At the Council’s mid-year meeting for District Key 3 (District Chair, Commissioner, and Executives), a topic that is getting mixed amount of attention was brought up. The issue was “should girls be admitted to packs and troops?”
I did a quick search online in the hopes of determining how much social media there is on the topic. I found these articles as a sampling:
- Bryan on Scouting (2015 to present) has a long-standing forum on the topic.
- NPR, “Girl who Wants to be a Boy Scout” (April 29, 2017).
- Change.org (date unclear). (Girl wants to be an Eagle Scout. Seems to be source of NPR story). 75% to 10,000 signer goal.
- Patheos and NBC News (May, 2017) (describing National Council scheduled debate on topic).
- Outside Online
- Detroit Free Press (February 2017) (good background on current status of debate).
There are many more, but I would not call it a crushingly large amount of recent publications. Now I may have found more if I would have varied my search terms, but all other things being equal, it is not a PR onslaught.
That has some advantages to have having a conversation on the topic. There is less heat, so tempers may not run as hot.
Patrick Sterrett in mentioning this treated as if this is a beginning to a longer conversation for the National Council. He solicited our feedback and invited interested persons to talk to him directly. Patrick is a very open person, so he would enjoy a face-to-face conversation with any interested persons.
Our District Chair John Wiebke is in a unique position. He grew up going to Camp Kikthaweneund, getting his Eagle along the way. He served on staff at Philmont and the International Scout Centre in Konderstag, Switzerland (the Philmont of the Worldwide Scouting Movement). He also served as a scout leader in the Swedish Scout Federation for 13 years. After those experiences, he returned to Indiana and served as the Scoutmaster for Troop 358 for three years. In those different capacities, he has been witness to all types of scouts, single-sex units, and co-ed units.
Part of the impetus to this conversation is that Scouting worldwide is now co-ed, except in the USA and some Muslim countries. The UK went co-ed several decades ago. Scouts Canada did more recently.
After the discussion that Patrick led, I asked John some questions about his experiences and shared some of my concerns. I don’t know that either led me to a clear answer.
Most feedback I have heard from parents of daughters is that the Girl Scouts USA has a program that does not offer the same challenges for girls that Venturing does. Having no daughter nor personal involvement with Girl Scouts USA, I can only listen to these comments.
I would recommend that all units have this issue put to their unit committees and their Chartered Organization in the next several months. You can then share the feedback that you hear with your Unit Commissioner or District Committee Member.
The one goal for me is that this issue of membership is handled more patiently and more respectfully that the last several rounds have. Scouting should always be looking to serve its current members better while looking to serve the community-at-large better, too.
A debate and conversation worthy of the Scout Law is definitely serving all parties well.
NOTES ON COMMENTS: Anyone in North Star or the Crossroads of America Council, especially girl members of a Venturing Crew or Explorer Post, are encouraged to send their thoughts to me. If the comments comply with the Scout Law, we can post them. Even better, comment below. If a commentator is from outside Crossroads of America Council, we reserve the right to refrain from posting the comments. This is a website for scouting in the Council, especially North Star Distict, and not a newspaper.