Locals react to Boy Scouts of America welcoming girls into program

Locals react to Boy Scouts of America welcoming girls into program

The Boy Scouts of America recently announced they are accepting girls into their iconic Boy Scouts program as of Friday. With the change comes a new name to the program which has been around for over 100 years. The program is now called Scouts BSA.

Girls aged 11 to 17 who join will get the same experience as Boy Scouts. That is an opportunity former Girl Scout Amethyst Davis is all for.

"I think that is really good because now girls can do the things boys can," Davis said.

It will also give girls the opportunity to reach the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

Girl Scout Sarah Moore said she likes the idea and suggested the change go one step further.

"Maybe make it a ‘Friend Scout’, instead of Girl Scout or Boy Scout. We could just change the title," said Moore.

Not everyone is excited about the change. Parents are raising concern about girls and boys together, especially when it comes to co-ed camping trips. John Foster said he is on the fence about the switch, but ultimately thinks it could lead to opportunities for young girls.

"If there is supervision and there is a lot of adults around then I'm all for it," Foster said.

In a statement from Scout Executive of the Gulf Coast Council, Spencer Page said he has been a scouter for 34 years. During his time, he has seen the benefits of scouting and is excited to offer it to all kids.

He stated the change might not be as drastic as people might think. He said there will be separate girl and boy troops within the program, with different leadership.

He also highlighted the majority of other programs like Cub Scouts, Venture and Exploring are all co-ed.

Page said the group has talked about the switch internally for quite some time. He said they are taking steps to make sure concerns don't become reality.

Here is the full statement from Page:

As of 12:01 Thursday night the first girls in our area joined the newly formed Scouting BSA. The troop held a ceremony at our camp welcoming girls to the scouting program.
On February 1st, Boy Scouts of America started its program called Scouting BSA. This program title will take the place of BOY SCOUT TROOPS and encompass both Boy troops and Girl troops. There will not be mixed troops of boys and girls and all the leadership for each troop will remain separate. Our overall organization will remain under the name Boy Scouts of America.
While there are people with concern of the this change, it is not as drastic as it may seem. Girls have been in our Venture and Exploring programs for years and those programs are co-ed. Girls have been to council camps, National Jamborees and thousands of other activities for years. Our Cub Scout Program began accepting girls back in January of 2018. These young ladies will have the same opportunity as young men to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. There are no changes to the requirements of this achievement so, it can be just as special to a girl as a boy who earns it.
I have been a professional scouter for 34 years and I understand that some changes in long standing programs are hard but, at the same time, I have seen what Scouting can do for a young person and I want to help provide that opportunity to all kids.
The Gulf Coast Council serves 11 counties in south Alabama and the Panhandle of Florida. We currently have 8 charter partners that are in the process of organizing girl troops under the new Scouting BSA program. The first officially registered is a Girl Troop here in Pensacola.
I am excited to see what these young ladies will do in our program. With our community and our nation welcoming more and more female leaders at top levels of government and business, I welcome our chance as a youth organization to build their leadership skills and character.
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