My three older brothers and I grew up in Scouting and became
Eagle Scouts in the 70’s and early 80’s. My sister Marjorie loved
Scouting, too. She wanted to be a Scout but was not permitted to
participate. Regrettably, she missed out on a major part of our family’s
life. Marjorie would have made a great Eagle Scout and that is why I welcome
Family Scouting being introduced this year.
Let’s be clear - Family Scouting is not coed Scouting. Our
model will build on the benefits of a single-gender program and provide our
iconic character and leadership-building programs to both boys and girls in
gender-specific groups. However, the program will be the same for both boys and
girls and busy families will benefit from a new, simplified option.
When the Boy Scouts of America started in 1910 women did not
have the right to vote. For the most part, women did not serve in
leadership roles in business, government or in civic life. “Family
camping” was not a popular pastime. In 1910, 23% of women were in the
workforce compared to nearly 60% today with women now making up 47% of the U.S.
workforce. (U.S. Dept. of Labor, 2017). Today, women lead corporations,
civic organizations, and universities. They not only vote, but serve at
the highest levels of government and participate fully in our political
process. Today, everything that we teach in Scouting is applicable to
both boys and girls.
Girls in Scouting is not new – girls have participated in our
Exploring and Venturing programs for teens ages 14-20 for decades. Now,
girls will be able to fully benefit from the citizenship, leadership, life
skills, outdoor education and character development opportunities that Scouting
Our research shows that today’s parents want the benefits of the
Scouting program for their sons and daughters. A report from the Pew
Research Center shows that 4 in 10 parents want to spend more time with their
children. And many young families want to achieve this by participating
in activities together. If we don’t make the program accessible to
families and remove barriers to their involvement, they won’t participate at
Beginning this June, families can choose Cub Scouting (grades
K-5) for both their sons and daughters. Girls who join will participate
in an all-girl group, doing the same activities as the boys and earning the
same awards. Boys will continue to be in all-boy groups.
In 2019, we will introduce a new option for girls in grades 6
thru 12 to join troops for girls and give them the opportunity to achieve our
highest rank – Eagle Scout. This will be in girl-only troops that are either
stand-alone or may be “linked” to, or associated with, existing troops for
boys. The experience for boys will not change; troops will be single-gender.
This change helps parents that want to serve as volunteer
leaders. Busy parents will only need to learn one program, one set of
rules, attend one training program, and go to one set of organizational
meetings. Parents will find it easier to be involved with their children.
For decades, our different programs – Explorers, Venturing, Cub
Scouts and Boy Scouts all operated under the umbrella of the Boy Scouts of
America. Now, one of those programs will change its name from “Boy
Scouts” to “Scouts B.S.A.” The name change is important—calling girls
“Boy” Scouts is a misnomer. And what 15-year-old youth likes being called
a “boy” or “girl”? These teens are growing, maturing, and developing into
young men and women. I embrace the program name change—they’re now
“Scouts”. But the name of our organization - Boy Scouts of America - will
This new option for families is powerful. Speaking to
parents of boys whose daughters joined Cub Scouts this spring, it is rewarding
to hear about how they appreciate the opportunity to participate in Scouting
together and how grateful they are that their daughters can also benefit from
Scouting’s character development programs. More boys and girls will be
prepared for success in life!
Though my sister, Marjorie, could not be an Eagle Scout, she is
excited that we offering our programs to today’s girls and to the entire
family. And my niece, Leah, is looking forward to becoming a Cub Scout
along with her brother Toby.
Tim McCandless is the Scout Executive & CEO of the
Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America which serves 13,400 youth in
Southeastern New England. He is an Eagle Scout and the father of three
Eagle Scouts who lives in Bristol, Rhode Island.