Recently Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow girls into their ranks, leading to both backlash and support.
Many people believe allowing girls into a boys’ club degrades the sanctity of Boy Scouts. On the other side, many people believe acceptance of girls is progress for equality.
But in my opinion, Girl Scouts is still the better program for girls.
The problem is not that the Boy Scouts are including girls. There are plenty of scout troops, such as the Venture Scouts, that are designed to be co-ed.
There is nothing wrong with co-ed scout troops, but that is not what is happening here.
Boy Scouts was not designed to be co-ed; girls joining would still be under the flag of Boy Scouts. This is a gimmick to bolster recruiting numbers by expanding to a larger audience. In 2014 alone, Boy Scout membership dropped by over 7 percent.
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts provide a unique and invaluable service that can only be capitalized on when they are separate.
We no longer live in a society where girls can only do activities that have to do with the home and boys are doing the rough, tough outdoor skills. In fact, there is a considerable overlap of skills that both the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts emphasize. This overlap in skill sets makes the need for girls to join Boy Scouts irrelevant.
I grew up in Girl Scouts while my brother was in Boy Scouts. Both of us went camping, went on trips, sold cookies or popcorn, and earned badges over a large variety of skill sets. The most prominent difference was that my brother’s troop went camping every month and my troop almost never did.
That was not because of the type of scouts, but because of the people in the troop. The girls in my troop did not enjoy camping, but there are plenty of Girl Scout troops who did tent camping every month. The individuals in the troop decide how they want their troop to run and there is a troop for every kind of person.
According to Scouts for Equality, Boy Scouts’ new motion will give girls a chance to “participate as full members and earn the rank of Eagle,” but Girl Scouts already have an equivalent in the Gold Award.
The Eagle Award is more widely recognized, but both awards are given to scouts who have shown incredible leadership and drive by establishing a project to help advance their community. Both are achievements to be proud of.
Both types of scouts have badges that range from camping to personal finance to digital technology; there is a badge for every interest. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have an emphasis on service, leadership and community.
What makes Girl Scouts so special is the ability to be in an environment surrounded by other girls. Girls have the opportunity to see women in every leadership position and make bonds with their fellow girls. Girl Scouts provides a safe environment for girls to explore and develop skills without peer pressure from the opposite sex.
While some people might believe that separating because of gender is an outdated mechanism, the separation of girls and boys is not an attempt to put anyone into a box. No matter which scout group you participate in, you will be taught invaluable skills and follow a similar mission.
Girl Scouts is about providing girls with a positive environment to be leaders and grow as a person. It is a safe space to discuss problems that might not otherwise be addressed.
It is rare for girls to get this kind of individualized female experience today. This is why despite everything, Girl Scouts is still the best option for girls today.
The writer lives in Evans.