Scouts of Amer­ica

The Day - - OPINION -

Much has changed since the for­ma­tion of the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica in 1910, soon af­ter Lt. Gen. Robert Baden-Pow­ell launched scouting in Great Bri­tain.

It was a world in which men were in con­trol and op­tions for women ex­tremely lim­ited. Women couldn’t even vote in the United States. Scouting was in­tended to in­struct boys in core val­ues — trust­wor­thi­ness, loy­alty, help­ful­ness, kind­ness, brav­ery and rev­er­ence — and fill them with a sense of con­fi­dence and ad­ven­ture to be­come fu­ture lead­ers.

Mean­while, many up­per crust women saw their fu­tures as sup­port­ing the ca­reers of their hus­bands by man­ag­ing the house­hold and be­ing good hostesses. Mid­dle-class women could as­pire to be teach­ers, nurses or sec­re­taries. Work­ing-class women of­ten ended up with sweat-shop mill work. Most women served as house­wives.

Thank­fully, this is a far dif­fer­ent world, one in which girls can largely have the same am­bi­tions as boys. It makes sense, then, that the Boy Scouts of Amer­ica has opened its or­ga­ni­za­tion to girls.

In Cub Scouts, the BSA rank for young chil­dren, the dens, made up of small num­bers of scouts, will be or­ga­nized into sep­a­rate boy and girl units. The Cub Scout packs, in which the dens come to­gether for meet­ings and events, can wel­come both boys and girls, or re­main sin­gle gen­der, based on lo­cal de­ci­sions.

The or­ga­ni­za­tion will uti­lize a sim­i­lar for­mat when girls are wel­comed into the ranks of older Scouts start­ing in 2019, which or­ga­nize as packs.

Camp­ing trips for younger Scouts, which are fam­ily events, will fea­ture boys and girls, while BSA will seg­re­gate camp­ing ex­cur­sions for older Scouts by gen­der. It’s sen­si­ble plan­ning. Girls will be el­i­gi­ble to be­come Ea­gle Scouts, a top rank of­ten as­so­ci­ated with great suc­cess and civic con­tri­bu­tion later in life.

Na­tional lead­ers of the Girl Scouts of the United States of Amer­ica, an or­ga­ni­za­tion with its own proud her­itage dat­ing to 1912, are not happy. For­mer Girl Scouts helped push for the changes that led to the greater equal­ity of the sexes seen to­day. They have their own pres­ti­gious top rank, the Gold Award, which while not as well-known as the Ea­gle Scout rank, de­serves no less re­spect.

They see their or­ga­ni­za­tion threat­ened by the BSA move.

Why not merge the or­ga­ni­za­tions to be­come Scouts of Amer­ica? Such a move could in­cor­po­rate the best of both, while bet­ter re­flect­ing so­ci­ety as it is in 2017. We won’t fault the Boy Scouts for tak­ing the first step.

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