Wednesday’s announcement by Boy Scouts of America to allow girls into its Cub Scout program and create a separate program for girls similar to the Boy Scout program had us wondering what that means for boys and girls locally.
Charles Mead, director of marketing and public relations at the local Capitol Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, says he’s not aware of any girls who have indicated their interest in becoming a Cub Scout.
He does note that the council wouldn’t necessarily get those requests. Instead, those requests would come to the charter organization — the church or school or other group — that sponsors the local den, pack or troop. Those charter organizations could decide to start Cub Scout dens for girls within their pack, or start a separate pack for girls, or not allow girls to join at all, he says.
Once charter organizations decide what to do, the council will then figure out how to roll out the program to those packs or dens that have girls within them, he says.
When it comes to older scouts, those at the Boy Scout level (after elementary school), those troops don’t have the option of having girls within their troops. They would have to have a separate troop for girls. What that would look like and what those girls and troops would be called has not been decided, Mead says. The council also has not decided what to do when it comes to Scout camps or camping arrangements.
Traditionally Cub Scouts camping is for the whole family, so girls are experiencing that already.
Boy Scouts, Mead says, is trying “to reflect and meet a need demonstrated by families to offer a program that can serve both their sons and daughters.”
The local council is looking for more announcements and guidance from Boy Scouts of America next year. What it will be able to offer girls, though, is “not some watered down offerings for young women,” he says. They will have the same program as the boys and be able to attain the rank of Eagle Scouts like the boys.
Right now through Girl Scouts, girls can become a Silver Girl Scout, which is a similar project to the Eagle Scout project as far as a time commitment, as a middle-schooler and a Gold Girl Scout, which is a more complicated project, as a high-schooler.
Mead doesn’t believe Boy Scouts’ decision to allow girls to join will hurt the relationship between the Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Central Texas. “We’ve had a good relationship in the past,” he says. “We don’t see why it would need to change because of this.”
“The Girl Scout Program is excellent,” he says. “They have a very important focus on leadership development. They have really invested a lot of time in the STEM skills program.”
In addition to increasing science, technology, engineering and math programming, Girl Scouts also has increased its outdoor offerings in the last three years, and continued to focus on leadership development and entrepreneurship.
Girl Scouts of Central Texas and Capital Area Council of Boy Scouts always have recruited together, says Lolis Garcia-Babb, director of marketing and communications of Girl Scouts of Central Texas. “We both recognize the importance of Scouting,” she says. It’s unknown where that relationship stands after the announcement, she says. She doesn’t understand why Boy Scouts would want to try to recruit girls rather than try to attract more of the 90 percent of boys who are not in Scouts.
Girl Scouts does not have any plans to recruit boys to its program, Garcia-Babb says.
“Girl Scouts remains committed to and believes strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides, which creates a necessary safe space for girls to learn and thrive,” Girl Scouts of Central Texas said in a statement Wednesday. “The benefit of this type of girl-centered environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, and other girl- and youth-serving organizations, as well as Girl Scouts themselves. We are dedicated to ensuring that girls are able to take advantage of a program tailored specifically to their unique developmental needs.”