The Boy Scouts of American announced Wednesday they’ll begin letting girls into their Cub Scouts program, effective next year. And in 2019, girls will have the option to become Eagle Scouts.
Individual existing Cub Scout packs will be able to decide if they will establish a new girl pack, establish a pack with both girls dens and boys dens, or remain an all-boy pack, according to a news release from the Boy Scouts.
Christine Rasure, a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of Greater Saint Louis, said the group didn’t hear about the change until Wednesday, but girls’ interest in joining Boy Scouts isn’t something they track. The St. Louis council has 66,000 members in 51 Missouri and Illinois counties.
Kim Vrooman, director of development for Girl Scouts of Southern Illinois, said the benefits to a “girl-centered environment” are well-documented. The group has more than 12,000 scouts in Illinois.
“The Girl Scouts has 100 years of experience,” Vrooman said. “Without a doubt, statistically, women are under-served in the STEM field and outdoor fields, and Girl Scouts thrive in those areas.”
Vrooman said the Girl Scouts already have the Gold Award, issued to a Girl Scout for a sustainable project that has an impact on the community. U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois is a Gold Award recipient, as are 13 astronauts.
Michael Surbaugh, chief scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America, supported the change.
“The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” Surbaugh said.
The Eagle Award requires a project helpful to the community and have earned 21 merit badges. About four of every 100 boys who join the Scouts make Eagle rank, according to the BSA.
The news release says the same curriculum will be used. The BSA has had programming for girls and boys through its Exploring and Venturing programs, as well as a STEM Scout pilot program.