In October 2017, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will begin accepting girls into all of their programs.
Before this change, girls were allowed in the Sea Scout program, the Venturing program, and the Exploring program, but had to be over the age of 14 to join and were not allowed in Cub Scouts or to make the rank of Eagle of Scout.
There have been female adult leaders and Boy Scouts of America employees for many years.
The beginning of 2018 saw the first girls joining Cub Scout dens, and starting in 2019, girls will be able to join the older youth scouting program, which has recently been renamed from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts BSA.”
This change came earlier this week, and the Boy Scouts of America made sure to clarify that the umbrella organization would keep the word “boy” in the name.
Dropping the BOY in Boy Scouts. The name will change to Scouts BSA. Now that the first girls are signing up for cub scouts, no “boy” or “girl” labels, as older girls are welcomed into scouts next year. @wsbtv pic.twitter.com/uPKA2zBEJ8
— Linda Stouffer (@LindaWSB) May 2, 2018
This decision has provoked a lot of backlash.
Some critics claim that single-gender organizations should not be done away with. Others have said that there’s a reason the Girl Scouts exist and if girls are unhappy with the program then they should fix it.
The Girl Scouts have also had some issues with the decision. They told ABC News in a statement back in October that, “The Boy Scouts’ house is on fire. Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA’s senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls.”
Something that isn’t being addressed much in this situation is that The United States is one of very few countries in which scouting is not co-ed.
Scouting was invented in England, and the Boy Scouts of America wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for Robert Baden-Powell and his creation of “Scouting for Boys” in 1907. England started allowing all female youth to join their scouting program in 1990, and in recent years there have been more girls signing up than boys. Other countries that have co-ed scouting include Australia, Sweden, and Canada, amongst others.
I am a female who has worked at a Boy Scout camp the last three summers of college.
Philmont Scout Ranch is a high adventure base in Cimarron, NM that sends crews on backpacking trips through the mountains, and a large portion of the staff are female. Many of the other girls that worked there had been involved in Venturing starting at age 14, but others, myself included, had no experience with the BSA before arriving to work.
Based on my experiences as a female adult working for the Boy Scouts, I absolutely am on board with girls being allowed to join at a younger age. The experiences I had — and the confidence I gained — from merely working for the BSA have shown me the power that this organization can have over someone’s life. As a child, I was a tomboy, and I did not have a positive experience in the Girl Scouts, as it wasn’t the right fit for me. I found the organization that is the perfect fit for me at the age of 19, and now other girls can find that fit sooner.
Time will tell how this change will truly go over in the scouting community in the United States. Female Cub Scout dens are already making positive headlines, with one having led the flag ceremony at a Washington Nationals baseball game last weekend, so hopefully, the positive light will continue as more girls make their way into scouting.
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