Some thoughts about the Boy Scouts’ move to admit girls

Photo (cc) 2013 by Phoebe Baker

I’m no longer involved with the Boy Scouts (not boycotting; just at a different stage of my life), but I continue to take an interest in what they’re up to. Admitting girls and giving them a chance to become Eagle Scouts strikes me as odd, given that both the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts were set up with the idea that there is value in having single-gender youth programs. The Girl Scouts aren’t admitting boys, so this comes across as an effort by the Boy Scouts to encroach on the Girl Scouts’ turf in order to bolster their own shrinking programs.

When our kids were younger, I was a Boy Scout leader and my wife was a Girl Scout leader. It was my impression that the Girl Scouts was a better-run program with none of the issues that bedeviled the Boy Scouts such as its longtime ban on gay scouts and leaders (since lifted) and atheists (still in effect).

I’m not sure how the Girl Scouts can respond to this latest move. The Boy Scouts may well have some success in recruiting girls who would rather be in a program integrated by gender. In our Facebook discussion, a few people have suggested that the Boy Scouts have a more robust outdoors program than the Girl Scouts, and that girls interested in that should be welcomed. Still, I’m skeptical as to whether this is a good move.

Over at The Boston Globe, Derrick Jackson offers a different perspective.

Talk about this post on Facebook.

A no-class comment

As the father of a son who recently earned his Eagle award and a daughter who just got her Silver, I’m appalled at a comment from a spokeswoman for the Boy Scouts of America that appears in today’s Boston Globe. Renee Fairrer tells reporter Irene Sege:

The Girl Scouts, pretty much they’re known for the Girl Scout cookies. When people think of Boy Scouts, they think of Eagle awards. They think of service.

Girl Scouts have to put in a tremendous number of service hours for their awards. The requirements can’t be directly compared, but the Silver award, for girls 11 to 14 years old, specifies that a girl put in 40 hours. The Gold, for girls up to the age of 18, requires 65 hours, according to a workbook my daughter has.

The Eagle, which a boy can earn up until he turns 18, does not specify a minimum number of hours for a service project, though such projects usually run about 100 cumulative hours from everyone who participates. In practical terms, that means the scout himself generally puts in fewer than 40 hours of his own time.

Too bad Fairrer didn’t understand that before she opened her mouth and inserted her foot.