By now you have heard that the Boy Scouts of America will begin to allow Cub Scout packs to register girls beginning next fall, and a program for older girls is on the way as well.
This is a long-awaited (and long-feared) advance in our programs. Embraced by many, it’s also criticized by some who fear the erosion of our “traditional” values. But experts up and down have endorsed the concept as a way to unite families and make Scouting more convenient for today’s families fragmented by diverse schedules and activities.
The core of the apple is this: Beginning in the fall of 2018, chartered organizations have the ability to include girls in our Cub Scout programs. Packs can be all-boy, all-girl or mixed; dens, however, are to be single-gender. The program should be suitable for both boys and girls; educational consultants have reviewed the advancement program and activities and found them to apply regardless of gender.
But what are we to do when girls receive Arrow of Light and look to cross over? At least for now, they won’t be able to join a traditional troop, so work has begun on designing a program for girls beyond the fifth grade. An experimental program has been underway for in-between-age girls to bridge them from Cub Scout age to co-ed Venturing, but the new program, as envisioned, will allow girls to have access to a Boy Scout-like program and earn traditional ranks just like the boys do – all the way to Eagle Scout.
An added plus to the move is that it will open the opportunity for many girls to experience Scouting in areas not served by Girl Scout units, such as small and rural communities. And, of course, busy parents could have one less different activity to involve their children in.
Of course, the BSA has offered girls the opportunity to be part of our organization almost since its inception. Sea Scouting was started in 1912 and has had both male and female members from the start. The longstanding Exploring program and its offspring, Venturing, have also had the mixed-gender option for decades. But these programs were only available to girls age 14 and older, while our traditional, core programs – Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts – have been strictly off limits to girls, much the same as boys have been forbidden from taking part in Girl Scout programs.
There is already much criticism, and a good deal of misinformation, about the impending changes. And, of course, there is much deliberative behind-the-scenes discussion that most of us won’t have access to. The best way to understand the changes may be to form your own opinion based on what the BSA has told us and will be telling us as we go forward. Read between the lines, if you like, but here are some of the posts and resources that have been offered from the BSA in the past several days.
From Scouting Wire, the official news source for employees, volunteers and parents
- The BSA Expands Programs to Welcome Girls from Cub Scouts to Highest Rank of Eagle Scout – Official news release
- Top 6 Things to Know about Inviting Girls to the BSA
- Our Commitment to Our Values As We Make Scouting Accessible to Families
- Thoughts on Girls in Scouting from a Mom who is a Cub Scout Leader