Boy Scouts of America to admit girls into program


Janine Schueppert

Junior Lily Schueppert organized a STEM camp at the Nehemiah Center for her Gold Award.

Roosh Bhosale, Staff Writer

On Oct. 11, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would welcome girls into their program, starting with Cub Scouts, and allow them to advance to the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.

Although the decision may sound surprising, the BSA has been open to girls since 1998 in the form of Venture Scouting. Venture Scout crews specialize in certain activities, the majority of which are traditional outdoor activities. The main difference, however, is that being a Venture Scout does not allow members to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.

For Life Scout and junior Saswat Pati, the decision does not come as a surprise. Due to declining membership rates and the changing social climate, Pati feels it was only a matter of time before girls would be allowed to join Boy Scouts.

“They really need to do it at this point to promote inclusivity,” Pati said. “America is falling behind, many of the Scout organizations around the world are co-ed”.

The Boy Scouts of America is one of only thirteen scout organizations that does not allow girls to join. Junior Alexis DePinho, a former Girl Scout, believes that instead of allowing girls to join the BSA, the Girl Scouts should have addressed the issues within their program.

“I don’t understand why there is a higher merit for being a Boy Scout; if there isn’t a high enough merit for being a Girl Scout that should be fixed,” DePinho said. “Why should girls be Boy Scouts when girls can be Girl Scouts?”

The Girl Scouts have been criticized in the past for forcing members to conform to gender stereotypes and for not focusing on leadership activities. While Boy Scout activities include camping, shooting and rafting, junior Catharine Elrod, a former Girl Scout, recalls attending required etiquette classes to advance in rank.

“To become any level of a Girl Scout you have to do things that are considered girly,” Elrod said. “I probably would have had more of a love for the outdoors had I been a Boy Scout.” 

The highest rank in Girl Scouts, the Gold Award, is similar to the rank of Eagle Scout in that it requires advancement through the other ranks and requires members to complete a project which has a profound effect on their community.

These prestigious ranks are only earned by a small percentage of scouts. Only 5.4% of Girl Scouts obtain the Gold Award, while only 4.0% of Boy Scouts advance to Eagle Scout.

Although the Gold Award is as difficult to attain as the rank of Eagle Scout, very few people are aware it exists.

“I’ve been a Boy Scout for five years, but I’ve never heard of the Gold Award,” sophomore Life Scout William Urdahl said. “It’s not as prestigious as Eagle Scout because not many people have heard of it.”

This past summer, junior Lily Schueppert worked on her Gold Award project at the Nehemiah Center, where she hosted a STEM camp for girls. The camp focused on introducing girls to STEM fields through exploration. Schueppert feels that girls who join Girl Scouts join to be able to participate in outdoor activities, and the Girl Scouts’ focus on gender stereotypes has made many Girl Scouts want to join Boy Scouts.

Girl Scouts, now under new leadership, has begun restructuring their program to focus on STEM to encourage girls to pursue STEM-related fields.

“Girls Scouts has enormous potential to once again become a space where girls can have leadership opportunities,” Schueppert said. “I would encourage girls to stick with Girl Scouts. I think with the new direction they’re headed in it is going to be really cool.”