Lo­cal lead­ers Girls wel­come in Boy Scout

Par­ents can reg­is­ter sons, daugh­ters for Cub Scouts start­ing in 2018.

Dayton Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - By Thomas Gnau Staff Writer

Girls have long been in­volved in Cub Scouts and should con­tinue, a scout­ing par­ent and a lo­cal leader said Thurs­day, a day af­ter the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica an­nounced they will ad­mit girls to pro­grams start­ing next year.

On Wed­nes­day, the na­tional BSA’s board of di­rec­tors unan­i­mously ap­proved wel­com­ing girls into its Cub Scout pro­gram, cre­at­ing a path for girls to Boy Scouts’ famed high­est rank of Ea­gle Scout.

Both young girls and moth­ers al­ready have been par­tic­i­pat­ing for years in the boys’ side of scout­ing, said Holly Vad­nais, a mother of two boys who par­tic­i­pate in Cub Scouts Pack 236. Sis­ters have al­ways been present as “tag-alongs” in sit­u­a­tions where par­ents have to bring them along — or sim­ply want to bring them along — to scout­ing events, Vad­nais said.

And moth­ers have al­ways helped with lead­er­ship, fundrais­ing and other du­ties.

“They’re right there with us all the time,” said Vad­nais, who shares pack lead­er­ship du­ties with her hus­band.

The de­ci­sion came af­ter years of “re­ceiv­ing re­quests from fam­i­lies and girls,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion said, with both de­trac­tors and sup­port­ers re­act­ing to it over the past two days.

“This de­ci­sion is true to the BSA’s mis­sion and core val­ues out­lined in the Scout Oath and Law,” Michael Sur­baugh, the BSA’s chief scout ex­ec­u­tive, said in a state­ment. “The val­ues of scout­ing — trust­wor­thy, loyal, help­ful, kind, brave and rev­er­ent, for ex­am­ple — are im­por­tant for both young men and women.”

Boy Scouts have no de­sire to draw girls away from Girl Scouts, said Jeff Schi­avone, scout ex­ec­u­tive and CEO of the Boy Scouts Mi­ami Val­ley Coun­cil.

“It’s a fam­ily pro­gram,” Schi­avone said. “So sib­lings of Scouts have al­ways sort of been par­tic­i­pat­ing as a taga­long. They haven’t re­ally earned the (Cub Scout rank) ad­vance­ment, but they have been there.”

But for some girls, the boys’ side of scout­ing is a bet­ter fit.

“I grew up as a tomboy,” Vad­nais said. “I would have fit in much bet­ter as a Boy Scout.”

Be­gin­ning in the 2018 pro­gram year, par­ents will be able to reg­is­ter sons and daugh­ters for Cub Scouts packs and dens, the BSA said.

Ex­ist­ing packs may choose to cre­ate a new girl pack, es­tab­lish a pack that con­sists of girl dens and boy dens or re­main an all-boy pack.

In Cub Scout­ing, dens are smaller groups within larger packs.

“Cub Scout dens will be sin­gle-gen­der — all boys or all girls,” the na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion said.

Af­ter the BSA an­nounce­ment, the Girl Scouts of Western Ohio re­leased a state­ment say­ing they re­main “com­mit­ted to and be­lieve strongly in the im­por­tance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly en­vi­ron­ment that Girl Scouts pro­vides, which cre­ates a nec­es­sary safe space for girls to learn and thrive.”

The na­tional Girl Scouts or­ga­ni­za­tion re­acted as well Thurs­day, em­pha­siz­ing their top award or rank.

“The #gsGoldAward is the most pres­ti­gious award for girls — and it’s only avail­able to Girl Scouts,” the or­ga­ni­za­tion tweeted (@girlscouts) Thurs­day.

Kate­lyn Scott, mar­ket­ing man­ager for Girl Scouts of Western Ohio, de­clined to di­rectly ad­dress the BSA de­ci­sion, but she said re­search shows that all-girl en­vi­ron­ments are nur­tur­ing for girls, and that girls want those kinds of en­vi­ron­ments.

“We stand firm that Girl Scouts are all about girls,” she said.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion’s Western Ohio ser­vice area, stretch­ing from Cincin­nati to Toledo, has 42,000 ac­tive mem­bers, Scott said.

Schi­avone’s coun­cil — which cel­e­brates its 100th an­niver­sary next year — in­cludes five coun­ties, in which about 5,000 boys take part in Scout­ing, from first grade to 12th grade — as well as girls who take part in high school-level Boy Scout­ing coed pro­grams that ex­isted well be­fore Wed­nes­day’s an­nounce­ment.

Girls who par­tic­i­pate in the coed pro­grams don’t earn Boy Scout ranks or merit badges, Schi­avone said. But they learn skills and par­tic­i­pate in char­ac­ter-for­ma­tion pro­grams.

“Girls re­ally have been part of scout­ing pro­grams for a long time, with our coed high school pro­grams,” he said. “This is re­ally just an ear­lier en­try point” for girls.

He agreed there’s no de­sire by the BSA to dip into Girl Scout pro­grams. Any time a youth can be in­volved in a char­ac­ter-form­ing pro­grams, there’s value in that, he said.

“We’re not in com­pe­ti­tion,” Schi­avone said.

“They are one of a num­ber of many com­peti­tors that we have,” Scott said, re­fer­ring to Boy Scouts. “It doesn’t re­ally change our fo­cus.”

“The val­ues of scout­ing — trust­wor­thy, loyal, help­ful, kind, brave and rev­er­ent, for ex­am­ple — are im­por­tant for both young men and women,” a Boy Scout of­fi­cial says.

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