By Creighton Holub, guest columnist
If you’ve lived under a rock for the past year or so, this might be breaking news to you, but starting today — Feb. 1, 2019 — the Boy Scouts of America have opened the final door to girls participating in the organization’s keystone program: The Boy Scouts.
With one minor change: The program for 11-to-17 year olds that is most famously known for the Eagle Scout Award also changed it’s name to “Scouts BSA” today.
Did you hear the sound of tires screeching on pavement? Just a few sentences in and I feel the need to explain this further.
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are two completely different organizations. Obviously, they both have the word “Scouts” in their name, but that’s about as much as they have in common. They are both 501(c)3 non-profit organizations. But you won’t find a Lion Cub Scout selling cookies outside your local HEB next month. However, a Girl Scout in a Daisy troop could be a Cub Scout too, but she’d be wearing her Girl Scout uniform.
Adult volunteer leaders have separate training requirements. As a personal example, none of my BSA volunteer training matters to the Girl Scouts of the USA. That’s several pages of courses covering everything from BSA-mandatory Youth Protection Training to climbing safety courses. Conversely, the Boy Scouts don’t sell cookies, so my Cookie Manager training doesn’t count toward anything in ScoutBook.com.
My daughter’s own Girl Scout troop leader — who is also her Cub Scout den leader — has to do double duty and meet the requirements of each organization, separately. The BSA’s BALOO camping training and the Girl Scouts’ Camp Certification are different courses with different requirements and training structures.
On top of all those differences, the Girl Scouts of the USA is suing the Boy Scouts of America. For more on that, read (https://scoutingwire.org/theres-no-confusion-our-goal-is-to-serve-all-youth/). Additionally, the Girl Scouts of the USA are not allowing boys to join their organization, with only a handful of gender-transitioning youth as the exception.
So let’s be crystal clear: The Girl Scouts are not the Boy Scouts, and vice versa.
Let’s add in some more confusion: There are also other scouting groups such as the American Heritage Girls and Trail Life USA, which offer different opportunities in similar structures as their *ahem* “competitor” Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts. So if neither Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts matches your pallet for life education, then you still have options.
No more complaining
For those who like to complain about girls being under the BSA scouting umbrella, you’re only about half a century late!
The Boy Scouts of America opened up it’s Venturing crews to girls back in 1971 … That’s 48 years ago. Not only are you late to the party, but there’s a good chance that you weren’t even born yet.
Girls have also been welcome in the other parts of the BSA such as Sea Scouts and Exploring.
Girls were allowed into Cub Scouting (Kindergarten to roughly 5th grade) at the beginning of the current school year.
Uniforms are one of the mainstays with any scouting organization, here is in-depth information about the availability of the new female-versions of the new Scouts BSA uniforms. For families that have already jumped ahead and purchased the now-“old” uniforms, you’re in luck as all past BSA uniforms fall under the “once official, always official” rule — you and your kids can continue wearing them.
Therefore, if dad’s old Cub Scout uniform fits son — or daughter — they can wear it with the child’s correct patches and badges.
There are new Scouts BSA handbooks as well. There are female- and male-specific versions. However, the BSA emphasized the differences are only with imagery and gender-specific pronouns.
“The photos reflect the troop of which the Scout is a member,” Bryan Wendell wrote in the BSA’s informative blog. “In other words, boys will see images of other boys in the Scouts BSA Handbook for Boys; girls will see images of other girls in the Scouts BSA Handbook for Girls.“
In a pinch, a scouting adult volunteer leader could grab either version, as page numbers and advancement requirements are exactly the same with the exception of “he/she” in the verbiage.
A rose by any other name …
“Hey Creighton, that’s a lot of new and different stuff!”
Well, not really. The rank requirements and merit badges aren’t changing. If you had to hike a mile for an achievement yesterday, you still have to hike that same mile today.
The BSA has been adamant about not lowering any standard for the Eagle Scout rank, and the same goes for its other ranks, badges and awards.
Also, the girls joining Scouts BSA will be in their own, separate troops. The girls who’ve already been in Cub Scouts have been in their own dens.
This isn’t a change in the Boy Scouts’ program, it’s a subtle change that could lead to better opportunities for our daughters than any generation of women have had ever before: The only difference is that females who are in both BSA and GUSA troops — remember these are two separate non-profit organizations — will be able to earn both an Eagle Scout award and a Girl Scout Gold award. So if anything, young ladies exiting both programs have the opportunity to be a step ahead of the young men their same age, when they’re applying to colleges and entering the workforce.
Eagle Scout transition news
The BSA, realizing that many potential Eagle Scouts are on the verge of joining, has done a once-in-a-lifetime offer for potential scouts that is available for 16 to 17-year-olds that join Scouts BSA for the first time starting from today through Dec. 31, 2019.
Normally, a young man would have needed to complete all the work for his Eagle Scout Award before his 18th birthday. However, starting today a brand-new-to-Scouts-BSA youth who would normally be too old to complete the work to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, has 22 months from the date of joining, as long as they are still 16 or 17.
Completing the entire rank structure of Scouts BSA in less than two years is no joke. If you are interested in this for yourself, a friend, or family member, be sure to read up on it (https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2019/01/31/temporary-transition-rules-give-new-scouts-bsa-members-the-chance-to-earn-eagle/?fbclid=IwAR3vn8PstAaOlzlgP83X4E42mZbfjLDWJBECi7Jpl0W9b-tH-ptbkxDUTLs) and to get in contact with your local Scouts BSA troop.
If you are looking for how to find a pack, troop, crew, etc., go visit beascout.org and the website will help you get started anywhere in the United States.
But when the New Year’s Eve ball drops in New York’s Times Square, the opportunity for that extension disappears.
Disclosure: The writer is a registered adult volunteer with both the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
This article originally appeared in the Cypress News Review, which you can support in a number of ways: