This week the Boy Scouts of America announced it would soon allow girls to join the organization. It is a decision that has drawn mixed reaction and left many with questions. So we talked with local scout leaders about the changes to come.
When a primary rule of membership has lasted 107 years, any shakeup is bound to spark backlash and confusion, especially when an organization named Boy Scouts, is now allowing girls to join.
“I think it’s kind of ridiculous, and kind of too much. There’s girl scouts for a reason, there’s boy scouts for a reason,” said Tara Pittman in Spartanburg.
“I’m not sure I agree or disagree with it, I guess I could see a place for it, I’m really kind of quizzical about it right now, I don’t know really what’s involved. I was a scout and we had a great time,” said Hal Carson, a former boy scout and den leader.
“Over 90% of the people that we’ve visited here in the Upstate have said this is a good move for the Boy Scouts, said Greg Leitch, the Scout Executive and CEO of the Boy Scout’s Palmetto Council.
Leitch has been visiting with community leaders this week to clear up misconceptions on the decision to admit girls.
“We will not have co-ed programs. We will have boy groups and we will have girl groups,” he said.
The Boy Scouts says creating a new girls unit in every area of the country will be a decision ultimately made by each community based on local support. In other words, it’s not mandatory.
Leitch says while the units will be separate, the program, requirements and badges will be the same.
But that’s something the head of the faith-based boys group “Trail Life USA” finds troubling.
“We really believe that if you take a program and a curriculum and a design and you try to make it work for both genders you’re somehow watering it down one or the other, boys and girls learn differently,” said CEO Mark Hancock.
As for Girls Scouts, Karen Kelly, the Marketing Director for the Mountains to Midlands Council, maintains, the girl led organization is the best model for creating future female leaders.
“We’re confident that the Girl Scouts leadership program is the strongest girl program in the world,” she said.