Beginning earlier this year, the Boy Scouts of America have started letting girls into the program. However, the troops for boys and the troops for girls will be kept separate the majority of the time.
While the Boy Scouts of America will still be the parent organization over the entire program, the scouts will now be divided into Cub Scouts for grades kindergarten through fifth and Scouts BSA for youth ages 11 through 18.
Brett Matherly, Scout executive/CEO of the Arbuckle Area Council, said that while there are currently no troops for girls in Scouts BSA, there are several girls involved in the Cub Scouts.
“In 2018, the Cub Scouts was opened up for girls to join,” Matherly said.
The Cub Scouts are broken up into dens with each den representing one grade, and once a month, all the dens come together as a pack where they share their achievements.
“The girls can be a part of the pack, but they are in a girl-only den,” Matherly said. “Right now we’ve got around 100 girls in the dens at the Cub Scout level.” He said there are currently three groups, one in Ada, one in Ardmore, and one in Davis that are interested in beginning a girl troop as soon as they meet the age requirement.
“What we’re finding ,especially with the groups that are looking at starting with the Scouts BSA program, they’re groups that have had family members who were in the program. So for the most part, there is a tie to the organization maybe through a brother, father or uncle,” Matherly said.
James Tillison II, Chickasaw District Executive with the Arbuckle Area Council, said that part of his job is going to schools to provide information about the program.
“When I’ve gone into the schools, we’ve had an overwhelming interest by the girls,” Tillison said. “That’s been shown by the number of girls in our Cub Scout Packs. I expect it to build over the next few years as those girls get older and they want to continue into Scouts BSA.”
Matherly said that any girl troops that form will have at least one female leader, age 21 or older, helping to oversee the girls. He stressed that the girls and boys within Scouts BSA would be separated during meetings and camp outs. The only exception will be summer camp where the boys and the girls would participate in some activities together.
“When the summer camp program happens, we’ll make sure to keep them on separate campgrounds. Though they will be taking some classes together, we’re really going to be on our A game monitoring camp sites, and making sure everyone stays at their separate camp sites,” Matherly said.
Matherly stressed that the new incarnation of BSA Scouts is in no way affiliated with the Girl Scouts nor is it intended to take away from their program. Scouts BSA is instead intended to offer the same opportunities to girls that members of the Boy Scouts have always had.
“Maybe there is a girl out there who wants to have the same opportunities her older brother had,” Matherly said. “The program itself has not been rewritten in any way. It’s the same program we’ve had for over 100 years. It’s just that now we’re allowing girls to have the option to participate.