NEW YORK (AP/WATE) — In a historic change, the Boy Scouts are announcing plans to admit girls into the Cub Scouts starting next year and to establish a new program for older girls using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts.
Under the plan announced Wednesday, Cub Scout dens — the smallest unit — will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls. The larger Cub Scout packs will have the option to welcome both genders if they choose.
The program for older girls is expected to start in 2019 and will enable girls to earn the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Boy Scout leaders say the change is needed to provide more options for parents. The Girl Scouts organization has criticized the initiative, saying it strains the century-old bond between the two groups.
East Tennessee council ready to take in girls
David Williams with the Great Smoky Mountain Council said families have been asking for the inclusion of girls for years. He said several sisters have been going to pack meetings for a while.
“They are trying to manage their households and get children to activities and they want children in a scouting program. This allows for them to be in the same place at the same time,” said Williams.
Williams earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout. He supported the changes made to the program.
“More opportunity to develop leaders of tomorrow throughout our country,” he said.
It’s an opportunity Oliver Springs mom Amanda Craig was also thrilled to hear. Her son, Ethan, is a proud cub scout. She believed these changes will only enhance her son’s experience.
“It will be exciting for them to be able to work with girls on that intimate small group level and see what girls bring to the table,” she said.
Craig said three girls attend her pack’s monthly meetings. She is excited they will now have the opportunity to be recognized for their hard work.
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians sent WATE 6 On Your Side a statement on the changes made by Boy Scouts of America.
Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians believe strongly in the importance of the all-girl environment that Girl Scouts provides. The benefit of this type of girl-centered environment has been well-documented by educators, scholars, and other girl- and youth-serving organizations, as well as Girl Scouts themselves. For over 100 years, our programs have been tailored specifically to a girl’s unique developmental needs. At Girl Scouts, we are girl experts, and we work every day to help girls develop the courage, confidence, and character necessary to make the world a better place.