What’s up with the Boy Scouts?

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Last Wednesday the Boy Scouts of America announced it is becoming Scouts BSA in February 2019 to reflect its decision to include girls. The announcement took a lot of people like us by surprise. We always thought the Girl Scouts took care of the female side of scouting.

The all-male Cub Scouts program for younger children was the first to open its ranks to girls. Thousands of girls have already joined under an early adopter program. Other Boy Scout programs like an outdoor program called Venturing were already open to girls. But none of these programs offered girls the opportunity to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

You have to wonder how all of this is going over in the world of Girl Scouting. It certainly can’t be good. Those officials are probably not too excited about this change which is bound to affect its membership. We can’t imagine the Girl Scouts changing their name to include the opposite gender. The Boy Scouts just beat them to it.

Apparently both the Boy and Girl Scouts are experiencing some membership issues. The Boy Scouts went from a high of 6.5 million members in 1972 to a then low of 4.3 million in 1980. Losses were blamed on changes in advancement requirements.

In 2014 the Boy Scouts admitted openly gay boys into scout troops and membership dropped 6 percent, the largest decline in membership in the history of the organization. Membership in the Boy Scouts is about 2.4 million today with another nearly one million volunteers.

Girl Scouts today number 1.8 million with another 800,000 volunteers. Both organizations trace their roots back to the early 1900s. The Boy Scouts were organized Feb. 8, 1910 and grew rapidly to become the largest youth organization in the country. It had early ties to the YMCA. The Girl Scouts were organized March 12, 1912.

“As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,” Boy Scouts of America chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement last week. “That is why it is important that the name for our Scouting program for older youth remain consistent with the single name approach used for the Cub Scouts.”

We are perplexed by this line of thought. Maybe we are showing our age if we make such a controversial statement like boys and girls are different and are interested in different things. Some programs are designed specifically for a certain gender and are a reflection of their life goals.

It’s not unusual today to have all-male or all-female organizations. One only has to look at college campuses of higher learning to see that both fraternity and sorority programs are alive and well today. We don’t see a big movement for either of these types of social organizations to admit those of the opposite sex.

Both scouting programs are some of the country’s largest and most prominent. They are both values-based youth development organizations that help build character for young people. It seems that both will be watered down by this move by the Boy Scouts to become Scouts BSA and include girls. It certainly can’t possibly benefit the present-day Girl Scouts.

2 COMMENTS

  1. First of all, I’d like to comment on the informational, unbiased tone of this article. This is the standard of journalism we can be proud of.

    On the subject, I have to say I approve of this change. Scouts BSA is a life skills organization, and life is no longer a boys vs. girls sport. The move toward co-ed Scouting removes the burden of gender separation from our children’s backs, offering familiarity and proof of likeness to prepare them for the egalitarian future that awaits.

    Furthermore, this inclusivity encourages children to explore the world based on their interests rather than limiting those experiences with gender-based social imperatives.

    Study after study has shown that children raised in gender-diverse environments show more confidence around the opposite sex, more tolerance toward gender non-conforming expressions, and a broader range of life skills. Boys raised with sisters tend to be more active fathers and satisfying partners. Girls raised with brothers are more likely to learn how to change a tire. In both cases, these children are more likely to exhibit diplomacy in the workplace as adults. These are the people with the greatest career mobility.

    As for me, my kindergartner is a Scout and so is his best friend. He doesn’t act any differently around her than he does his male friends. He’s young and hasn’t been taught to view girls as different through gender separation.

    I don’t know why the Boy Scouts embraced a co-ed model first. Maybe they’re just more knowledgeable and forward thinking. Whatever the case, I have sons and daughters and I’m grateful they’ll be able to share the Scouting experience together. (Not just because it’s easier on the family calendar.)

  2. World wide, the USA is one of the few remaining countries with scouts (boy) to let girls into their program. There’s records back to 1905ish in Britain (I think it was) documenting the first girl “boy scout” troop.

    There’s always been girls that like the mud better then petticoats. That like to fish rather then sew. That enjoy camping rather then making bread. And the truth is, BSA offers a program with set requirements to get to the next level at each age and Girl Scouts has always depended on the leadership.

    Boys Scouts, over all, has always been a family based program. Moms, sisters, cousins, etc have been dragged to the meetings for years for the sons of the family to participate and be acknowledged….all the while that they were participating as well. Now the females can be acknowledged also and awarded for doing the same things. Girls being welcomed and awarded for doing the same thing their brothers and family members are doing isn’t bad, if that’s their choice to join Scouts.

    The girls are growing, learning, and accomplishing things boys have for years…and finally getting recognized. Bad? Nope. Great? Yes. They get down and dirty, just like the boys…. clean fish like champs, build awesome wood working projects, and continue to try their best at everything (Cub Scout Motto hint hint).

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