Cub Scout leaders prepare to welcome girls to program

Lloyd Doyle
October 21, 2017

Girl Scouts, Pyke said, helps girls find their potential and goal, and members shine compared with their peers in areas such as academic performance, leadership and career aspirations.

As a proud Eagle Scout and the father of a young man who is close to attaining the same honor, I received more than a few questions from family and friends about last week's announcement that Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting girls next year. While my perceptions are definitely not accurate I think they say a lot about how the two organizations are portrayed to society, boys being more outdoorsy than girls. We knew that worldwide scouting is just Scouts, not Boy or Girl Scouts. "What happened yesterday is that we have another new competitor". Its latest decision prompted a blistering response from the Girl Scouts. But instead of leaving it up to Girl Scouts to change their programs, it appears the reasonable thing to do is to allow girls to join an organization with "boy" in its name.

Girl Scouts is a safe place for girls to find new opportunities and learn new things. Unless that blows up somehow, I'd expect a full gender merger after 2020 or so, followed by the BSA dropping the "B" for Boy and simply becoming Scouts of America, or just Scouting. Next year, younger girls will be able to join Cub Scouts, and older girls will be able to join Boy Scouts in 2019.

"They never reached out to let us know what was happening", she said. "I don't know whether that needs to change". And, unless the change means separate programs for boys and girls, the BSA change would deprive boys of a valuable single-sex activity.

Lisa Margosian, a spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts, countered that "so much of a girl's life is a life where she is in a coed environment, and we have so much research and data that suggest that girls really thrive in an environment where they can experiment, take risks, and stretch themselves in the company of other girls". An internally-developed campaign, "G.I.R.L. Agenda Powered by Girl Scouts" kicked off October 6 at an OH event that included the likes of Chelsea Clinton, Gabby Douglas and Barbara Pierce Bush. And in the professional realm, the distinction of "Gold Award Girl Scout" is seen as exemplary, setting these girls above other candidates. She admitted, however, that co-ed scouting changes the dynamic.

Plonsky said that her concern stemmed more from the lack of information from BSA than anything else.

Suellen Nelles, who heads the Farthest North Girl Scout Council in Fairbanks, Alaska, suggested that the series of problems caused the Girl Scout leadership to neglect their relationship with the Boy Scouts.

"Next to being a dad, being a lawyer, and a state representative, I'm an Eagle Scout, and that's a big deal and half the population can't say that", said Ucci.

"The Boy Scouts' house is on fire", Garcia wrote in the Huffington Post. She said that she "didn't want to make assumptions", but thought that BSA membership was driving the dispute, citing what she called the Boy Scouts' "dropping numbers". The stereotypes of the Girl Scouts does not account for girls who may be more interested in outdoor adventuring activities like what the Boy Scouts do. As a result, she has mixed feelings about the Boy Scouts' new overture to girls. Additionally, one-of-a-kind civic engagement programming gives girls the chance to take the lead on issues they care about in their communities and be recognized by their peers and neighbors as the societal champions they are. "I just wish it were with the Girl Scouts".

Mixed feelings also were expressed by the president of the National Organization for Women, Toni Van Pelt. She welcomed the Boy Scouts' decision to admit girls, yet in the same statement bemoaned the fact that Girl Scouts seem to struggle more than the BSA in terms of financial support.

Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have experienced sharp drops in membership in recent years. From coast to coast and inner city to rural plain, there are millions of boys in need of motivation, guidance, and leadership skills - which Boy Scouts can provide.

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