Boy Scouts To Accept Girls, But Not Everyone Is Happy

Eagle Scout Nigel Bailey of Troop 962 St. Andrews Methodist Church has earned all 137 merit badges

Eagle Scout Nigel Bailey of Troop 962 St. Andrews Methodist Church has earned all 137 merit badges

The Boy Scouts at the national level announced this week that Cub Scout dens will remain single-gender, but the larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to accept both boys and girls.

Deliberation over the plan had caused friction between the organization and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America, which spilled into public in August when a letter from Girl Scouts President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan that accused the Boy Scouts of trying to bolster dwindling numbers was released.

"If there is a program not being met out there for the girls, and the Boy Scouts are making it available, there's a disconnect there", said Patti Wilson, a lifetime Girl Scout. "What happened yesterday is that we have another new competitor".

Though Cub Scouts rarely, if ever, participate in overnight camping adventures, Hulet said that if Boy Scout troops were to become co-ed, there are simple solutions to avoid any fraternization or inappropriate behavior among troop members.

They say the all-girl environment of the Girl Scouts helps girls grow up with more confidence and independence than in a co-ed environment.

"We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children", Boy Scouts Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement.

Kenya says they even offer the equivalent of Eagle Scout rank. Starting in 2018, they will be allowing girls into the Cub Scouts. Girl Scouts provides a safe and inclusive environment that has been proven over the years, she said. Stone said they've been pushing for full inclusion. "Given our history, as a courtesy, they could have let us know". A program for older girls will be created by 2019.

"In Venturing, there is a manual in place that has instructions on how to do activities with girls and boys together", Hulet said. She questioned whether that was an issue of concern to boys in the Boy Scouts. And there have been deep rifts between leadership and grass-roots members over the direction of programming and efforts by many councils to sell summer camps.

The Boy Scouts Board of Directors unanimously approved the decision after evaluating various nationwide research efforts.

Will Stone, the Scoutmaster of Troop 52, said that having a co-ed program benefits both the girls and boys in his 70-person troop, 16 of whom are girls. As a result, she has mixed feelings about the Boy Scouts' new overture to girls. I think the Boy Scout program is unique among the youth programs.

Mixed feelings also were expressed by the president of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt.

"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law".

Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have experienced sharp drops in membership in recent years.

The change will open the organization to potentially hundreds of thousands of girls.

Those groups said the Boy Scouts' new initiative would not weaken their commitment to single-sex programming.

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