October 24, 2017
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In historic change, Boy Scouts allow girls to join ranks

By David Crary, The Associated Press
Jake May | The Flint Journal | AP | BDN
Jake May | The Flint Journal | AP | BDN
Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts salute during a Memorial Day ceremony in Linden, Michigan, May 29, 2017. The Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved on Wednesday to welcome girls into its 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.

NEW YORK — Embracing a historic change, the Boy Scouts of America announced Wednesday plans to admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and to establish a new program for older girls using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts.

Under the plan, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to remain single gender or welcome both genders. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

The Boy Scouts board of directors, which approved the plan unanimously in a meeting at the organization’s headquarters in Texas, said the change was needed to provide more options for parents.

“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 Michael Surbaugh, the Boy Scouts of America’s chief scout executive.

“The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Surbaugh added.

The announcement follows many months of outreach by the Boy Scouts of America, which distributed videos and held meetings with the Boy Scout community to discuss the possibility of expanding girls’ participation beyond existing programs, such as Venturing and Sea Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of the USA criticized the initiative, saying it strained the century-old bond between the two organizations. Girl Scout officials have suggested the Boy Scouts of America’s move was driven partly by financial problems and a need to boost revenue.

In August, the president of the Girl Scouts accused the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts’ operations.

“I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts … and not consider expanding to recruit girls,” Girl Scouts President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote in a letter to the Boy Scouts of America’s president, AT&T Chairman Randall Stephenson.

The Girl Scouts, founded in 1912, and the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, are among several major youth organizations in the U.S. experiencing sharp drops in membership in recent years. Reasons include competition from youth sports leagues, a perception by some families that they are old-fashioned and busy schedules that prompt some parents to despair of meeting all their children’s obligations. For some families, scouting programs that welcome both boys and girls could be a welcome convenience.

As of March, Girl Scouts of the USA reported 1,566,671 youth members and 749,008 adult members, down from just over 2 million youth members and about 800,000 adult members in 2014. The Boy Scouts say current youth participation is about 2.35 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and more than 4 million in peak years of the past.


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