As of February 1, the Boy Scouts has rebranded itself as “Scouts BSA,” reflecting the fact that the organization is no longer exclusively male and that girls are now welcome to join. Since last year, more than 77,000 girls have joined the Cub Scouts, BSA’s program for children from kindergarten through fifth grade, or five to 10 years of age.
Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America Michael B. Surbaugh said in a February 1 statement: “I could not be more excited for what this means for the next generation of leaders in our nation.”
“Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before — young women and men — will get to experience the benefits of camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness through a time-tested program that has been proven to build character and leadership.”
Many parents interviewed by the media said the change will give their daughters the opportunity to take part in outdoor scouting activities. Elizabeth Neal, the mother of two girls who are among the founding members of Troop 248, a newly formed all-girls Scouts BSA troop in the District of Columbia, told the Washington Times: “[My daughters] did Girl Scouts when they were small. But they’re excited about camping and outdoor skills. That’s what drew them to Boy Scouts, and they’re excited about the potential to be an eagle scout.”
Neal’s statement does not square with this writer’s personal experience. My daughter went to a Girl Scout camp when she little, where she took part in long hikes in the woods and other outdoor activities that were similar to what I did in the Boy Scouts. So what is the advantage of having girls join the Boy Scouts? Why not allow girls to continue to take part in these outdoor activities in the Girl Scouts?
The Times also quoted Craig Burkhardt, Troop 248’s scoutmaster, who said: “The Boy Scouts, BSA, has used the outdoors as the classroom in an effective way, and these girls are interested in being in the outdoors.”
Haven’t the Girl Scouts always done the same thing? The new all-girls Scouts BSA troops do not provide any unique opportunities that could not be provided in Girl Scout troops, so why admit girls into the Boy Scouts, except to engage in a politically correct social experiment?
The change did not go unnoticed by Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA), which issued a statement cited by CNN that, while not naming BSA, said that 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.”
Of course, the Girl Scouts have been criticized for failings of its own. (Read: "Catholic Archdiocese Nixes Girl Scouts and Says No to Cookie Sales.") The Catholic archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas, banned parishes in the diocese from chartering Girl Scout troops. The archbishop cited their national organization’s contribution of more than a million dollars each year to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGS), an organization tied to International Planned Parenthood [PP] and its advocacy for legislation that includes both contraception and abortion as preventive healthcare for women.
Photo: Getty Images, H. Armstrong Roberts