Photo provided by Rylee Kirk
When people think of Girl Scouts, they think of cookies. Their stomach grumbles, thinking of the delicious mint-chocolate flavor of a Thin Mint on their tongue. A Samoas’ caramel coconut scent fills their nose, but they do not think of the girls and women empowered by those cookies.
My mother forced me to join the Girl Scouts 15 years ago. I was a shy, scared 5-year-old who never spoke to my peers, or raised my hand in class. I was the youngest child in my neighborhood so when the older girls would come to our door to sell cookies, I would stand behind my mother’s legs and ogle their khaki vests, covered proudly in pins and badges.
After my first Daisy Girl Scout meeting, I was excited. I was proud to be a Girl Scout. At the end of the Scouting year I was no longer nervous. I would raise my hand, ask questions and participate. I introduced myself to people in the checkout line at the grocery store. I did not know it then, but I was feeling empowered.
As I grew older my Girl Scout experience enabled me to sing, dance and speak in front of crowds as large as 5,000. I gained the ability to lead girls who were older and younger than me through programs and tours. I traveled to Washington D.C, flew a plane, volunteered, camped, shot a gun and lead several camps for other girls. Even my first job was through Girl Scouts as a tour and program guide at the Girl Scout First Headquarters museum.
On Oct. 11, 2017, the International Day of The Girl, The Boy Scouts of America announced girls would be able to join Boy Scouts. When I read the numerous articles, I felt like I had been slapped in the face.
The Boy Scouts of America’s decision results from a lack of direction from the national office. Instead of changing the program and focusing on the many problems the Boy Scouts already face, they are deciding to avoid the issues by creating even more problems.
There is no need for the Boy Scouts to include girls. Girl Scouting already exists for us. Besides, there are already girls in Boy Scouting in the form of additional programs like Venture Scouts and Sea Scouts. Girls are able to join these crews and there is a way for girls to be involved.
Part of the Boy Scouts argument is that now “Scouting will be available for the whole family.” Scouting is already available for the whole family. Boys, and some girls, can go to Boy Scouting or Venture. All Girls can go to Girl Scouting. This comment is a blatant insult to the Girl Scout Movement.
When Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in England in 1910, he hadn’t expected the numerous amounts girls to secretly join. In response, he asked his sister Agnes to help him with a solution. Agnes and Juliette Gordon Low helped to found Girl Guiding. Low returned to her home in Savannah, Georgia and founded the Girl Scouts. Needless to say, neither founder would be happy with today’s decision.
But, Girl Scouting and Boy Scouting has always differed. Low wanted girls to have skills. In the early 1910’s the girls learned knots, Morse code, first aide and riflery.
Girls started to learn skills that would better enable them to enter the workforce. During the Space Race, girls visited NASA. Martin Luther King Jr. called the Girl Scouts “A force for desegregation.”
They assisted with Army recruit training, and now there is a concentration on STEM badges. With these diverse opportunities, Girl Scouts wants to make sure that every girl can achieve her dreams.
But many still complain that Girl Scouts don’t do what the Boy Scouts do. Personally, this confuses me.
I was a member of Troop 30519, in Historic Georgia Council. We would tell our troop leader what we wanted to do, we camped when we wanted to camp, and I have friends who hiked part of the Appalachian Trail with their troops.
Even from the very beginning, Low always stressed the importance of doing what the individual girls said they wanted to do.
When people complain that they “did not do the same activities as the Boy Scouts,” it is often seen that Girl Scouts do not partake in the same sort of “high adventure” as the Boy Scouts. If that is what a former member wished to do, then they should have voiced their wishes.
With the new inclusion, girls will be able to earn the Eagle Scout award by 2019, but Girl Scouting already has an equivalent honor , the Gold Award. It is just as prestigious as the Eagle Award and requires a number of prerequisites before creating and completing an 80-hour sustainable project. Both the Eagle and Gold are recognized in the same ways by the government. If you earn either one, you’re automatically a rank—and pay grade—above in the military.
Perhaps if the Gold Award was as well known as the Eagle Scout Award, then there would be no need for girls to earn an Eagle, and there would be even less of a reason for girls to join the Boy Scouts.
The Boy Scouts are running away from their problems. The official Girl Scout statement said, “The Boy Scout’s house is on fire,” and I wholeheartedly agree.
The organization has countless issues with sexual assault and finance management that they do not seem to be concerned with fixing, nor are they focusing on recruiting the other 90% of American boys not involved with Boy Scouting.
In an effort to combat declining membership numbers, the organization decided to allow homosexual scouts in 2013.
This sudden decision to allow girls is just another attempt to reverse the declining membership numbers. By widening their audience they are allowing this “house fire” to grow even larger and to spread, which isn’t good for boys or girls.