The Boy Scouts will break over 100 years of tradition when they begin admitting girls next year, the organization announced today. The board of directors for the organization approved the move, which will allow young girls to join the Cub Scouts program.
This is actually not the first time girls have been able to participate in Boy Scout activities. Pilot programs allowing girls and boys to participate in some shared activities have been in pace for nearly twenty years. However, girls were not allowed formal membership into the Boy Scouts. Until now.
Supporters of the move insist they are not advancing a feminist or political agenda. They say the Boy Scouts offer more opportunities and activities, and girls had long complained that the Girl Scouts only offered arts and crafts and cookie sales.
The integration will not be full or immediate. Young girls will be able to join the Cub Scouts program beginning next year, while older girls can join programs that will integrate them into the Eagle Scout program beginning in 2019.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” the organization’s chief Scout executive, Michael Surbaugh, said in a statement. “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.”
“This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families,” the announcement continues. “This decision expands the programs that the Boy Scouts of America offers for both boys and girls.”
The move follows “years” of receiving requests from families and girls, the organization with nearly 2.3 million members between the ages of 7 and 21 announced Thursday.
According to the plan, existing Cub Scout packs may establish a new pack for girls, create a pack consisting of smaller girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy unit. Cub Scout dens, meanwhile, will be single-gender, consisting of either all girls or all boys. While primarily known for its programs for boys, the Boy Scouts of America has offered opportunities to co-eds since 1971, including its Venturing program that will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.
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 , 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  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.