The Boy Scouts of America announced that they will begin accepting girls. However, this announcement that came on Wednesday has not made everyone happy. In what appears to be a historical decision, the Boy Scouts, an organization that has been in place for the last 107 years, will from next year develop a new program targeting girl enrollments.
The program will provide an opportunity for younger girls to join Cub Scouts. Older girls will have an equal chance of rising to the rank of Eagle Scout, a very prestigious position within the organization.
A statement released by the organization noted that the decision to launch this program was inspired by the increasing number of requests it had received from people around the country. But the move has angered the Girl Scouts of the USA. Back in August this year, the Girl Scouts had written a strongly worded letter targeting the Boy Scouts of America.
The letter said that the BSA was planning to start the recruitment of girls. At the time, the GSUSA said that the proposed recruitment of girls was designed to shore up dwindling enrollments that the BSA has been experiencing in the recent years.
Recruitment into the Boys Scouts has declined from its peak of 6.5 million enrollments in 1972. In 2016, the organization saw 2.3 million recruitments, a slight drop from the 2.8 million recruitments recorded barely five years ago in 2012.
Shortly after the Boy Scouts of America announced their program to recruit girls starting next year, the GSUSA was quick to respond. The Girl Scouts noted in a statement that only the GSUSA has the required experience to offer leadership and success to young girls who wanted to enroll into the movement. The statement also said that having a single gender environment is important in maximizing the benefits for enrolled girls, especially now that there are so many well-documented studies that appear to support this.
Despite this, the move to start recruiting girls into the Boys Scouts received a positive response from other scouting leaders. Zach Wahls, the co-founder of Scouts for Equality, a nonprofit organization, said that the inclusion of girls into the BSA was a major step in the right direction.
Wahls also noted that it was clear that the Boy Scouts was responding to the millions of requests it had received to change their boys-only recruitment policy.
Chief Scout Executive at the BSA Michael Surbaugh also said in support of this shift that the values of scouting were important for both boys and girls and it was critical to evolve the way in which BSA programs are structured.
Surbaugh also confirmed that the new program will respond well to the needs of families and parents across the country. It will be interesting to see how girls will take up the call from the BSA to join as of next year and whether this will have any effect in increasing enrollment over the coming few years.