Friday began a new era for the Boys Scouts of America.
Girls 11-17 years of age are now eligible and invited to join the newly named Scouts BSA programs, under the former-named umbrella that includes Cub Scouts.
In a statement released Friday from the national headquarters, Scouts BSA stated, “For more than five decades, the Boy Scouts of America has been welcoming young women into its Venturing, Exploring, Sea Scouts and STEM Scouts programs. And today, the BSA is further expanding that legacy by welcoming young women into Scouts BSA.”
The national release quotes Michael B. Surbaugh, Chief Scout Executive saying, “I could not be more excited for what this means for the next generation of leaders in our nation. Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before — young women and men — will get to experience the benefits of camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness through a time-tested program that has been proven to build character and leadership.”
Surbaugh said the change is in response to years of requests from families wishing every member of their family participate.
The announcement of the dynamic change to the BSA program didn’t sit well with some groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the largest supporters and members of the Scouting program. Members of the church’s top leadership have a long history of participation on the national Board of Directors.
Members of the church showed concern over the change and left some wondering if girls would be drop out of planned programs like activity days, girls camp and doing personal progress programs to join Scouting.
In a statement from October 2017 when BSA announced the inclusion of girls in Scouting, the LDS Church stated, “The Activity Days and Personal Progress programs of the Church have long been in place to meet the needs of girls and young women in these age groups, and no change will be made in Church programs. We recognize that the desire of the BSA is to expand their programs to serve more young people in the United States. The Church, too, continues to look at ways to serve the needs of our youth worldwide.”
In May, the LDS Church announced it would be breaking its 100-year-old ties to BSA. Newly designed youth programs for the global church will begin in January of 2020.
Utah’s National Parks Council of the Boy Scouts of America, based in Orem, is the largest district in the national Scouting program. It covers Utah from Lehi south and some border areas in surrounding states. More than 90 percent of local Scout troops are organized at LDS ward or congregation level and troop leaders are chosen via a church calling from the local bishop of the congregation, according to National Parks Council numbers from 2017.
As for the National Parks Council, while it did not return Daily Herald phone calls Friday, it appears from its website that all things are ready for an influx of girls who may join.
On March 1-2, the National Parks Council is holding a girls-only Klondike Camp Adventure at Maple Dell Camp in Payson. The overnight winter camping experience will include activities including camping, tomahawk throwing, Klondike sled racing and a teddy bear archery target practice.