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Joining the rest of the world
Author: TriSec    Date: 05/05/2018 09:50:17

Good Morning.

You may have missed it, but the Boy Scouts of America ceased to exist this week.


Oh, we're still here. There was some pushback by the usual internet whinebags this week, but here it is.


Boy Scouts of America has announced it will change the name of its programme for older children as the group prepares to welcome girls.

The Boy Scouts will become known as Scouts BSA in 2019, when the first girls will be admitted to the programme.

The name of the parent organisation, as well as the programme for younger children, Cub Scouts, will not change.

The group's board of directors unanimously voted to open the century-old club to all children in October.

That move was criticised by the Girls Scouts of America, and triggered a fierce backlash online.

"As we enter a new era for our organisation, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible," said Michael Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

He said he wanted to make the scouts more "inclusive".

The group has also launched a campaign to encourage both girls and boys to join.

The Cub Scouts, for ages five to 10, will open its local clubs to all children this year. Boy Scouts, for ages 11 to 17, will follow its footsteps next year, when the name change will become official.

This shift will also give both girls and boys a chance to achieve the high rank of Eagle Scout.

Each chapter will be able to determine if they want to remain exclusive to boys, create all-female groups or establish new mixed-sex "packs".

The Girl Scouts of America, a similar organisation that admits young girls, was deeply critical of the move when it was first announced, telling ABC News the Boy Scouts had not addressed issues of sexual assault and financial mismanagement.

On Wednesday, Sylvia Acevedo, chief executive of the Girl Scouts of America, called her organisation "the premier leadership development organisation for girls" in a statement, but did not make further comment on the Boy Scout shift.

The BSA reports having about 2.3m members in the US, down about a third since 2000, while the Girls Scouts have about 1.8m.


Personally, I could go on about how significant this is for both our organization and the future of America's youth...but being a youth-run organization, I'll let the family of one of our newest members do the talking here. But what's really interesting is the fact that this story comes from South Carolina...and the parent here is a self-identified 'conservative'.


My brother was a Boy Scout and I was so jealous that he got to do all the cool stuff, like race wooden cars in the Pinewood Derby and learn knife skills. Meanwhile, I was stuck singing songs in a "kumbaya" circle and selling cookies as a Girl Scout. I wanted to do what the boys were doing and learn more than songs. As a mother of two girls, I want more for them than what the Girl Scouts offer.

Yet, when the Boy Scouts of America announced they were allowing girls back in the fall, I did not search out how my daughters could join. I was a bit shocked, thinking they were giving into political pressure. So when I had the opportunity to talk to a Den Leader at the pack closest to me, I was interested to hear that the BSA decision was more about encouraging families to be together than it was about politics.

The pack my oldest daughter, who is seven years old and is currently a Tiger, joined is one of the early adopters of the program. The pack is composed of dens of boys and dens of girls. Sometimes we do adventures and games together for the same age groups and but most of the time, we have kept to our own female-led den. There are no co-ed dens. Boys and girls learn differently and the BSA recognizes those differences.

We do participate in bigger events together as a pack, which includes boys and girls, but parents and leaders are always present. I have watched my daughter’s confidence bloom in the the short amount of time she has been a Cub Scout. She has been able to do everything the boys do — from learning how to shoot a bow and arrow to starting a fire to racing her own derby car and shooting a BB gun.

I’ve watched her make friends with the older girls in the pack, who have welcomed her and encouraged her. My youngest daughter, who is just three-and-half, has also been welcomed into the pack as a family member of a Cub Scout. She often gets to do some the same activities as her older sister as long as they are safe for her age. She is quickly gaining confidence as well.

As a parent, I have loved getting to know the other parents during campouts and council events and den meetings. We all have similar interests and it is has been a joy to learn from each other.

At a recent Council Camporee — a weekend full of scouting activities in the mountains — our pack was the only one with girls. I was nervous that we would face hostility from the other packs in our region. Weren’t we intruding on their terrority?

Quite the contrary. Everyone from the leaders to the parents to the cafeteria workers were so welcoming. They wanted to take photos of our girls, to say they had met some of the first female Cub Scouts in BSA history. It was humbling and exciting.

As a conservative who believes that genders do matter, that God created males and females for specific, yet complementary reasons, I am grateful to the Boy Scouts of America for allowing girls into their storied organization. I want my daughter to have every opportunity that boys have in this nation, to be empowered as a woman and know that she is capable of doing what boys do — but in her own, female way. Femininity, or masculinity, need not be lost because the BSA allows girls and changed their name.

My daughter recently received a number of patches and awards for her work in the Cub Scouts. Her smile radiated confidence when she walked up in front of her pack to receive those accolades.

Her blue Cub Scout uniform shirt reads “Boy Scouts of America." That name will be altered soon but the ingrained character, independence, and honor of the Boy Scouts will not be changed. It will only look different, with strong women of character emerging from the program, right along with the boys.


My own Pack here in Waltham was not an early adopter - we've actually got bigger problems with leadership and attendance that we need to worry about. But we've already had an executive committee meeting about the program changes, and it lasted about 15 seconds. The consensus was split between "We're Ready", and "It's about time."


 

2 comments (Latest Comment: 05/06/2018 13:12:26 by velveeta jones)
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