Boy Scouts Change Name, Welcome Girls To Program
With Jane Clayson
What’s in a name? Plenty, for the Boy Scouts. They’re changing theirs and welcoming girls.
Michael Surbaugh, CEO of the Boy Scouts of America. ( @BSAchief)
Alvin Townley, former Eagle Scout and author of two books on the scouts: “Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America’s Eagle Scouts”, “Spirit of Adventure: Eagle Scouts and the Making of America’s Future” ( @AlvinTownley)
Kathleen Parker,nationally-syndicated columnist for The Washington Post and author of “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care.” ( @kathleenparker)
Jan Helge Bøhn,Cubmaster and a Scout leader. ( @JanHelgeBohn)
On the specifics of the Boy Scouts’ inclusion of girls
Michael Surbaugh: “As we entered into this, we found there’s a high demand from our parents at the Cub Scout level, as well as the older youth programs, to have opportunities for girls in their families. And as we started with Cub Scouts — that was launched this year — we have separate dens, which are the small group for both boys and girls. And they participate in a larger group activity called a Cub Scout pack, and they have the ability to do that together.
“We wanted to provide an avenue for [girls] to experience the same things that boys did but maintain that integrity of leadership. And we felt that girls in a separate troop would have the chance for leadership at all levels. They would have their own Scoutmaster, an assistant scoutmaster. Same with the boy troops. But it allowed for what we called a linked troop to have a joint committee share resources and equipment. So this is not co-ed Scouting.”
On the history behind the Boy Scouts of America
Alvin Townley: “The Boy Scouts were actually created in America in 1910. But the global Scouting movement, which has 40 million young people around the world, was founded in England in 1907. It was really founded originally to create great citizens for the British Empire. An American named William Boyce happened to travel to London, and a young Boy Scout helped him out and wouldn’t accept a tip because he was doing a good deed for the day, and Boyce thought, Well, that’s something that America needs! So he brought back the idea of the Scouting program that America, over the past 108 years, has very much made its own .”
On the Boy Scouts’ focus on entrepreneurship
AT: “When you talk about entrepreneurs, you look at people like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Ross Perot — who all came through the Scouting program. Scouting teaches you that you can do whatever you want and no one is going to do it for you. Scouting teaches you to take that first step, to be proactive, to call a merit badge badge counselor — which might lead, you know, calling a sales prospect later in your life.
“One of my favorite stories that shows this, I think, is Michael Bloomberg, who was the son of Russian immigrants in Medford, Massachusetts. And he was a Jewish Scout and in otherwise all-Baptist Scout troop. (That’s one of the wonderful things that scouting does, bring together people from different backgrounds.) And Michael Bloomberg could not afford to go to summer camp. So the way he afforded it was to win this prize that the troop gave out every year to the scout who sold the most Christmas wreaths. So this Jewish Scout Michael Bloomberg was going to door to door in Medford selling Christmas wreaths. And, you know, we see where those salesmanship skills got him.”
On the potential downsides of including girls in the Boy Scouts
Kathleen Parker: “I don’t hear anyone talking about, Well what about the boys? What about their right or their choice to not have girls? Now, if you ask a 16-year-old boy, ‘Do you think it’s okay for girls to come along?’, they would probably say sure. But I don’t usually seek a final decision on such things from 16-year-olds.
“I come at this as a former Brownie, a Girl Scout and a Cub Scout leader. And I raised three sons, so I know all about the boys. But I learned, especially during my tenure as a Cub Scout leader, that boys really do need to be free of girls so that they can be boys. They have very few opportunities anymore to engage in what we would call boy behavior.”
From The Reading List:
CNBC: “ The Boy Scouts are dropping the word ‘boy’ from the name of their flagship program” — “Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh also unveiled the group’s new ‘Scout Me In’ marketing campaign aimed at promoting inclusiveness.
‘As we enter a new era for our organization, it is important that all youth can see themselves in Scouting in every way possible,’ Surbaugh said.
The umbrella organization will retain its name, Boy Scouts of America. The term Cub Scouts, for kids 7-10 years old, is gender neutral and also will go unchanged. Boy Scouts, which runs through age 17, will become Scouts BSA in February.”
CNN: “ She joined the Boy Scouts and sparked a sibling rivalry with her brother” — “For 10-year-old Ana Garcia, being around the Boy Scout organization was like a second home for her. She tagged along with her mother to her brother’s Cub Scout meetings since she was 5 and watched as he thrived in the program — learning how to build a campfire and whittle a figurine.
Ana built a birdhouse, went camping and biking with the pack, but she wasn’t able to earn the activity pins girls weren’t allowed at the time.
But it all changed for her in October when Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it was opening up its Cub Scout program to girls.
Now Ana is on the path to become one of the first girls to receive the highest rank of Eagle Scout.”
From here on out, the Boy Scouts are “Scouts BSA.” And, it’s not just boys. Girls are joining the ranks. Some people are celebrating: Why hold back a girl who wants to camp hard and climb high? But others don’t like it. What about the tradition and the value of single-sex institutions? Could this move be just about business?
This hour, On Point: The merits of the Boy Scouts going coed.
– Jane Clayson
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.