BSA to welcome girls into Scouting programs — here’s what that means for your pack or troop

The Boy Scouts of America’s volunteer-led board of directors on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to welcome girls and young women into all Scouting programs.

The historic move means boys and girls will soon experience the values-based, life-changing, Instagram-worthy moments offered in all of Scouting’s programs — from Cub Scouting all the way to Scouting’s highest honor, the rank of Eagle Scout.

Cub Scouting will be available to girls beginning in 2018. A program for girls ages 11 to 17 will be announced in the coming year for projected introduction in 2019 and will enable young women to work toward Eagle.

What drives this change? As a Scout leader, you know that the values of Scouting — encapsulated in the Scout Oath and Scout Law — are more relevant today than ever. Those values are vital for young men and young women.

“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” said Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh. “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.”

Interest extremely high

I’m sure you’ve seen sisters tag along at pack and troop meetings and events. You’ve watched them experience the fun of Scouting without earning any of the awards and recognition afforded their brothers.

And I bet you’ve heard from the busy moms and dads in your pack or troop who crave more time to interact with their kids. A Scouting program for the whole family will help them maximize that time. They’ll get one great Scouting experience in one place.

What kind of interest is out there? The survey results are overwhelming and echo the flood of requests the BSA has received from families wanting a BSA program for girls.

At a glance:

  • 90 percent of parents not involved with the BSA expressed interest in getting their daughter involved in programs like Cub Scouts.
  • 87 percent of parents not involved with the BSA expressed interest in getting their daughter involved in programs like Boy Scouts.

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and the volunteer who leads the BSA’s national board, said the BSA’s “record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing.”

“I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization,” he said. “It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.”

How this will affect your pack

When girls join Cub Scouting in 2018, beginning at age 5, packs across the country may welcome them right away.

An existing pack may choose to recruit girls or remain an all-boy pack. When creating a new pack, a chartered organization may form an all-boy pack, an all-girl pack or a pack of girls and boys.

Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs, meanwhile, can include any combination of all-boy or all-girl dens. The choice is left to individual pack leaders in consultation with their chartered organization.

This hybrid model builds on the benefit of a single-gender program while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls.

Some big things won’t change. Activities, rank advancement requirements and Youth Protection policies remain the same. Uniforms will remain the same, too, though the fit and styling may change.

Existing program content and activities are appropriate for boys and girls alike, so there’s no need to change anything there. Education experts have evaluated program content and confirmed the relevancy of the program for young women.

As always, great volunteers like you can tailor the activities to meet the developmental needs and abilities of your kids.

What about Youth Protection? The policies match existing rules in place for the Venturing program for young men and young women. When a Scouting activity includes both boys and girls, there must be both female and male leaders present. At least one of those leaders must be registered as an adult member of the BSA.

How this will affect your troop

 A program for girls age 11 to 17 will be announced in the coming year with a projected introduction in 2019.

Using the same curriculum as the current Boy Scouts program, this will allow participating girls to work toward — and earn — Scouting’s highest honor, the Eagle Scout Award. Eagle Scout requirements will be the same for young men and young women.

Girls who are in the fourth grade in 2018 will surely want to cross over into the next phase of their Scouting journey once they complete their time in Cub Scouts. Rest assured there will be such a program in place when the time arrives. And it will be awesome.

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About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.