The Boy Scouts of America’s board of directors voted unanimously last month to allow girls to join the Cub Scouts and to offer a program that will let older girls achieve the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
The decision came after years of receiving requests from families and girls, evaluating research and gathering input from both current members and non-members, the organization announced.
The change is true to the organization’s core values, Michael Surbaugh, BSA’s chief scout executive, said in the Oct. 11 announcement.
“The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women,” Mr. Surbaugh said. “We believe it is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children. We strive to bring what our organization does best — developing character and leadership for young people — to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders.”
Welcoming girls to join the Boy Scouts, starting in 2018, will accommodate busy families who may seek a program that offers convenience, according to the BSA.
Cindy Bumble, a den leader for her son’s scout troop in Greenport, said scouting organizations are all about making new friends and connections, and bringing families together.
“Whether it’s the Boy Scouts or the Girl Scouts, it’s always a positive thing,” Ms. Bumble said.
Other local scout leaders pointed to the BSA’s statement or did not respond to requests for comment.
Nicole Alloway, who coordinates the Girl Scouts from Mattituck to Orient, said she hopes she can turn the community’s attention to the work local Girl Scouts do as well, whether it’s for their Bronze, Silver or Gold Award projects or annual initiatives such as writing thank-you cards to local veterans.
She said she hopes that a Gold Award, which is the highest Girl Scout achievement and requires 80 hours of individual work on a sustainable project, is seen as the equivalent of an Eagle Scout rank, the highest in the Boy Scouts.
“It’s important to me that Girl Scouts be seen in the real light of what they’re actually doing, rather than some sort of veiled, old-fashioned, old-timey [perception],” she said. While the Girl Scouts do sell cookies, that’s only part of what they do, she said.
The Girl Scouts of Suffolk County offers programs in STEM, camping, community services and more, according to Christine Terzella, director of public relations for GSSC.
Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson