Welcoming Girls into the Scout Program - Part 2
Answers to lots of questions from the field.
Scouting Magazine asked Scouters from around the country to submit questions, and then invited BSA Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh to reply. The magazine selected 22 representative questions and then taped Surbaugh as he was interviewed by Senior Editor Bryan Wendell. Click here to view the entire video, about a half hour long.
Below are the 22 questions with some Three Rivers editorial comments.
1. How was the decision made?
Surbaugh recommended listening to a recording of the session where it happened: https://livestream.com/bsa/nationalcouncil
Apparently there were Scouters who started out opposed but changed position after they heard the discussion.
2. Was decision driven by revenue and/or membership?
"Yes" for membership. The goal is to get as many people into the Scouting program as possible, because "We change lives and thus change America."
3. Was decision about lining pockets of BSA executives?
"No" to lining pockets, since "I'm not paid by number." But "Yes" to revenue, which affects any organization's long-term health. Scouts will be around for a long time, but lack of revenue will cause to program to be diminished and less diverse
4. Will all-boy Cub Scout packs be allowed?
"Yes" to continue all-boy packs, girls are not mandatory. Education professionals are mixed about the value of co-ed, with some thinking single-gender is good and some thinking co-ed is good. Surbaugh said, "Give it a chance."
5. What will the organization be called?
No plan to change the name. "BSA" has a very strong identity and affinity. Venture girls seem to be happy to be affiliated with BSA as an umbrella organization.
6. Will all-boy language and imagery in handbooks change?
Handbooks will change, with plans for Cub handbooks for girls in time for the launch. Boy Scout changes will be harder and may take a year and a half to work things out. BUT... Requirements for girls must be the same so there won't be an "Eagle Scout Lite" badge.
7. Was the Girl Scouts of the USA approached?
"Yes" for conversations with the Girl Scouts. Surbaugh characterized Girl Scouts as targeted to girls, versus Boy Scouts targeted to families. He said, "Parents need options." He said, "Our target is not the Girl Scouts but rather families with children in no program."
8. How will packs find enough volunteers for single-gender dens?
Surbaugh's experience as a council Scout exec was that small packs with small dens have problems getting adults to volunteer. "If we can get more families involved with sons and daughters, we're more likely to get adult participation."
9. Can packs have the option to make dens co-ed?
Surbaugh did not give a straight "yes" or "no," but he implied that a very small den might start out that way and then split into single-gender as the den gets bigger.
10. Will Cub Scouting become fully "co-ed" in a few years?
"No" to co-ed. Surbaugh liked the current approach, calling it "The best of both worlds."
11. Will there be a uniform styled and/or cut for women and girls?
Surbaugh said, "We've never had good reactions from women leaders. We'll rejoice if we can get it right." He gave the case for boys and girls wearing the same dark blue uniform, and told about suggestions to let girls wear powder blue. He said, "It will be fun to figure it out."
12. Will dens and packs be required to register girls?
"No" for required. He said, "This is about creating access for families."
13. When in 2018 can packs start welcoming girls?
Saurbaugh said that lots of packs were ready to start immediately. He urged patience, saying, "Wait till we're ready to ensure a really good program."
14. How will the program for older girls, debuting in 2019, work?
It's a work in progress assigned to various task forces. They may draw on experience from family camping and from a previous partnership between Scouts and the Campfire Girls.
15. Will there be a pilot of the older-girl program?
Surbaugh turned down offers from packs to run pilot programs right off the bat. He dislikes the term "pilot," because it "sounds like an experiment," which it is not. He asked for patience.
16. How will the adult-leader requirements change?
No changes are needed. The existing Youth Protection guidelines are OK as is. He said, "We've done it for years."
17. What about sleeping arrangements and restrooms at camp?
Most councils already have good facilities thanks to family camping. For the other councils, he predicted that they will be under pressure to upgrade.
18. What about inappropriate situations at camp?
Surbaugh was not worried and said, "We have smart leaders."
19. Will the BSA help girls feel included and not "second-class citizens"?
Surbaugh said that the survey was clear not to let this happen. He said, "Scouters are nice people."
20. Once young women can start working toward Eagle in 2019, will they use a different set of requirements?
He said, "Eagle is Eagle." The required merit badges for citizenship, fitness, etc. must be identical. As for the non-Eagle merit badges, Surbaugh pointed out that each boy chooses his own, and he expects girls to also choose their own.
21. What will happen to Venturing?
Don't expect any difference to the program, but Surbaugh predicted an increase in Venturing membership.
22. The change is happening. How can we encourage other Scouters to embrace it?
Surbaugh said he got pushback from Scouters who said, "You're going to ruin Scouting." His advice was to have doubters view the live stream discussion: https://livestream.com/bsa/nationalcouncil