The Boy Scouts of America announced on Oct. 11, 2017, that they would begin allowing girls to join the Cub Scout program and eventually earn the Eagle Scout ranking. Girls in Grand Ledge may be able to join in 2018.
Beginning next year, Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops will be able to decide whether or not they want to establish a separate ‘den’ or ‘patrol,’ respectively, for girls. The Boy Scouts made it clear that the groups would be single-gender, said a Grand Ledge Cub Scout committee chair.
The committee chair asked not to be identified, as their views are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Boy Scouts.
The program’s public relations department said in a statement that the organization will announce a program for girls to earn the Eagle Scout ranking in 2018. It will use the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program.
“They will be interacting because they will be working off of the same core book,” said the committee chair.
The committee chair said the curriculum taught by the Boy Scouts is not gender-specific. They follow an ‘Oath’ and a ‘Law’ whose values are intended to shape the Scouts into good citizens, as well as learn life skills like compiling an emergency kit and learning how to camp and be safe outdoors.
“I don’t want to sound sexist, but it was…in a way, to turn boys into men,” said Tony Pellerito, a former Cub Scout and Boy Scout.
Pellerito said his greatest concern with allowing girls into the program is the Scouts being on camping trips together once they hit puberty and everyone’s hormones are “going out of whack.”
Sarah Schepers, the membership team leader for Girl Scouts in the Lansing region, said that the Girl Scout curriculum changes every year based on what girls want to do, whether that is hiking, horse camp, or STEM.
“We believe that girls deserve better than a tagalong scouting experience,” said Schepers. “They deserve a program designed exclusively for them and by them.”
The Boy Scouts statement said the decision came after years of requests from girls and their families, which are becoming “busier and more diverse.”
The document specifically mentioned that Hispanic and Asian families are underserved by the program because they tend to prefer participating in activities as a family.
The committee chair said it may be an issue of exposure for minority families, that they aren’t as apt to join because “they’re not really familiar with the program.”
The busyness of families in general can be a deterrent, said the committee chair. Children are often made to choose between Scouting and other activities, like sports. Scouting, which is year-round, is “a lifestyle, not a club.”
The committee chair said the Cub Scout program encourages family involvement. Girl siblings would be present and involved until their brothers moved up to Boy Scouts at around 11-years-old.
“They perfectly fit in,” said the committee chair.
At age 14, the committee chair said girls are able to join Venturing, which is a high-adventure program within the Boy Scouts organization that is open to girls and boys ages 14 to 21.
According to the Boy Scouts, the organization has offered co-ed programs since 1971.
“It’s not anything new to the Boy Scouts of America per-se,” said the committee chair, citing the program’s co-ed European origin.
Schepers said the Girl Scout program is designed exclusively for girls in order to offer them a safe environment to explore opportunities and meet female role models. The organization holds community events for the whole family, as well as offering a family camping opportunity for members of the program, located in Harrison.
“Maybe instead of combining Boy Scouts and girls together, revamp the programs,” said Pellerito.“If Girl Scouts aren’t doing carpentry and stuff like that, integrate that into the program.”
The committee chair said that the program was divided into gender groups when it came to America, and that more countries have both boys and girls involved from Cub Scouts and up than have them separate.
“A Scout is a Scout,” said the committee chair.