Local girls now have the option, but not the action, to join Boy Scouts
EAGLE — For two months now, Boy Scout programs have been open to girls nationwide.
Here in the valley, however, there hasn’t been a rush to sign up.
“We have had interest from some girls here in Eagle,” said local Boy Scout leader Wayne Nelson, the manager of the Steve Fosswett Spirt of Adventure Ranch at Sweetwater, “and they are working on putting together groups in New Castle and Grand Junction.”
Nelson said it is a bit of a misconception to think Boy Scouts — now known officially as Scouting BSA — has just opened to girls. He said for several years, girls between the ages of 14 to 21 have been involved in BSA’s adventure level.
“That’s always been co-ed, as has our Exploring program, which is more career-oriented,” said Nelson.
What’s changed is that now younger girls can be involved in Scouting BSA activities and they can work toward Eagle Scout honors.
“By welcoming both girls and boys into the program, even more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises,” notes the Scouting BSA web site.
Scouting BSA will now include dens, the beginning level of scouting, for girls once they hit kindergarten. At this younger level of scouting, dens won’t be co-ed, but boys and girls will mix at the pack level.
“What I like about it is it brings families back together,” said Nelson. “Too often, you have mom and girls going in one direction and dad and boys going in another direction.”
“I think it is needed in this country,” said Nelson. “We have too much division as it is.”
But the Scouting BSA announcement has caused some of its own division, nationally. Girl Scouts of America have pointed out they already offer programs for young females.
What about Girl Scouts?
“Some Girl Scout people feel we are encroaching,” Nelson acknowledged.
Sarah Braucht, who is a Colorado Service Unit Manager and Product Sales Manager for Girl Scouts, recently responded to the Vail Daily’s inquiry on the Vail Moms Facebook page about girls in Boy Scouts.
“From my chats with the local Boy Scout guys, they are not actively recruiting girls to join Boy Scouts,” Braucht responded. “I feel like our local Girl Scouts provide a great opportunity to girls, but I’m always open to suggestions if there are programs that people want to see their daughters become involved with our Girl Scout program.”
Girl Scouts of America have responded in a more pointed manner. One blog on GirlScouts.org details ten reasons why Girl Scouts is (still) the best place for girls.
“The way I see it is some girls are going to thrive in Girl Scouts and some are going to thrive with some of the things that Boy Scouts teach,” said Nelson. “The values we teach aren’t just for boys.”