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… And Girls

Boys Scouts going co-ed in 2018

Boy Scouts — it’s not just for boys anymore.

On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved welcoming girls into the Cub Scout program and developing programming for girls through the organization’s highest rank — Eagle Scout.

“Starting in 2018, families can choose Cub Scouts for their sons and daughters,” according to a BSA release.

“A program for older girls will be announced in 2018 with projected implementation in 2019 to deliver the Boy Scout program to girls, allowing for participating girls to earn the highest rank of Eagle.”

Existing Cub Scout packs will be allowed to choose to accept girls or to remain all boys. New packs may be all-boy, all-girl, or made up of boys and girls. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender.

“There is research that indicates boys and girls together at the Cub Scout age in a nurturing environment have more benefits than single-gender,” according to BSA. “At the same time, there is research that shows strong single-gender benefits. We know parents have diverse perspectives on the topic, so we want to provide options with what best meets their needs.”

The change has been in the works for years.

“The Chief Cornplanter Council leadership is not surprised by the decision of the National Council to add programming for girls,” Scout Executive Ray Tennent said. “For many years, entire families of a Cub Scout have been encouraged to attend pack meetings and pack activities.”

BSA has offered co-ed programming — including Exploring and the Venturing program — since 1971.

“Some parents finally asked the question, ‘Why can’t my daughter earn the same recognitions as my son if they attend and complete the same requirements?'” he said. “In our busy society where youth are in numerous extra-curricular activities, many parents desire one program for all their youth.”

The decision was surprising to some and is not universally popular.

“There are always people who cling to tradition and our history, and we understand that,” Council President Mike Barrett said. “Initially not 100 percent will embrace the change. Moving to a new program to include the entire family, particularly girl programs, resulted from research and single parent needs. We hope anyone surprised by this decision will consider what is best for the diverse families that make up our culture now.”

The organization is not trying to attack other groups that already offer programming for girls.

“This decision is about our families in scouting and those who may join in the future,” Tennent said. “We support a family’s decision to enroll their child in any character building program that they believe serves their family in the best way. Our leadership respects and continues to strive to work in a collaborative way with organizations like the YMCA, YWCA, 4-H, Girl Scouts, and any other groups that provide positive character education and developmental life-skills programs.”

“Our new programs are an option, not a requirement, for our chartered partners such as churches,” Tennent said. “Today, our society needs all organizations to give parents a choice of what works best for their family.”

“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said. “The values of Scouting… are important to both young men and 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.”

The change is not an attempt to bring up membership, according to BSA. “The BSA has experienced renewed interest in Scouting, and we believe that is largely in response to program innovation and a more thorough understanding of what families want and need when it comes to extra-curricular activities.”

“Chief Cornplanter Council is waiting for more information from the National Council on program implementation specifics and will develop a plan for the Council territory in the next few months,” Tennent said.

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