Girls in Boy Scouts

Girls in Boy Scouts

Girls in Boy ScoutsMy brother, father, and grandfather have two things in common; they are all named Nick and they are all Eagle Scouts. While they belonged to different troops, they shared the same experiences and were all subject to the character development, citizenship training, and mental and physical fitness that makes up Scouting.

I have vivid childhood memories of my father taking me to Goosepond, for family night at my brother’s summer Boy Scout camp. The yearly trip included fireside stories, ice cream, and giant blue raspberry ice pops.

I was jealous of my brother for being able to go to the camp each summer. Not only because of the campfires, ice cream and ice pops, but because of the whole camping experience. 

He hiked, swam, canoed, rock climbed, and most of all camped. There were boys in my school classes that I would see every summer at the camp. I wanted to be them. I always thought: why aren’t there any girls at this camp?

Sure, there was Girl Scouts. But while Boy Scouts were purveyors of the outdoors, Girl Scouts were more purveyors of the indoors. I was never a Brownie, but I heard stories from my friends and classmates. They sewed and sold cookies, while my male counterparts hiked and climbed ropes. My brother had merit badges for bridge-building not baking. Although, he did earn a merit badge for basket weaving.  

In recent years, the youth participation in Boy Scouts has been declining. The organization is having trouble competing with recreational sports, which now begin at such a young age. For this reason, Boy Scouts of America has begun to recruit from the female population. They hope to appeal to young girls who want to experience the outdoors and learn skills applicable to life after Scouting.

While completely co-ed Boy Scouts is a new thought, girls have been present in the organization for more than ten years. Boy Scouts offers Venturing programs to high school aged boys and girls. These programs are available for boys and girls ages thirteen to twenty-one. The program brings Scouting values to life through both high adventure outdoor activities and challenging real-world projects.

As a Boy Scouts of America council member for Northeast Pennsylvania, my father recalls that the student leader of the Venturing program in past years has been a girl.

It is not that women and young girls have not been involved in the Scouting organization over the years, they have just taken a back seat to the activities, and inclusion. There are hundreds of female volunteers, Troop Leaders, and Scouting moms.

Boy Scouts of America has also been making a more concentrated focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) over the years. This parallels the societal push to encourage boys and girls alike to participate in STEM programs. 

Boy Scouts offer a variety of opportunities for learning and even give merit badges in subjects such as chemistry, animal science, dentistry, digital technology, and space exploration. Co-ed Boy Scouts would allow young girls to have early exposure to these ideas and concepts in hopes that they would find their passion and pursue a career in the world of science.

I think co-ed Boy Scout troops are a good idea and I wish that they were apparent when I was growing up. Then, I could have learned the ways of the outdoors and earned the merit badges necessary to be awarded the honor of Eagle Scout. I would have been able to put my knowledge of knot tying to good use and build racecars out of wood blocks.

While there are no merit badges awarded to members, students who love the outdoors and adventures can join Monmouth’s Outdoors Club. The club hosts a variety of activities such as camping, zip lining, and whitewater rafting.

Whatever adventure you go on, just remember the Boy Scout motto: be prepared.

PHOTO COURTESY of Caroline Mattise