Rebecca Dravis is the community editor at iBerkshires.com and a longtime Girl Scout leader (as well as a Girl Scout herself as a child!).
The Boy Scouts of America are breaking a 100 year tradition by allowing girls to become Cub Scouts and earn the title of an Eagle Scout. But as membership rolls continue to decline - from 2.8 million in 2010 to 2.3 million past year - the change could be strategic."Our focus is to reach more youth with our program", said James Milham, executive director of Boy Scouts of America Hawk Mountain Council in Reading.Although Wednesday's announcement does mark a significant policy change, girls in the Boy Scouts isn't new.
"I don't look at the gender rule, I look at what the scouts have to offer and it's about teaching them to be our future leaders..."
Troop officials said Wells joined Cub Scouts in September 2006 at age 6.
Gentles carried his son's first uniform and patches.
"I'm very happy that the girls who want to do the kind of camping I grew up with have a place to go - more power to them", she said.
The positive feedback was a common theme among patrons.
Dan Gilbert served on the Boy Scout's Executive Council for 15 years and is now a member of the Advisory Council. "Girls Scouts does an excellent job getting girls ready for the real-life experiences". "They're all good core values to have".
Girl Scouts plan to remain Girl Scouts, even as Boy Scouts have made a decision to accept girls.
"If she did (scouts) with boys, would she have had the same voice in that setting?" The Girl Scouts national organization on Wednesday released a blog post detailing the benefits of a "single-gender environment" for leadership development. The way things are going it doesn't matter if it's a boy or a girl.
"My honest gut reaction is a little frustration because I feel we have the best girl programming and leadership programming already", said Mary Barneby, Chief Executive Officer of the Girl Scouts of CT.
"Utilizing the resources that we have already, we have the capacity to serve more kids and to bring programming, leadership development skills". The organization has also shown a willingness for inclusivity that has taken the Boy Scouts much longer to establish, so it could remain the preferred pick for parents of gender-fluid children.
With nearly 60 million girls and alumnae across the nation, it's clear that the Girl Scouts program works. In the early 2000's, the Boy Scouts of America had a membership of roughly 4 million, but membership had dropped to 2.3 million by 2016.
Steven Smith, CEO of the Connecticut River Council - the local branch of the Boy Scouts of America, with more than 20,000 scouts in eastern, central, and western Connecticut - emphasized that the integration is meant to complement Girl Scouts. "We are not trying to replace them", Smith said. Her brother was a Boy Scout and she thinks there could be enough of a difference in program offerings for both to co-exist.
"Expanding the program exposes more people, regardless of gender, to skills and characteristics that make them productive members of society", he said. "It was overwhelming support that we should move forward". The Boy Scouts have offered co-ed programs, such as Exploring and Venturing, for decades. The Boy Scouts also point to a desire for girls to be able to attain the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
There are mixed reactions in San Diego in response to the Boy Scouts of America's announcement that they plan to begin admitting girls in 2018. I suspect that the BSA thinks that this latest move will allow them to get out ahead of the next big culture war battle, which will involve some combination of feminist entitlement and increased transgender acceptance.
This may have been news to the Girl Scouts, whose Brownie and Junior programs cater to girls who are about the age of Cub Scouts.