The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that, beginning next year, it is welcoming girls into its Cub Scout program and creating a scouting program for older girls.
The Boy Scouts Board of Directors unanimously approved allowing girls entry into areas historically exclusive to boys, citing years of interest from families and girls.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” said Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children.”
The Cub Scouts is a program for pre-adolescents that often leads to entrance into the Boy Scouts, but the decision goes further than letting young girls participate in Cub Scouts. It also creates a program for older girls, going to the unprecedented lengths of giving them the opportunity to earn the highest rank Boy Scouts offer, Eagle Scout.
According to Boy Scouts, a survey of parents not involved in scouting revealed strong interest in involving their daughters in the program, with 90 percent expressing interest in a program like Cub Scouts and 87 percent expressing interest in a program like Boy Scouts.
Starting in the 2018 program year, families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack.
“We have had several parents ask if their daughters could join. We just had to say no,” said Len Signoretti, leader of Cub Scout Pack 44 in Catskill. “We have families with multiple siblings, duel earning or single parents. This makes the program so much more convenient.”
Signoretti, who said Pack meetings are a family event, said he already lets the female siblings at the pack meetings participate in activities.
“I would never want to leave the girls out,” Signoretti said. “The things this program embodies are just as important to girls as they are to boys.”
Signoretti said he and his wife have led the pack for many years with his youngest son entering Boy Scouts, so he is not sure how much longer he will continue, but he said he is excited about the change.
“This may even help to attract more parents to become leaders,” Signoretti said. “We just had our open house and brought in more than 20 new families into the pack. We heard a lot of excitement from families in anticipation of this change.”
He said he will be discussing the change with the other leaders in the pack to get their thoughts and feelings about the change because the organization leaves the ultimate decision to leaders at the pack level based on interest.
“I personally think it is fantastic,” Signoretti said.
The decision will take effect in 2018.