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Area groups react to Boy Scout decision

13 October 2017, 03:58 | Melissa Porter

Area groups react to Boy Scout decision

Area groups react to Boy Scout decision

"We really have no idea" how many girls will join, he said.

The Boy Scouts of America announced plans on Wednesday to broadly accept girls, marking a historic shift for the century-old organization and setting off a debate about where girls better learn how to be leaders.

While Cub Scouts will feature gender specific dens, it's unclear how Boy Scout groups will integrate female troop members moving forward.

A successful camping event requires all participants to pitch in, and Lindrose said he would expect the same if girls are included.

"I thought it was a natural progression", said Stephen Gentles, whose eight-year-old son is a new member of a Cub Scout troop in East Lyme.

These changes aren't necessarily new for the Boy scouts as they already offer a co-ed program for those aged 14-21 known as Venturing. The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the same Eagle Scout rank that has been attained by astronauts, admirals, senators and other luminaries. The national organization, in a statement, said only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success.

"It's like asking boys to join the Girl Scouts", McFarland said. Now known as the Venture Scouting program, it was formerly the Explorer Scouts when girls were first included in 1969.

He added that he hopes the organization will remove the word "Boy" from its name, and simply be called "Scouts of America".

Although Hulet believes the announcement may cause some contention between the two groups, she said the impact wouldn't be significant because BSA programs have remained heavily focused on outdoor activities while GSUSA programs have not.

In recent years, Boy Scouts of America has seen declining enrollment. She questioned whether that was an issue of concern to boys in the Boy Scouts.

"Competition is nothing new for the Girl Scouts", said Kim Fraites-Dow, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. Of parents surveyed, 90 percent responded positively when asked if they'd be interested in a program like Cub Scouts for their daughters, and 87 expressed interest in a program similar to Boy Scouts for ages 11 to 18, he said. "We are not trying to replace them", Smith said. It should be giving the girls' achievement - which requires working hard to build the same skills we celebrate so publicly in Eagle Scouts - the respect it deserves.

It continued, "The benefit of the single-gender environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, other girl- and youth-serving organizations, and Girl Scouts and their families".

"The young women who are part of the troop do all the hikes, they are deserving of the chance to earn the same rank advancements and deserving of a chance to stand in front of everyone and receive the Eagle", Stone said.

Eagle Scouts are considered a badge of honor that is recognized beyond the organization: it can help participants get into colleges and open up the door to certain scholarships.

"We believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides", the GSUSA said, describing itself as "the best girl leadership organization in the world".

"Personally, I think it's a great thing", said Lind-rose, who leads Troop 2025, sponsored by Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Though the Gold Award may not be as widely recognizable, it carries weight within the Girl Scouts and among employers who know about it, Else said. Or do "boys need time to be boys and girls need time to be girls"?

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