Boy Scouts Include Girls

Margo Silliman, Staff Writer

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America have experienced a decline in membership. As a result, they’ve opened up their program to a more diverse group of boys, choosing to accept openly gay and transgender Scouts over the past few years.

Now, they’ve decided to admit girls as well. Author of the book Scouting for Girls: A Century of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and head of the history department at Utah State University Tammy Proctor said in an interview with The Atlantic, “I think the Boy Scouts are under pressure because they’re losing members. They’re under pressure to do something new and look for new members in a broader way.”

Will this help, though? The Girl Scouts of America offer similar opportunities, with the added advantages of being girls-only.

Michelle Juralewicz, marketing communications manager of Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, said she isn’t worried about the possibility of more girls signing up for Boy Scouts instead of Girl Scouts, who are actually hoping to use this as a platform to spread awareness about their own activities and even increase enrollment.

“There are studies that show girls at age six start becoming less confident,” she explained. “They’re afraid to raise their hand, embrace power. They’re not finding confidence.”

What makes Girl Scouts so important is “we don’t just offer programs, we also offer guidance,” Juralewicz said. Boy Scouts does as well, but clearly not in a female-oriented way with the main purpose to boost self esteem in women, in a safe, all-girl environment.

Some think that Girl Scouts is only “cookies and crafts,” said Juralewicz. But they offer outdoor activities, from chopping wood and pitching tents to STEM projects.

The Gold Award is an intricate achievement that requires creating a sustainable program in one’s community and numerous hours of community service. It’s a high honor some Girl Scouts receive, one that colleges value, Juralewicz explained.

Senior at Barnstable High and Eagle Scout, Wei Ming Qin, agreed that Girl Scouts can be overlooked in terms of achievements such as the Gold Award, which he believes is just as prestigious as the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Award.

He said he welcomes girls to Boy Scouts, but thinks girls should decide, having said, “If they wanna be an Eagle Scout, go for it. If they wanna get the Gold Award, go for it.”.

However, he does think allowing girls into the programs will increase their opportunities. He mentioned how going coed could improve how kids act socially, increasing familiarity and friendships between genders. But it’s unsure how possible this is, since the Boy Scouts have announced that there will still be separation between genders within the program’s activities.

Junior Taylor Harmon, a former Girl Scout, claimed she would’ve been interested in joining Boy Scouts when she was younger. Her brother was a Boy Scout, and she observed what Girl Scouts did “wasn’t as extreme as the stuff Boy Scouts was doing.”

She doesn’t think this will decrease Girl Scouts’ enrollment, though, and believes whoever would have chosen to do Girl Scouts in the past will continue to do so. “I think right now it will give girls who are into more boyish, outdoorsy things a chance to do them.”

However, Juralewicz said the Girl Scouts have become more hardcore since she first joined, and they’ll continue to do so, posing legitimate competition to the Boy Scouts.