Is the Boy Scout’s New Policy a Good Idea?
Before you get your panties in a twist, let me explain why I can give a knowledgeable opinion on this topic.
I have been a registered Girl Scout for 21 years and will be a Girl Scout until the day I die. It's true. I registered as a Daisy when I was 5 years old and when I graduated high school I registered as a lifetime member of the Girl Scouts.
I have served in leadership positions as both a girl and adult member, serving as a girl/adult delegate on a council level, a girl member to the board, an assistant troop leader, a delegate convener, and a girl/adult delegate on a national level.
My vests/sashes throughout each level of Girl Scouts are full of badges I earned as well as awards like the Bronze Award, Career Award, Leadership Award (multiple), and Gold Award (the highest award in Girl Scouts).
I traveled around the globe as a Girl Scout, 38 states, 4 Canadian Provinces, and 2 Australian territories. I have camped in 4 degree weather, climbed the Sydney Bay Bridge, and snorkeled with manatees.
Now onto my Boy Scout experience...
I have been a registered Boy Scout since 2009.
My first job was an ecology counselor at Joseph A. Citta Scout Reservation in Waretown. I was in a Venturing crew, which is a co-ed Boy Scout program for 14-21 year old kids. I am a merit badge counselor for many badges. I am an assistant Cubmaster and Scoutmaster.
Now that we have gone through my credentials, let's get into the opinion part.
Boy Scouts of America made headlines yesterday when they officially announced they would now be accepting girls at a younger age. This means a girl can be in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
This wasn't a shocking headline, they have been talking about this for months now. Of course, Girl Scouts weren't very happy about this development.
Lisa Margosian, Chief Customer Officer for Girl Scouts told BuzzFeed,
We learned about this through different channels but never directly from BSA leadership. We’ve had competitors come and go and this is yet another competitor. We’re disappointed in the way BSA handled this...We’ve enjoyed a strong relationship and partnership with them over the years and we’re disappointed that the BSA didn’t discuss this with us to say ‘we’re having trouble with our membership.’ This is a direct response to boost their declining membership.
Every person that is involved in one or both organizations that I spoke to in the past few months have said the same thing. Boy Scouts were doing this to gain more numbers since their membership had been declining.
Girl Scouts reacted to BSA's new policy, "The Boy Scouts' house is on fire. 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."
In a press release on BSA's website, BSA’s national board chairman, Randall Stephenson stated, "The BSA’s record of producing leaders with high character and integrity is amazing. 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."
Did he forget Girl Scouts exist and have been developing strong empowered woman?
In what seems to be a direct response to the new development Girl Scouts posted this on their Facebook page:
The Girl Scouts have also developed an acronym that goes with their program: G.I.R.L. G: go-getter, I: innovator, R: risk-taker, L: leader.
I grew up with two younger brothers, I can safely say they would not have been happy if I was in their troop with them. At the same time, I would not want them to be in my troop either.
Boy Scouts have said this was to make it easier on families so that they only have to bring their kids to one meeting rather than multiple. What a disservice that is to girls. I see that and I immediately think, are the girls not worth having their own program? You can't even be bothered to bring your daughter to a program that is catered to her.
Plus, let's do a little scenario for you.
You have 3 kids, all different ages. In the Cub program most packs on a whole meet once a month. So, that's one meeting a month your kids meet together. Packs are broken up into dens by age level. Most dens meet once a week. On top of that one meeting a month, you have three den meetings a week to bring the three kids to. Girl Scouts on the other hand usually have a meeting every other week. They are not broken up into multi-age groups. Some troops do have multiple ages, but they all meet together. Some troops only meet once a month. By that math you are actually making it harder on yourself.
Like I said previously, I worked at a Boy Scout camp.
There were both male and female counselors. Do you think there wasn't any sort of fraternizing going on between counselors?
Now you are going to mix middle school and high school aged girls and boys who are going through puberty on camping trips together. That sounds like a wonderful idea...I can't think of any way that could go bad... Speaking on the puberty topic. It is awkward enough to go through these changes for girls and guys alike. When they are at an immature age, can you imagine the types of ridicule the girls will get as they mature physically by the boys?
As I read through comments on Facebook last night and was sad to see that many of them dissed the Girl Scout program. Many explained the Girl Scout program as all about baking, sewing, cookies, and crafts. While the BSA program was about leadership, camping, and high adventure.
This could not be further from the truth. Boy Scouts have art, textile, theater, pottery, and cooking merit badges. Just like Girl Scouts have archery, survival camper, entrepreneur, and public policy badges.
As a woman who has been through the Girl Scout program and immersed in the Boy Scout program, the Girl Scout program is well ahead of BSA's.
I have read comments online stating that around the world scouting is already co-ed. Yes and no. They are all under one umbrella, but operate separately as Girl Guides and Boy Scouts.
In conclusion, I think this is a disservice to young girls and young women and I hope parents realize this and enroll their daughters in Girl Scouts rather than Boy Scouts.
What do you think?