Announcement allows girls into Boy Scouts

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COLUMBIA - The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced Wednesday that the prestigious Eagle Scout award and several other opportunities will now be extended to girls. The change is in full effect in Mid-Missouri.

“The decision that was made by our national board today was really driven by demand that we have seen out in the marketplace for a program that builds character, that instills values, that’s not only for young men, but for young men and young women,” said Doug Callahan, Great Rivers Council Executive Director.

The change allows girls to start at the entry level in Cub Scout units, also known as dens. These will remain single-gender, all boys or all girls.

Mid-Missouri Cub Scouts girls programs will start in Fall 2018. The program puts them on track to become an Eagle Scout.

“They have found that 90 percent of parents whose kids are not in scouting would love to have a program like Cub Scouts and like Boy Scouts for their daughters,” Callahan said.

Cindy Fahrendorf, who has been involved with the Boy Scouts for over ten years in Pilot Grove, said some reaction will be negative.

“Some people will be like, well, girls need to go to Girl Scouts and boys need to go to Boy Scouts,” she said.

She has one son who did Boy Scouts, one who is currently in Boy Scouts, and one who just started Cub Scouts.

“I’ve been a den leader for all of my boys,” she said. “I think Scouts helps develop boys into good men.”

Her son, Ethan Fahrendorf, said he thinks it's great that girls can be a part of Boy Scouts now because it teaches about leadership, working as a part of a team and other life skills.

"I think Girl Scouts would be interested because it'd be a deeper experience," he said.

Boy Scouts has been mostly boys since it was founded more than 100 years ago with the exception of four programs: Venturing , Sea Scouting, Exploring, STEM.

Michael Surbaugh, chief executive of the Boy Scouts, said, “It is critical to evolve how our programs meet the needs of families interested in positive and lifelong experiences for their children."

Kerri Lawson, a mother of two Girl Scouts in mid-Missouri, said, “Society has changed and we need to accommodate. I also think that both groups have very different skills they teach that would be beneficial for each gender to learn.”

Fahreendorf said, “I could see it being handled different ways in different packs and troops.”

As far as the Boy Scouts name goes, Callahan said there are not any changes in the works so far.

Dozens of people have shared their feelings on KOMU 8's Facebook page.

"Not a bad thing really. Girl scouts is a joke, and I was a leader till I learned that it's just about selling the cookies for the money to go to the admin. Boy scouts has always taught more real life things than girl scouts," Kristi Heritage said.

"As an Eagle Scout I am against it! Why change the Boy Scouts. If girls feel like they aren’t learning useful skills in Girls Scouts ,then it’s time to make change to the Girl Scouts..Leave the Boy Scout alone," Rik PapaTiger Pollak said.

"Why did the Boy Scouts have to change, why didn't the Girl Scouts step up and change to meet the demands of the young ladies of today? Sad that the GS failed the girls," Robert Hamilton said.