Saying that their research has shown that families and girls nationwide expressed interest in joining, the Boy Scouts of America will welcome girls into the fold beginning next year at the Cub Scout level, and then create a program for older girls to attain the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
“We believe it’s critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children,” Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s chief executive scout stated in a news release.
BSA officials said that contemporary families are “busier and more diverse than ever.” Usually, both adults are working, and there are more single-parent households than ever. Today’s world calls for more convenient programs that serve the entire family, they said.
Beginning in 2018, families could choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs could decide to establish a pack for girls, a co-ed pack or remain all boys.
Since 1971, the Boy Scouts has offered co-ed programs through its Exploring and Venturing programs. Venturing celebrates 20 years in 2018. The STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) pilot program is also co-ed. The BSA was founded in 1910, the Girls Scouts two years later.
Mark Jeacoma, the leader of Cub Scout Pack 20 that serves first- through fifth-graders in the Hewlett-Woodmere and Lawrence school districts, said that in the Five Towns, “We are fortunate enough to have extremely active Girl Scout troops, so I am unsure how much our pack will be affected by the inclusion of girls in 218. I personally have no issue with having girls join Cub Scouts.”
Jeacoma said he was a Cub Scout in the same troop as his son — his Cub Master was John Vinci Sr. — then became a Webelos Scout in the 1980s. “I asked my son what he thought and he felt it would be an interesting change,” Jeacoma said. Rami Jeacoma, 9, is a Webelos Scout.
Pack 20 and Girl Scout Troops 717 and 737, that also represent the Hewlett-Woodmere and Lawrence school districts, have a hearty friendship and the girls extended an invitation to the boys to an event at the Hewlett Community Garden on Oct. 15, Jeacoma said.
“That being said, we are committed to providing a robust and exciting program for our scouts this year and for the years to come,” said Jeacoma, who is in his third year of leading the 22-boy pack, along with the support of Cub Master Eugene Corless and Den leaders Joshua Fratti and Sheena Koroveshi.
Girl Scouts of the USA issued a stinging criticism, saying that the Boy Scouts have problems they have not solved. In a blog post, the Girl Scouts strongly supported the “single-gender environment.” “Girl Scouts is the best girl leadership organization in the world, created with and for girls,” the post read.
Kelly Occhiuzzo Zack, the leader for Troop 717, said speaking for herself, that if people are fighting for “equality across the board,” … “the answer is obvious.” With a Cub Scout and Brownie in the Zack household, the family shuttles between events and attends all of them together.
“I honestly don’t believe it is a bad thing,” she said. “Both Girl Scout and Boy Scouts have a lot of good lessons and like skills to teach. If you look at the issues that are in the forefront of our society, maybe scouting and the values that we try to instill can begin to address those problems.”
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