Boy (and Girl) Scouts welcome
On Oct. 11, 2017, the Boy Scouts of America announced they would soon allow girls to join the Boy Scouting programs and that they would be able to earn the respected title of Eagle Scout.
This drew much mixed reaction from people all around the United States, some involved and some not involved in some form of Scouting. Even the Girls Scouts of the United States of America said in a statement, “The need for female leadership has never been clearer or more urgent than it is today – and only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success,” so this is obviously a controversial decision.
I write this opinionated essay to share my point of view on this highly debated topic.
I’m a 14-year-old male Boy Scout of Troop 33 in Shepherdstown. The decision to include girls came as a little bit of a shock to me, but I was half-expecting something like this to come along. The Boy Scouts have a program called Venturing, which allows girls, so further inclusion into the Boy Scouts was, in a way, expected.
A few girls in my school have also told me that Girl Scouting was not outdoor adventure as they thought it would be and, being a member of the outdoors-oriented Boy Scouts, I thought girls wanting to be in the outdoors would soon find Boy Scouting was the program they were looking for.
The Venturing program, founded in 1998, started from a similar program, called the “Explorers.” The Venturing program has groups of “Venture Scouts” stationed throughout the United States, like traditional Boy Scouting, except they do more high-adventure programs like kayaking and rock climbing. This program also allows both boys and girls into their ranks, and the preceding Explorers gave full membership to young women starting in 1971. That means that the BSA has had a co-educational program before this change, and thus is willing to make more changes, however slowly, to accommodate more people and different mindsets.
I have also heard from girls that Girl Scouting was not satisfactory when it came to having outdoor programs and camping experiences. One girl told me something along the lines of, “We went to a summer camp and instead of doing activities, it rained all week and we spent the whole week doing our nails in a tent.”
This was one girl in one troop, so I expect, as all people are different, some Girl Scout troops do more physical or outdoorsy activities. My mother, for instance, told me the opposite, and said that she enjoyed her time in Girl Scouting because she spent so much time outdoors. So apparently, some groups in Girls Scouting do have outdoorsy programs, while others don’t.
To me, that seems a valid reason for the girls not happy with their local troops to want to join Boy Scout troops where they know they will get the camping, hiking, fire building experiences they enjoy.
Now into the heavy side of the debate: “Is it right for girls to be able to join a previously single-sex group meant for boys for over a century?” My answer is yes.
As a boy in Boy Scouting, I’m not worried about girls joining the Boy Scouting program. I don’t think, however, that boys and girls should sleep in the same tents. I believe that when girls join Boy Scouting, they should either create separate troops or have separate patrols (team-based units in a troop to make leadership easier and to bond with different people) in a troop, but still participate with the boys in the same activities, programs and outings.
I only say that the sexes should be grouped separately because boys and girls are so different from one another and at this critical stage in our development (i.e. puberty), boys should get to spend some time with just boys and girls with girls because they can talk about things that they can relate to as the same sex and so that they don’t feel threatened by the opposite sex. Girls and boys should participate in a lot of activities together, though, so that they can adapt and become more comfortable and not feel excluded from the other sex. As the whole United States learned in the 1950s and 1960s, the idea of separate but equal is actually not equal at all.
Boy Scout Troop 33