Old Lone Scouting BSA shoulder patch emblem

Girls, the BSA and Lone Scouting (Updated!)

Content added by Mike Walton

Image of female Cub Scout

Photo of female Cub Scouts (provided via the Cub Scout Girl Den Early Adopters Facebook discussion/resource group)

The Boy Scouts of America, acting on behalf of it's National Executive Board and upon the requests of literally thousands of families over the last 40 or so years will allow female youth, starting in the summer of 2018, to become members of Cub Scout Packs and later Boy Scout Troops in 2019.

In May of 2018, the BSA's National Executive Board confirmed and it was announced during the National Annual Meeting that when Cub Scouting and Lone Boy Scouting will formally add girls to their programs (Cub Scouting starting with the fall of 2018; Scouts BSA (what was formerly called "Boy Scouts") in Feburary of 2019); Lone Cub Scouting and Lone Scouting WILL also admit girls. This action will provide the opportunity to bring families to Lone Scouting as well as traditional unit-managed Scouting.

(In American English: girls will be eligible to become Lone Cub Scouts starting in the fall of 2018 and be eligible to become Scouts starting in Feburary 2019. The delay is simply to allow the BSA to further review and adjust programming standards and practices, both with regard to units and Lone Scouting.)

Some of you may say "How did we GET to this point? Why would girls and their families want to become part of Cub Scouts or Scouts?"

The Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA for short) has a great program for young women separate and with very little if any connection to the programs of the Boy Scouts of America. Their program for many decades in the past was a parallel one to the BSA's Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs, and many girls benefited from their membership and leadership within that program. Since the early 80s however, as the BSA provided career awareness and education through its Contemporary Exploring program, the desire to be a Girl Scout among many elementary and middle-school aged girls waned and younger girls wanted to do many if not all of the things which Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts engage themselves into by just being members. The GSUSA program changed to provide dynamic activities geared to young women discovering that they could do a wide variety of hobby, vocational, professional and technical roles in American society. They de-emphased camping and outdoor activities as a result. While both programs had great community support, it is the outdoor nature of the Boy Scout program and it's run up, the WEBELOS Cub Scout program, which attracts younger girls.

Several honest attempts were made by both organizations to merge their national organizations into one which would serve the majority of youth in the United States. Those attempts failed however, when both sides refused to give up on those things which made them uniquely different from each other and standouts when compared to other national youth-serving organizations. Both organizations also felt the nipping on their organizational heels from programs like Campfire and Junior Achievement, which moved into the outdoors for some of its programs; from programs like Awana, Royal Rangers/Missionettes, and Compass which provided a religious and family overlay to their outdoor and community programs and activities; and from school and community sports programs, which became less and less of a single sex activity and more of a family experience for those participants. The BSA and GSUSA retreated to their corners and continued to advance their programs as best as they could.

All national youth-serving organizations, starting in the early 90s, suffered losses to their membership, financial support, and public acknowledgement and awareness, including the BSA. Less and less Americans had the Scouting experience as a youth and therefore as an adult could not relate to or even support Scouting because, well, they didn't know too much about the programs themselves. With the onset of computers, portable telephones and handheld technologies, their grandchildren are growing up not only vaguely aware of Scouting and it's importance in American life; they simply choose to do things with their "own circle of friends" -- physically and increasingly electronically -- and their families.

The BSA has been studying this change since 1996, and was overwhelmed with their research findings. See, many families, despite the name and emphasis "Boy Scouts of America", brought their female children and their younger male children, to Boy Scouting activities. It is much cheaper and easier than attempting to find and pay babysitters; the values Scouting provides are universal and need little to no "translation" from boy to girl; the regular meeting activities lend themselves to the entire family participating; the advancement system would give both boys and girls an equal playing field instead of "one program for the boys and another for the girls". It was a "win-win-win" for everyone: the youth got a program in which their peers AND their family can participate in completely; the BSA picks up families include NEW families which previously had limited to no knowledge of "boy scouts"; and the community and nation benefits from having youth grow up knowing that their knowledge and experience can be translated into good quality citizens of strong positive character -- guided by the Scout Oath or Promise and the Scout Law, regardless of sex.

To those who say things like "well, boys and girls are not supposed to be together -- BOY SCOUTS AND GIRL SCOUTS", they are living examples of how society has moved forward in a short span of time -- and left them behind unfortunately:

  • It was in the 50s that sitting next to a person of color -- any other color than white -- would garner comments like "he's gonna give you a disease by sitting by them..." and "they need their own way to get around..."

  • In the 60s, it was "you can't trust anyone over 30", and the BSA found themselves defending their Scout Oath and Law with people expressing that "you're making them into warmongers because you teach them how to shoot weapons".

  • In the 70s, it was the fear that kids who engaged in drugs would become zombies and therefore "they need to be housed far away from the rest of us" and "we can't have women to be Scoutmasters -- they would molest our boys and camps would become sex havens".

  • In the 80s, it was HIV/AIDS, Swine Flu, and the fact that some families chose not to vaccinate their children and homeschooling became more of a suburban option and less of a rural necessity.

  • In the 90s, it was the fear that the world as we knew it was going to implode, explode, or simply many of us would not see the end of the century as we were to be taken Heavenly.

  • In the 2000s, it was the fear that those "gay people" are going to "turn us all into their way of life and our kids will turn out the same way".

Now, in the 2010s we have young people literally "living on the 'net ". In ALL of those cases, the Boy Scouts of America took the lead, provided living examples based upon the simple Scout Oath and Law (which has not changed a bit since 1909, when it was written and approved), and help move the nation Forward.

The BSA first started by placing everyone on the same "cornerstone". In the early 2000s, they announced that ALL of their programs will abandon promises, oaths and laws used for some 40 or 50 years -- the Cub Scout's Promise and Law of the Pack. The Explorer Pledge later to become the Oath. The Varsity Pledge. Everyone will subscribe to and use the Scout Oath or Promise and the 12 Scout Laws. It was met with a lot of second-thinking. "My son is only 8. I am really sure that he cannot remember the Scout Oath like his 14 year old brother can". Over time, we have youth repeating -- not completely but close to it -- the Scout Oath or Promise and the 12 Scout Laws; and by the time they are Boy Scouts, they could repeat it from memory.

Then, we changed the uniforms so that girls and boys, men and women, would have little to no problem wearing it if they choose to be identified as BSA members. We started with Venturing and Exploring, because it is the only co-ed program we have. We learned a LOT from Exploring and Venturing, and much of that has went into to how the BSA is now moving ahead with what is being called "the Family Scouting Initiviate."

Here's how the BSA envisions this to work, starting in January of 2018:

- A "cold start" will allow some BSA local Councils to enroll girls into the CUB SCOUTING program in grades K-4. These "early adopters" have been self-selected by local Councils and approved by the BSA. Girls will be registered as members of existing Cub Scout Packs, selected because of the size, strength of program, and willingness to participate. Girls will be members of all-female Dens within the Pack; there will be no "mixing" of boys and girls in the same Den. The program, however, is identical, uses the same books and materials, they will earn the same rank and awards, and be able to participate in any Cub Scouting activity outside the Pack if their family chooses to do so. The BSA will gather data and feedback from these "early adopters" to use over the next "gate".

- When school starts in your community in late summer/early fall, ALL BSA local Councils will allow girls to be enrolled into the CUB SCOUTING program in all grades (K-5). Girls will be allowed to be registered as members of existing Cub Scout Packs or as part of new all-girl Cub Scout Packs. Again, there will be no "mixing" of boys and girls in the same Den. The program, will be exactly the same, uses the same books and materials, and they will earn the same rank and awards, and be able to participate in Cub Scouting activities outside the Pack if their family chooses to do so. At the same time, girls who meet the requirement/exceptions for being registered as Lone Cub Scouts will be accepted by those local Councils which provide Lone Scouting -- just like the boys. The BSA will gather data and feedback from this experience to use over the next "gate".

- On 1 Feburary 2019, the BSA will open the doors for girls to be registered as members of Scout Troops chartered to existing or new partner organizations. Like with Cub Scouting, girls will become members of female youth-only Troops but unlike Cub Scouting they will NOT be part of existing male youth-only Troops. In other words there will NOT be "male patrols" and "female patrols" in the same Troop. At the same time, girls who meet the requirement/exceptions for being registered as Scouts will be accepted by those local Councils which provide Lone Scouting -- just like the boys. The implementation will be using the data, experience and feedback from Cub Scout Packs, chartered partner organizations, adult volunteers and field professionals as time moves forward.

There was much open discussion on what we would call the organizations which will house girls. They too will be called "Troops" and we would once again refer to ALL youth members in our Boy Scouting program as simply "Scouts", as in "members of Scout Troop 000" without the word "boy" prefacing it. Troops housing female youth have the option of using a different Troop number or using the same Troop number as their male counterparts simply have a different local unit number. This does not present a problem or issue at all, especially if a chartered organization desires to host both a male and female Troop -- they are ALL "Troop 999" and the only differences will be administratively at the local Council office. It's simple, it is traditionally what we were going to do if we carried on with the transformation and consolidation of our programs with the Girl Scouts of the USA's programs back in the early 70s -- we called our youth in Boy Scouting "Scouts" and the adults "Scouters".

The impact to Lone Scouting is simple: we will have the IDENTICAL program to what has been used in many Councils for male youth for decades, by allowing girls and their families to become Lone Cub Scouts and Lone Scouts if they and their family meet one of the previously established "exceptions" why they cannot join a traditional Cub Scout Pack or Scout Troop (or cannot organize a new Pack or Troop in their community). "They won't let us in because she's a girl" is NOT a reason to become a Lone Cub Scout or Lone Scout.

So here we are. The Boy Scouts of America will start admitting girls -- and their FAMILIES -- into their programs within the next two years. Before kicking and yelling "this isn't fair", how about letting the plan as it was explained above work first.

It really depends on a lot of elements...some which I've outlined here. If you want to place your daughter, granddaughter, or other female youth in the BSA's Lone Scouting program, please wait it out until the BSA has all of the details as far as Lone Scouting is concerned worked out. In the meantime, there is nothing which prevents you and your family from getting a Cub Scout or Boy Scout handbook and together working on many of the things found in them while waiting. Whether registered or not, this is a GREAT time to be a young person in the United States of America!

Family Scouting Info
BSA Info