Boy Scouts of America now welcomes girls into their ranks

Boy scouts work on a project.

Boy Scouts of America now welcomes girls into their ranks

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Boy Scouts of America now welcomes girls into their ranks

Roughly 30 years ago I went on camping trips with my brother’s Boy Scout pack. He also went on my Girl Scout troop events.

On Wednesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced in a press release the “Board of Directors unanimously approved to welcome girls into its iconic Cub Scout program.”

Boy Scouts of America work on canoeing badges.

Boy scouts working on canoeing badges. Credit: Getty Images

The historic move also allows girls to advance and earn the elite rank of Eagle Scout. They said the decision came after years of families and girls requesting entrance.

“Many groups currently underserved by Scouting, including the Hispanic and Asian communities, prefer to participate in activities as a family,” the statement read.

As a mother of current Cub Scouts, and a Girl Scout alumna, I’m excited girls now can explore scouting in a new way.

Character and leadership development

Boy Scouts of America salute the U.S. flag.

Boy Scouts salute the raising of the flag. Credit: Getty Images

“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law,” Michael B. Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief scout executive, said. He outlined some values Boy Scouts hold dear:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Loyalty
  • Helpfulness
  • Kindness
  • Bravery
  • Reverence

All qualities that are “important for both young men and women,” Surbaugh said. Girl Scouts have a similar law and promise aimed at that very thing:

“I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong and responsible for what I say and do. To respect others, respect authority, use resources wisely and make the world a better place.”

Why can’t kids do both?

Single-gender dens

International Boy and Girl scouts meet.

International Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts meeting camp. Credit: Getty Images

Now, before any feathers are ruffled, there will not be girls at the boys’ overnighters.

The new packs will be single-gender. The change simply allows girls to have their own dens and use the same curriculum.

BSA will offer a program for older girls in 2018, which goes into effect in 2019, allowing girls to make Eagle Scout.

“This unique approach allows the organization to maintain the integrity of the single-gender model while also meeting the needs of today’s families,” Surbaugh said.

This isn’t new territory for BSA. They have offered co-ed Exploring and Venturing programs since 1971.

Of course, not everyone likes the idea

California Girl Scouts receive Gold Award.

California Girl Scout Gold Award recipients. Credit: Getty Images

The new move was not embraced by Girl Scouts USA president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan.

The USA TODAY Network obtained a portion of her letter, which she wrote to BSA president Randall Stephenson.

“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.”

Watch: Boy Scouts of America welcomes girls into dens.

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