Why I’m THRILLED Boy Scouts of America Will Let Girls Join Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts

Why I’m THRILLED Boy Scouts of America Will Let Girls Join Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts *After reading some of the comments it is abundantly clear that most of the […]

Why I’m THRILLED Boy Scouts of America Will Let Girls Join Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts

*After reading some of the comments it is abundantly clear that most of the people pissed about this have NOT actually read the BSA press release and have gross misunderstandings about exactly what was announced. PLEASE, scroll down and read the press release if you haven’t yet.

Executive Summary

*Added October 16, 3pm Eastern
BSA is just making their curriculum available to girls since parents have asked Girl Scouts for a more adventurous program for decades and Girl Scouts won’t do it.

The only things happening at some point in 2018:

  • Cub Packs can offer a duplicate Pack for just girls,
  • Cub Packs can allow female-only dens
  • Cub Packs can choose to remain male-only

So, girls will be with girls and boys will be with boys.

2019

  • BSA plans to announce a way for girls to get access to the Boy Scout curriculum in 2019

A Scout is Trustworthy

I have got to be honest, folks… it’s what us Scouts and Scouters do. I started in Boy Scouts of American (BSA) programs as soon as I was old enough to join Cub Scouts. I stayed active in Boy Scouts until I left for college. As an adult I have been a volunteer leader since shortly after my son started Cub Scouts. He is 15 now… so it’s been more than a few years. With that background in mind, I am baffled, distressed and embarrassed that so many of the great people in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) program have their panties in a bunch over the recent announcement that girls will be welcomed in BSA’s Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs. The full BSA Press release is at the bottom of this article, in case you haven’t read it. It is enlightening.

To date, only a limited portion of the BSA program has been available to girls aged 14 and over via Explorer Posts, Venture Crews and Sea Scout Ships.

Other Scout related articles you might like:

Times they are a changin’

Change can be hard, especially for tradition rich organizations like the 107 year old BSA. However, tradition is no excuse for the ferocity or vigor of the attacks on little girls from some in the BSA community. The most embarrassing are the proclamations from adults that are Eagle scouts, but seem to have forgotten the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Scout Oath
On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Scout Law
A Scout is:

  • Trustworthy,
  • Loyal,
  • Helpful,
  • Friendly,
  • Courteous,
  • Kind,
  • Obedient,
  • Cheerful,
  • Thrifty,
  • Brave,
  • Clean,
  • and Reverent.

The case for girls to have access to the BSA curriculum

Life skills that benefit everyone

I believe that the BSA curriculum has significant and lasting value. It helps shape young people into high quality adults with well rounded life skills and strong moral compasses. Yes. I said “young people” not “young men”. As a father of three (one boy, two girls), the BSA curriculum is very attractive, but also frustrating. The BSA curriculum is proven to develop strong leaders and upstanding citizens. What rational parent wouldn’t want ALL of their children to have the option to participate in such a valuable program? Half of our population are female. Think of the massive additional benefit our society will receive from the expanded reach of the BSA curriculum.

Is a penis really a key ingredient in BSA’s recipe for success?
Of course not?

I have yet to figure out where in the Scout Oath or Scout Law we are directed to only help people that have both X and Y chromosomes. It seems that it took BSA over 100 years to realize that “help other people at all times” doesn’t have mean the program can only help boys. Allowing girls access to the BSA curriculum is, in some ways, a big change. However, it is a positive change that is consistent with Scouting’s values.

Why little girls terrify some people in BSA

I’ve heard a lot of excuses why some Scouters and parents are distressed over welcoming girls to BSA. Here are a few of the most frequent and my thoughts on why I think they are silly.

“But it’s called BOY scouts”

As if that 107 year old name means it is somehow sacrilegious to offer girls the chance to enjoy and benefit from the program. I don’t donate my time to BSA because of anything that happened half a century ago. I’m there to help our youngsters develop into good adults. If BSA wants to keep the current name or change the name to “Scouts of America”, I’m fine with that. Call it “kjasudhfpiu club” if you want. As long as the program delivers real value to young people, I am happy. While I respect the history of the organization, it is just that… history. I’ve never participated in BSA programs because they only served boys.

“Hormonally charged teens can’t handle being around the other gender.”

lunch with on a mixed gender backpacking trip

Completely jumping the gun. The BSA press release says “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.”
And Packs can opt to remain boy-only.

The Boy Scout program for girls won’t even be announced until next year, and not implemented until 2019. We won’t know until it is announced if it will be the same structure or if there may be an option to have mixed-gender units… like a Troop that has both boys and girls, or a Troop that has a girl Patrol, or if they may give an option for girls and boys to be in the same Patrol.
Seems reasonable to expect that the options would also be offered to keep troops single-gender, as they have done with Cub Packs.

But for the sake of argument, let’s assume that when BSA announces the program for older girls, that there is an option for limited gender mixing within SOME activities.

Let’s give our young people some credit. Kids grow up with mixed gender activities like school, teams, clubs, church groups, etc. Don’t forget that BSA has had girls in Venture crews, Sea Scout Ships and Explorer Posts for MANY years. It is my experience that people live up to expectations… or down to them. If we communicate high expectations for respecting their peers, hold them to those expectations and model appropriate behaviors, all of which we should be doing anyway, then most young people will rise to the challenge. There may be a few that can’t handle it. Not everyone is cut out to live according to Scouting’s values. This was true before any mention of girls in BSA.

A teacher who is an Eagle Scout and former Philmont Ranger runs an outdoor program for middle school and high school kids. He treats them all the same except for bathroom and tent assignments, and it works beautifully. I honestly had concerns when I went on a backpacking trip with them last Spring. However, in practice, gender was a complete non-issue. As long as the standard is that everyone respects everyone else, it really doesn’t matter what parts each person has.

It seems selfish to deny all girls from the character development the BSA program offers just to keep from having to hold our young men to standards of behavior consistent with Scouting’s values.

“Why? Don’t they have their own organization?”

Or “But they have Girl Scouts”… Strange as it appears to some folks, BSA doesn’t control what the Girl Scouts program offers. My understanding is that the Girl Scouts (GS) organization has intentionally made their program different that BSA in order to serve a different set of interests. To the extent that girls prefer the GS program I fully support them pursuing the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and being the best Girl Scouts they can be. One of my daughters has been in the GS program for years and will turn 14 soon. She is happy and learning things she thinks are cool. So, I am happy. My other daughter is 12, has faded in and out of the GS program because it just doesn’t interest her that much. She earned a Black Belt in TaeKwondo, likes to shoot and hunt with me, can out backpack just about everyone I know, and is excited at the chance to do the more adventurous activities in the BSA program. The GS program bores her to no end. If I’m taking my son to Boy Scout meetings and outings, why not be able to take my daughter along?

I’ve read suggestions that parents wanting a BSA type program for girls can either change GS or make a new organization. Let’s look at the big picture. It would be a truly MASSIVE effort of basically duplicate the BSA program for girls. I don’t think most people have a clue the size, complexity or assets held by BSA. It is multi-Billion dollar corporation with huge physical assets in every state. It is a truly expansive national program with units in nearly every town in America. Duplicating BSA for girls would be a multi-generation project and would take insane amount of effort and resources.  Most parents aren’t thinking ahead to what their great grand daughters might like to do, they are worried about now… what can they find for their kids to do NOW that will help them learn valuable things, develop good character traits and have fun along the way.

“Boy need to learn from Men how to be Men”

… hello, ladies…

I’m a dude. I’ll go so far as to say that I’m a rather manly dude. Wrestling, rugby, hockey, football, military service, fixing cars/trucks/aircraft/house stuff, shooting full auto machine guns, riding motorcycles, teaching martial arts, fathering 3 children, etc. Seriously, I have a solid platinum Man Card… And I have no idea what secret man things boys can only learn from men… unless they mean things like:

  • teaching boys how to objectify women
  • teaching boys how to “score” with the ladies
  • teaching boys how to be sexual predators

… because those are the things that I see most often when men get together with no women around. I doubt most men think those are the things they are teaching their youngsters. But if we are being honest, aren’t those the real outcomes of the “Locker room talk” environment.
Or are the “they can only learn to be men from men” folks talking about the tough guy, John Wayne type behaviors? The macho Hollywood stuff that gets people killed, according to what they taught us at USAF Survival School. Or possibly the scandalous sorts of behavior made famous by President Clinton, Anthony Wiener and others in the fraternity of infidelity.
I’m dying to hear why anyone thinks BSA should place any sort of priority on preserving that cultural wasteland?
Maybe I’m off base and boys need to learn from men how to do things like

  • suppress feelings
  • play contact sports
  • or the finer points of grunting while lifting weights

Tourniquet or Infusion?

I read recently that the BSA is bleeding out right in front of us. BSA membership numbers are about half of what they were in the 1970s. My understanding is that the decline has accelerated over time. BSA isn’t on life support just yet, but something needed to change in order to stop the bleeding. The infusion of eager, new members is exactly the kind of change that can shake up this 100 year old dinosaur of a “good ole boy’s club” and breathe new life into a great program. The past few decades more and more parents have asked that their girls be allowed to benefit from the BSA program. Why deny eager new members just because they pee sitting down?

Life skills that benefit everyone

A friend shared this image with Gear Report on FaceBook.

*Editor’s note: Oct 17th. A reader clued me in to the meaning of the meme… that the girl got knocked up on a camping trip. While I decide if I even want to dignify this with a remark, I’ll leave my original thoughts on this below.

Apparently, the creator though it would be funny and mock the girl’s interest in BSA. It backfired as it helps show how deeply sexists some who oppose girls in BSA are. The two assumptions in this image are that:

  • girls don’t like camping
  • scouts can’t be mothers

Both are ridiculous and disappointing, with a side of immature thrown in for giggles. Let’s explore both of these assumptions.

Girls don’t like camping

The implicit suggestion that girls don’t like camping is silly. I know females who don’t enjoy camping. This may be the only truth behind the image. However, I know almost as many males that don’t like to camp. I see no relevance in whether someone who likes camping has boy or girl parts. Sure, girls are often encouraged to pursue less rugged interests and through lack of exposure, some never develop a love of camping or the outdoors. This is a product of our culture that does not hold true for everyone.

For example, I saw more females than males on Conservation Crews at Philmont Scout Ranch this summer. Conservation crews carry their packs with all of their gear just like everyone else in the backcountry. They also carry a variety of big, heavy tools like shovels, picks, axes, wheel barrows, and building materials. A Conservation Crew member may reasonably be expected to backpack with twice the weight that I carried on my last Philmont trek. Not only were these young ladies voluntarily carrying all of their gear tools in the rugged Philmont backcountry, they also completed construction projects in the field. In case I wasn’t clear… they were badasses. So, tell me again how girls are too frail and dainty to handle the rough and tumble world of BSA. Boy or girl, I’m happy when ANY of our young people pull themselves away from their cell phones to learn about the woods and find enjoyment there.

Scouts can’t be mothers

Really? The BSA program instills tremendous skills and values that would benefit any future mother. As a society, we benefit greatly if those who nurture our youngest and most impressionable are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. In fact, I wish ALL future mothers pursued the character traits taught by BSA.

While I understand the image was created in an attempt to mock the idea of girls in Boy Scouts, it instead helps to sell the inclusion of girls in the BSA program. Every young mother can benefit from general traits learned by scouts as well as scout skills like first aid, cooking. My mother was like a combat medic, frequently patching up one of us kids after we found new and creative ways to hurt ourselves. Some of what she learned was from helping her mother, a Den Leader for my uncle Mike’s Cub Scout pack, prepare for and teach the Cub Scouts.

*A note to the girl who’s picture was stolen for use in the image above.
It is sad that someone used your image as the butt of their attempted joke. From the green uniform it looks like you are in a BSA Venture Crew where you are working to learn and grow to be a better person. I am proud of you and embarrassed that someone felt so threatened that they sought to embarrass you. But it backfired! Keep up the good work.

Will we let this work?

I think the biggest threat to the success of expanding opportunities for girls in BSA comes from within. Will Scouters and Scout parents implement the new program, ignore it, or actively sabotage if from within? It is too soon to say, although I have a lot of faith in the Scouters that I know to do what is right and give girls a chance to benefit from BSA programs. Even with support, this could turn out awesome or a train wreck. To me, it is a big mental change, but very little actual change at all. I see no reason why it could not be successful and make the BSA program even more valuable to America.

Welcome Ladies

I am proud of BSA for challenging the status quo and having the true courage to do what is right. To all of the girls that might like to try the BSA program, I welcome you. Please be patient with some of the crotchety old folks in the BSA organization that are struggling to accept that your private parts have no bearing on your ability to learn from the BSA program and make the world a better place. Please send me a note when you earn your Eagle Scout rank. I would like to personally congratulate you.

Jeff
Gear Report Editor & Chief Gear Head

Go ahead, fill up the comments with your thoughts on Girls joining Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. I’m a man, I can take it…

Press release from BSA

The BSA Expands Programs to Welcome Girls from Cub Scouts to Highest Rank of Eagle Scout
October 11, 2017
Research reinforces interest expressed by families and girls nationwide as organization looks to offer programs that meet the needs of today’s families

Irving, Texas – October 11, 2017 – Today, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization evaluated the results of numerous research efforts, gaining input from current members and leaders, as well as parents and girls who’ve never been involved in Scouting – to understand how to offer families an important additional choice in meeting the character development needs of all their children.

“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”

Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before [1], making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing. Additionally, many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family. Recent surveys [2] of parents not involved with Scouting showed high interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts. Education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed relevancy of the program for young women.

“The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing” said Randall Stephenson, BSA’s national board chairman. “I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”

Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families.

This decision expands the programs that the Boy Scouts of America offers for both boys and girls. Although known for its iconic programs for boys, the BSA has offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring and the Venturing program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. The STEM Scout pilot program is also available for both boys and girls.

For more information about the expanded opportunities for family Scouting, please visit the family Scouting page.

About the Boy Scouts of America

The Boy Scouts of America provides the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be “Prepared. For Life.®” The Scouting organization is composed of nearly 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and approximately 960,000 volunteers in local councils throughout the United States and its territories. For more information on the Boy Scouts of America, please visit www.scouting.org.

[1] PEW Research Center survey conducted Sept. 15 – Oct. 13, 2015 among 1,807 U.S. parents with children younger than 18.

[2] BSA surveys included two external surveys and four internal surveys conducted from April to September 2017. Surveys were conducted online.

 

 

About Jeff

Jeff is the Editor in Chief of Gear Report and a National Shooting Sports Foundation Media member. He reports on the outdoor industry, reviews gear for camping, hiking, shooting, hunting, paddling, backpacking and other active pursuits.

A USAF veteran, Jeff earned a MBA in Marketing and Health Services. He specializes in consultative selling and internet marketing. As the VP of BD & Marketing, Jeff provides sales and marketing leadership to MGECOM, Inc. and helps http://MGECOM.com acquire new clients in need of solutions for online merchants in need of Affiliate Marketing program management.

Jeff founded and manages Cress Sales & Marketing LLC, offering online sales and marketing consulting and services to online merchants and service providers.