Boy Scouts make controversial decision to admit girls

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Teeming with patches, camping equipment, and "Proud Cub Scout Mom" apparel, the East Hartford Scout Shop tucked near I-84 has been a mainstay of the local Boy Scout community for decades.

One member of the Girl Scouts national board called the move "a awful idea" and said the boys' organization was suffering from financial problems and dropping membership attributed to sexual abuse scandals and gender identity and deficient programming.

"We've always had female leaders and staff, and I think those are some of the best leaders", said Jeff Allman, the board president of Gamehaven Council, which represents about 2,700 boys in Southeast Minnesota. Aside from the political issues, the Girl Scouts have also been rightly dinged as an administratively awful cookie manufacturer with a sideline in youth development. Sherman said this news is exciting, giving the "stagnating" Boys Scouts of America a shot of needed diversity and inclusiveness. Jones feels the decision will allow girls to move through rankings they've never had and gain new experiences. She wants to see girls receive the same opportunity.

The addition of girls to the ranks of the Boy Scouts will allow teen girls to obtain the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout beginning in 2019 while younger girls will be able to start in the iconic Cub Scout program.

This story was written for our sponsor, Girl Scouts - North Carolina Coastal Pines.

Other countries have shared-gender scouting organizations labeled under a gender-neutral name, such as Scouts Canada and Scouts Australia. "It's all girls, it's girl-led, it's an environment where girls learn and they thrive, and we know it works". As BSA's Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh stated, "The values of Scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, courageous and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women". The Boy Scouts organization says current youth participation is about 2.35 million, down from 2.6 million in 2013 and off more than 4 million from peak years. Indeed, I've spent the last 15 years explaining my Girl Scout Gold Award to friends, colleagues and prospective employers as the "Girl Scout version" of the Eagle Scout rank.

This was their Girl Scout Bronze Award project. "Girls Scouts does an excellent job getting girls ready for the real-life experiences".

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Initial reports on the Boy Scouts' policy indicate that small groups for young members will continue to be single gender, so girls will still have access to leadership opportunities in a single-gender environment. Boy Scout troops will not include girls. "But if there is something lacking in the Girl Scout program, they need to work on enhancing that".

"Utilizing the resources that we have already, we have the capacity to serve more kids and to bring programming, leadership development skills". "Instead of addressing systemic issues of continuing sexual assault, financial mismanagement and deficient programming, BSA's senior management wants to add an accelerant to the house fire by recruiting girls".

When Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouting in 1912 - eight full years before suffrage - she wanted to create a global movement that would make the world better for girls.

Among those displeased with the announcement was 99-year-old Boy Scout volunteer Russ Gremel. And the Girl Scouts aren't stopping there.

"They treated it like it was their own bank account rather than the bank account of the cub scouts that had raised they money", Dugan said.

But some confusion has arisen because the announcement is so fresh, some Cub and Boy Scout leaders at Thursday's meeting said.

The organization has criticized the Boy Scouts' initiative, saying it is driven more by a need to boost revenue than a fundamental change in position on the need for single-gender Scouting. "We really have no idea" how many girls will join, he said.

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