For more than 100 years the Boy Scouts of America has been a club for boys, as the name would apply. That’s changing next year when girls will be permitted.
This seemed to happen fairly suddenly, without any kind of angst.
Former state Attorney General Rob McKenna, who is an executive board member for the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, says it’s a move that has been discussed for a long time. Though he shares in the surprise that it happened so suddenly, he points out that it’s not a new idea.
“We finally got to the point where we said this program would be just as valuable for girls, and girls would make outstanding Eagle Scouts, so let’s make this move.”
But will it be an awkward transition?
“The secret to the boy scouts’ success for 107 years has been the volunteers. We have relatively few staff compared to the number of boys who are involved and the number of volunteers. There will be a lot of volunteer training involved as well. I think you’ll start to see the changes happen at the Cub Scout level first …”
Though there concerns about mixing boys and girls, including on multi-day trips, McKenna says there have been other co-ed programs that have worked for years.
“There are lots of co-ed organizations that involve away trips,” he said. “There will have to be additional training … There’s no question, it will be an adjustment.
“Even before that, there will be some who are unhappy with this change in tradition. There aren’t many all-male programs left in the world and some will object to it on that basis.”
The organization’s board of directors unanimously approved the change. The Girl Scouts of the USA sought, unsuccessfully, to dissuade the Boy Scouts from the move, The Associated Press reports.
“Girl Scouts is, and will remain, the scouting program that truly benefits U.S. girls by providing a safe space for them to learn and lead,” the Girl Scouts said in a statement.
Though the Boys Scouts of America will keep its name, for now, McKenna says it’s likely to change in time.
Listen to the entire interview with McKenna here.