the girl member does not show remorse, does not agree to a plan of action, or repeats the behavior of concern, Troop Leadership should meet with the girl’s parents/guardians as soon as possible, no matter how small the infraction. Troop Leadership should explain in a loving manner why the behavior is of concern, why it contradicts the AHG Oath/Creed and what steps have been taken to assist the girl in addressing the issue. Following this meeting, girls should be given another opportunity to show remorse, repent and determine a plan for changed behavior. Accountability should be established in a manner which preserves confidentiality and promotes youth safety as described in AHG’s KEYS to Child Safety Training.
- If the girl member denies the behavior while the evidence is overwhelming, Troop Leadership must stand for truth and challenge the girl member to be truthful. Troop Leadership should explain that grace is available to all, but where truth cannot be found, grace will not be applied. If the girl member refuses to be truthful, then Troop Leadership should meet with her parents/guardians to explain the evidence, to describe the consequences that are available dependent on the girl member’s willingness/unwillingness to be truthful, and to request that the parents/guardians counsel their girl member. Troop Leadership should offer the parents/guardian and the girl member 24 to 48 hours to respond to the evidence and the possible consequences.
- If the girl member continues to not accept responsibility for the behavior, does not show remorse, does not agree to a plan of action, or repeats the behavior of concern, Troop Leadership should again meet with the girl and her parents/guardians. At this meeting, discussions should be had around engaging a pastor, priest or other church leader within the girl’s preferred denomination. Outside ministries that specialize in the issue at hand may also be engaged at this time. The object of this meeting is to again work on a plan of action in order to assist the girl in understanding her behavior, its consequences and work to overcome it. If the parents and girl understand the concern around the behavior and are willing to implement a plan for change, then the girl should be allowed to remain in the Troop. The Troop Volunteers are not expected to provide counsel, which is the job of the parents, but rather show support and acknowledgement of the worth of the girl.
- If the above avenues have all been exhausted and the girl continues her behavior, refuses to recognize the behavior as contradictory to the Oath/Creed, and/or poses a threat to other girls in the Troop, she may be asked to terminate her membership in American Heritage Girls. The goal for every Troop should be to keep the girl in the Troop. The decision to ask a girl to leave a Troop should be one covered in prayer and discernment and in which counsel of the Charter Rep and the Member Services Coach is sought.
*Scripture addresses the issues of sin: homosexuality, adultery, fornication, lust, pornography, lying, stealing, etc. Sin is contrary to God’s design and purposes (Romans 1:1, 1 Corinthians 6:1, 1 Timothy 1, and Leviticus 18). While AHG is well aware that the culture may promote various sins as natural and people are “born that way,” AHG defers to the truth of Scripture that states that these behaviors are “sin” and an “abomination.” AHG Leaders should communicate that God’s grace extends to every form of sin when there is confession, repentance, and dependence on Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
As girls are maturing, there will be natural questions about same-gender attraction and the development of healthy relationships. Parents should also engage these matters with grace, truth, courage and understanding.