The Boy Scouts of America will officially allow girls to become Eagle Scouts, it was announced last Wednesday, and the troop with more Eagle Scouts than any other in the area, welcomes the idea.
Wednesday the National Boy Scouts of America said girls will soon be allowed to become Cub Scouts and to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor.
“We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” said Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts.
The scouting board of directors voted unanimously to make the historic change in an organization that has been primarily for boys since its founding more than 100 years ago.
Shane Cooley, leader of the Louisiana Purchase Council for the Boy Scouts of America said the decision has been in the works for some while, but he is excited that the change is coming when he makes appeals for scouts at local schools the girls are more excited about Boy Scouting than the girls. He expects it to be a recruitment plus for scouting.
Roosevelt Wright, Jr., scoutmaster for the famed “Top Gun Time Travelers” Troop 65, says it’s about time.
Troop 65 has produced 50 Eagle Scouts, largest number in the Louisiana Purchase Council. The troop also operates one a Venturing Programs which includes girls.
“One of the biggest complaints we have had has come from high achieving girls who want to attain the Rank of Eagle Scout because of the doors that it opens for scholarships and job opportunities,” said Wright
Troop 65 operates a Cub pack, a scout troop and a Venture Crew. The Venture Crew is co-ed.
The “Time Travelers” is the only Boy Scout Troop in South Monroe. The troop has been recognized by International Scouting Magazine as “Time Travelers” and were featured in a four-page color spread emphasizing its national historic tours.
“This year we carried 22 Time Travelers to Hawaii,” said Wright, who added “Most of them were girls.”
Linda Young, a veteran Girl Scout Leader out of the Truevine Baptist Church said the Boy Scout decision has its negatives and positives. For girls who seek the recognition and rewards associated with being an “Eagle Scout” it will be good. However, Young said it will make recruiting girls more difficult because Boy Scouts don’t sell cookies.
According to Wednesday’s announcement, starting next year, young girls can join Cub Scout units, known as dens. Local scouting organizations can choose to have dens for girls and dens for boys. “Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls,” the organization said in a statement.
A separate program for older girls will be available in 2019, the Boy Scouts said, enabling them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Wright said Troop 65 has had a venturing program for over ten years. He said girls are highly competitive and do everything the boys do including, camping, swimming, knot tying and adventure traveling.
The Boy Scouts said the moves reflect the changing nature of American life, adding to the appeal of a scouting program that can serve the entire family.
BSA said it commissioned two nationwide surveys that showed parents not involved in scouting had high interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
For years, Boy Scouting has offered Co-Ed programs such as Venturing, Exploring and Stem, but those programs have not offered a path to Eagle Scout for girls.
Since many corporate and political leaders for the last 100 years have been Eagle Scouts, including several astronauts and U.S. Presidents, the rank of Eagle Scout has opened doors for many youth. Many branches of the military offer automatic advancement to Eagle Scouts as soon as finish basic training. Eagle Scouts often receive favored consideration for scholarships, promotions and job opportunities.
The Girl Scouts of America has an advancement program, but it is not as highly recognized as the Eagle Scout program.
In the past, the Girl Scouts have been cool to the idea of admitting girls into the Boy Scouts, citing research that showed many girls learn best in an all-female environment.
“We are unparalleled in our ability to build great female leaders who contribute to society at every level,” said Andrea Bastiani Archibald, a psychologist who helps guide the Girl Scout.