Don’t you love those famous Cub Scout cookies?
Get ready, because the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced Wednesday they intend to allow girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year. In addition, a new program for older girls using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts will be implemented.
Needless to say, the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) were unhappy with the decision, saying that the two groups had been friendly for over 100 years; Girl Scout officials believe the BSA was trying to recruit girls because the organization needed money.
Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief scout executive, asserted, “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 values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women.”
The new plans mean Cub Scout dens will be either all-boys or all-girls, while Cub Scout packs, which are larger, will be permitted to include boys and girls. The program for older girls, to be implemented in 2019, will enable girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
In August, GSUSA president Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote BSA’s president Randall Stephenson, accusing BSA of waging a “covert campaign to recruit girls into programs run by the Boy Scouts.” She added, “I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90 percent of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts … and not consider expanding to recruit girls.”
Both groups have suffered a decline; according to USA Today, “Reasons include competition from youth sports leagues, a perception by some families that they are old-fashioned and busy schedules that prompt some parents to despair of meeting all their children’s obligations.”
Last March, GSUSA reported 1,566,671 youth members and 749,008 adult members, a plunge from just over 2 million youth members and roughly 800,000 adult members in 2014. The Boy Scouts claim 2.35 million members, a drop from 2.6 million in 2013 and over 4 million in their best years.