You’ve probably heard the news. There are "now" girls in the Boy Scouts!
Thing is, this is really nothing new.
For over 40 years, girls have participated in Boy Scouts of America (BSA) through the very successful Venturing and Exploring programs for both girls and boys aged 14-20.
Additionally, many Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have siblings, both brothers and sisters. These siblings have participated in den, pack, troop and family activities in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts right along with their brothers. They have been at campouts, camps and events, built and raced derby cars, made countless crafts, helped collect food for Scouting for Food, sold popcorn, assisted with service projects, learned about first aid, household safety, citizenship and countless other required activities. However, at pack meetings and award ceremonies, only the Scouts receive awards and siblings do not. Eventually a little brother could join Cub Scouts, but what about a sister? Well, that is about to change.
Brenda Good, vice president of membership for BSA's local Sequoyah Council, exclaims, "I am excited that BSA has decided to include girls and young women in this program. I have been involved in scouting for 30 years and believe in it!"
Why the change?
Through extensive research, the Boy Scouts of America organization has found that scouting is truly a family affair. "Families with both boys and girls want something where they can participate as an entire family," says Brian Falin, BSA Sequoyah Council's senior district executive. "Families want their daughters to be able to earn BSA rank awards, even to the Eagle Scout level."
BSA research agrees. "Approximately 90 percent of girls Cub Scout age (6 to 10) who were asked want to be included in Cub Scouts and 87 percent of girls Boy Scout age (10-18) would like to be in Boy Scouts," says Good. So, Boy Scouts of America is making it possible.
What has already changed?
Cub Scout ranks have been traditionally: Tigers (1st grade), Wolves (2nd grade), Bears (3rd grade) and Webelos (grades 4-5). In 2017, the Lion Cub program was added for kindergarteners. In June 2015, the Cub Scout oath and law were replaced by the Boy Scout oath and law to make each program more uniform.
What is new?
Starting in July, existing Cub Scout packs decided on the option of becoming a "family pack." These packs will add new dens for girls besides those for boys, kindergarten through fifth grade. Of course, girls and boys will meet separately with their respective dens and not together. Then once a month, all the dens of the pack will come together for pack meetings and there will be some activities for each den and some that the entire pack and families can participate in.
Some packs have remained boys-only. There are also new packs forming in the area exclusively for girls, according to Falin. "We already have a charter organization within the city of Kingsport in the process of establishing a Scouts BSA unit just for girls," he said.
Camp Davy Crockett in Whitesburg, Tennessee, is in the process of making huge capital improvements which will add and renovate facilities to incorporate necessities of both girls and boys.
To learn more and sign up for Cub Scouts, attend a “School Night” event, the dates of which can be found online at www.scbsa.org.
What is ahead?
In February 2019, Boy Scout of America will become Scouts BSA. Troops will undergo the same changes as Cub Scout packs incorporating patrols for girls and new troops will be established exclusively for girls, while some will remain boys only. Members of Scouts BSA, both male and female, will be able to aspire to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
What will stay the same? All of the BSA rank requirements, badges, guidelines and programs will remain unchanged and handbooks will only slightly change.
"Our mission has not changed. The program will continue to prepare young people to make moral and ethical choices within their lives," Falin said.
How can you help?
"Two-deep leadership" is required for Cub Scouts. With the addition of girls, there is a dire need for more volunteers to help out. According to Falin, "the more family involvement and more leadership we have, the more a son/grandson or daughter/granddaughter will get out of the program."
Whether you were a Scout or have a child in your life who you would enjoy helping in scouting, BSA would love to have you as a volunteer.
The Sequoyah Council was one of the first established in the United States in 1931 and is made up of five districts covering 16 counties in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee and servicing almost 6,000 youth. Their headquarters is located at 129 Boone Ridge Road in Johnson City.
For more information on Scouts BSA, call (423) 952-6961 or visit the council's website at www.scbsa.org.