The announcement was made in October 2017 that girls would be welcomed into the Boy Scouts of America. Since then, people have wondered what changes that would bring about. Many questioned if the name would change, and what that might look like. The answer to that question came today, and we’re going to discuss it here.
Scouts BSA is the newly announced name for the older program for youth age 11 to 18. This program isn’t slated to start until February 2019, but the Cub Scout program(still called Cub Scouts) has already had some early adopter Packs sign up some girls this year. The BSA has created new brochures to draw in families, and they are going with the welcoming slogan:
Of course, not everyone is feeling the love for the changes BSA is making to the program, and I wanted to address some of the things I’ve seen on various sites today.
“What about Girl Scouts?”
Naturally, we’ve seen this question asked a lot. As someone who has youth in both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, I’m going to address this from what I’ve seen. Not all programs are alike everywhere, and your mileage may vary. I have seen my daughter start in Girl Scouts as a Brownie. She was enthused to have a place to meet with friends, make crafts, sell cookies, and even learn to cook. Our experience in this troop has varied over the years, and now she is a 1st year Senior. They become Seniors in 9th grade. Her current Troop leader works really hard at putting things together for the girls, and Kyrie learned many things under her guidance- including how to sew.
The thing about Girl Scouts is that much of the activities are done with what the girls are interested in. It doesn’t seem to me that the girls in our area are interested in high adventure activities, camping, backpacking, or building fires. When my daughter turned fourteen, she was allowed to join Venturing- the co-ed, high-adventure program for youth ages 14 to 21. Our Boy Scout troop that I was involved in with my son has invited them along on many adventures- rock climbing, skiing, backpacking, and more. My daughter has really enjoyed those activities, and Girl Scouts hasn’t kept up with her interests like Venturing.
Girl Scouts is a great program, but it seems like the Boy Scouts programming may have more of a draw. The Eagle award seems to be more prestigious than other awards in other programs. I’m not certain as to why that is. I always hear about Eagle awards, and I very rarely hear about Girl Scout Gold awards. I doubt that girls joining Boy Scouts will make the Girl Scouts program go away. There are many girls who enjoy what they do in Girl Scouts.
“Boys need to be taught to be boys”
What does that even mean? Girls have been coming on troop activities with us for many years, and our boys are not less boy because of it. BSA isn’t focused on teaching boys how to be boys anyway. They teach leadership skills, team work, and overcoming obstacles. These are things both boys and girls can learn. They also learn life skills- things like cooking, first aid, personal management, physical fitness, and more.
Girls are going to be their own troops, though, so I don’t see that they’ll be interfering with the safe spaces of boys. On our backpacking trips that have the Venture crew girls along for the ride, the girls do their own thing, and no boys have had to carry their stuff for them(a ridiculous argument I heard today).
“Why would you let your girls go camping with boys?”
People seem to think that some bad things are going to happen when you put members of the opposite sex in tents in the wilderness. Let me start by saying that girls and boys aren’t sleeping in tents together. I’ve been on several trips with Boy Scouts and girl Venture crew members. They slept in separate tents in different areas with leaders nearby. I kept a watchful eye out. Again, girls did their own thing and stayed away from the boys for the most part. Two deep leadership in Venturing requires at least one adult(over 21) female to be present. There is no hanky-panky going on. Scouting is co-ed in most countries, with the U.S. being one of the last to get on board, for many years. All the abuse stories I hear seem to come from the U.S., and always involving men. Yet, girls joining scouting seems to be the problem that is signalling the end of times to some.
I, for one, am looking forward to the new changes, and I hope that I’ve shed some light on why this isn’t a terrible thing. Please feel free to leave comments or questions on this controversial issue. Respectful comments will be approved by us, so please remember the Scout law that includes “friendly, courteous and kind.”