Girls in Scouting–Please Read the Fine Print


Unless you’ve been in the backwoods this week, you have probably heard that the BSA’s National Executive Board voted unanimously this week to admit girls into Cub Scouting (effective in fall 2018) and into a new program that will parallel Boy Scouting (tentatively effective in 2019). At some point, I’ll take the time to share the reasons why I think this is a good idea, but right now I have a different message: READ THE FINE PRINT!

Maybe it’s because we live in the age of “fake news” and “alternative facts” or maybe it’s because people don’t want to read more than headlines and tweets, but I’ve been amazed at the amount of misinformation I’ve read online about the decision. One Scouter said we have 2 1/2 months to adjust. (The earliest change will come next fall–and then only at the Cub Scout level.) Another Scouter predicted that the BSA will be sued when a female member gets pregnant because guys and girls are sharing tents. (Such tenting arrangements are already against the BSA’s Youth Protection policies, and at the Boy Scout level, the programs will be separate.) And lots and lots of people have speculated about what the board’s real reason for the decision was. (I happen to know several of the board members personally and know several more by reputation. They are all men and women who want only the best for the Scouting movement.)

Before you decide how you feel about this issue, I hope you’ll take the time to read the material on the Family Scouting webpage. And for more background on the research that led up to the decision, watch Mike Surbaugh’s video, which was shown in councils across the country this summer (and which I blogged about in August). That video runs nearly 30 minutes, but it’s well worth your time if you want to have all your facts straight before you start posting on social media!

Need more great troop program ideas? Check out the new edition of The Scoutmaster’s Other Handbook, which is now available in both print and e-book formats at


2 thoughts on “Girls in Scouting–Please Read the Fine Print

  1. kennethpking

    Mark –

    Thanks for reminding us to read before we react.

    I shared an experience in social media the day of the announcement. It’s not grandly composed, but it captured my experience in coeducation Scouting nearly 30 years ago:

    “I worked for the Scout Association of Ireland for a summer with boys and girls in close quarters and….nothing happened that we would not see in a single-gender patrol or troop. I’m happy for all of my friends with daughters who now have a chance for their daughters to enjoy what we have enjoyed over the years.”

    It was exactly like Scouting in the US. Even the individual patrols were mixed in that setting. The only difference was that at night, Scouts retired to single-gender tents (they used huge 8-person tents), so they mixed across patrols for sleeping. If anything, I would suspect that the fear of babies I have already heard so much about was reduced, as they seemed to be headed down a path of close friendship rather than romantic partnerships.

    In the photo: Scouts (boys and girls) sitting around a campfire. In the rain. If this isn’t a bit of Scouting that we can recognize anywhere in the world, than I don’t know what it would be.



    On Fri, Oct 13, 2017 at 4:15 PM, Mark Ray | Writer wrote:

    > markaray posted: ” Unless you’ve been in the backwoods this week, > you have probably heard that the BSA’s National Executive Board voted > unanimously this week to admit girls into Cub Scouting (effective in fall > 2018) and into a new program that will parallel Boy Scouting” >

  2. Karen Miller

    while officially the changes aren’t supposed to happen for some time, and when they do, girls are supposed to be in separate units, my son’s former TX troop will be welcoming girls unofficially in Jan 2018, and my BIL is already welcoming girls in his troop in NC. I have heard of several other specific instances of girl scout leaders across the country who are stating that they have girls who have announced they are leaving GS in Dec to join a BSA troop in Jan.

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