Verdict out on change in Scouting

Ivan Schwartz
October 14, 2017

Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of the Girl Scouts' highest honor, the Gold Award. Once girls cross the bridge to become Boy Scouts, they will have a separate but equal track that could lead them, too, to become Eagle Scouts, the pinnacle of the Scouting experience. "What happened yesterday is that we have another new competitor".

That much is true, and as membership rolls decline for both Boy and Girl Scouts it was perhaps inevitable the two groups come together somehow - and the Boy Scouts blinked first.

"We have observed that overall, those in our Scouting family in the Midlands have been in favor of the idea to include girls in Cub Scouting", said Doug Stone, Scouting executive for the council. Even if they find that Girl Scouts don't meet their needs, identifying what you see as a problem in the world and working to change it is exactly what Girl Scouting teaches, and I hope they find fulfilling experiences in the new Boy Scouting programs.

"'The values of scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, fearless and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women, ' said Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive".

This follows the recent policy changes with the BSA which now allow gay Scouts and adult volunteers, as well as transgender boys, reports note. Cub Scout packs (comprised of multiple dens) will have the option of being co-ed or single gender.

But allowing girls to join the Boy Scouts marks a dramatic change in the organization, and the decision quickly drew an online backlash, as well as criticism from the Girl Scouts, who now would have to compete for members.

"We're out there making a difference in this world", she said. "Given our history, as a courtesy, they could have let us know".

Starting next year the scouting program will begin the process of allowing girls to join.

The move also sends a troubling message: You can do more as a girl in a boys' organization than you can as a girl in a girls' organization.

Barker noted that numerous older girls in her council were interested in talking about issues such as the sexual-assault problem on college campus.

One viewer writing, "This is absolute insanity..." another saying, "I mean, it's interesting because I remember being jealous of what the boys did over in Boy Scouts".

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The new challenge from the Boy Scouts is only the latest in a string of difficulties faced by the Girl Scouts over the past 15 years. Our local councils offer resources as well, so you won't be in it alone.

Perhaps the most important revelation of the study is that the benefits of participating in Girl Scouts are not exclusive to any particular demographic group. And there have been deep rifts between leadership and grassroots members over the direction of programming and efforts by many councils to sell summer camps.

"Leadership skills, courage, confidence - you get to build all of that in Girl Scouts", said Abdi.

To start, it's worth noting that this move is a commentary on what a awful organization the Girl Scouts has become.

"The Boy Scouts' house is on fire", Garcia wrote in the Huffington Post.

With nearly 60 million girls and alumnae across the nation, it's clear that the Girl Scouts program works.

Besides being scout leaders for Troop 14, Juliet LeMond and Lauren Pulley both have sons in the Boy Scouts.

So, no matter where girls live or what their age or background may be, Girl Scouts can help them develop to their full potential.

"Believe me when I tell you, it would be frightful", Gremel said. "I think she took a little bit of a ribbing from the guys".

Mixed feelings also were expressed by the president of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt. There is nothing in the Scout Oath or Scout Law which is specific to men. In the early 2000's, the Boy Scouts of America had a membership of roughly 4 million, but membership had dropped to 2.3 million by 2016.

Other reports by GizPress

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