Girls can already join Cub Scouts (since June 2018) and starting February 1, 2019, older girls, ages 11-17, will be able to join the Boy Scouts of America also. No, they won’t be called “Boy Scouts” in fact the boys won’t be called that anymore either. The Boy Scout program will be changing its name to Scouts’ BSA and members, both boys and girls will be called “Scouts”. For specific Do’s and Dont’s, you can refer to Scouts-BSA-Branding-Dos-and-Donts-2018-11-29
The first thing we need to make clear is that the program will NOT be co-ed. Boys and girls will be registered in separate single-gender troops. Let’s take a look at what that will look like.
2 Types of Troops
The above organization structure looks very familiar, right? That’s because it’s been this way for over 100 years. No real change here, just keep on Scouting. But starting in February of 2019 girls can also register as members of the BSA in their own troop just for girls.
The organization of a girl troop looks pretty much the same as a boy troop. The only difference, obviously, is that the youth and youth leaders all have to be female.
What about the leaders?
All the adult leaders in either troop can be either male or female. Yes, you can even have a female Scoutmaster, a strange concept to some I know. And no the Scoutmaster for the Boy troop does not have to be a man nor does the Scoutmaster for the girl troop need to be a woman. The Charter organization and the troop committee can choose their leaders the way they want it. But of course, you do need to be aware of and keep the newest “2-deep” requirement in mind.
A 3rd Troop Type?
It’s not truly a 3rd type of troop, there will be only boys troops or girl troops but two troops chartered by the same chartering organization can share a troop committee. This will be called “Linked Troops” How this is going to work as far as troop numbers and such has not been fully explained yet. (at least not that I have found). A linked troop will require fewer adults overall and this way a single organization can support the same program for both boys and girls.
Why the name change?
So, let’s back up a little and look at the explanation behind the name change from “Boy Scouts” to “Scouts BSA”. The best explanation I found is this one.
This explanation makes a lot of sense to me. And it shows that they will be earning the same merit badges, the same ranks etc. I also like the following image which makes it clear that Scouts BSA will not be co-ed. If your son or daughter would like to be involved with a co-ed Scouting program they may want to look into Venturing or Sea Scouts.
Where to find out more
You can find out lots more by reading the FAQ on Family Scouting found on Scouting.org. Here are just a few Q & A directly from that document (updated June 2018) that I think many might be wondering about.
Q: Is this change a departure from the BSA’s core mission and values?
No. In fact, this aligns with our mission and values. After all, the values of Scouting as detailed in the 12 points of the Scout Law – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent – are relevant and important for both young men and women.
Our mission is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law. To achieve our mission, we create innovative programs and evolve existing ones that respond to the needs of today’s families and deliver them through dedicated volunteers in communities across the nation.
Q: Why is the BSA recommending single-gender dens and troops units instead of a co-ed model?
The leadership of the BSA determined that the best way to welcome girls to serve today’s families is to offer a unique model that builds on the proven benefits of our single-gender program, while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls.
Q: Are BSA programs relevant for girls?
Yes. On average, more than 90 percent of Scouting families and leaders believe the BSA programs are relevant to both boys and girls. What’s more, education experts also evaluated the curriculum and content and confirmed that the programs are both relevant and empowering for both young men and young women.
Q: Will we have different uniforms for boys and girls?
All uniforms continue to be reviewed and adjusted to meet participant needs. While the fit and styling may be a bit different, the uniforms will remain fundamentally the same.
Q: Do chartered organizations have a choice whether or not to adopt the expanded program?
Yes. Chartered organizations always have the option to select from the numerous BSA program offerings. They can select all or one of the BSA programs that they feel best meet the needs of their members and the communities around them.
What about girls younger girls?
To learn about the basics of pack structure and leadership requirements for girls in Cub Scouting you can read my other article called “Cub Scouting is NOT co-ed, and Scouts BSA won’t be either”
Author Annaleis Smith is a “stay-at-home” mom of 5 (3 boys 2 girls). She has been a Cub Scout leader since 2003. She has also been involved with district roundtables since 2008 and various council committees (including Akela’s Council) since 2010. Annaleis currently serves as a Cubmaster, Assistant Roundtable Commissioner, and president of the Commissioner College Cabinet for UNPC.