That’s me. The one in the middle of my cub scout den, pretending to fire an invisible rifle.
Boy Scouting has been an integral part in my life for as long as I can remember; I joined Cub Scouts in 3rd grade, convinced by my friend Mike as we waited to enter our grade school one morning. My Cub Scout den (Cub Scouts is K-5) consisted of a lot friends I had already met prior to joining. These friends became my brothers as I grew up. This was such a long time ago, but I remember so much about everything, including:
Den meetings at Mr. Martin’s house. This is like a squad meeting. Yes, we made miniature catapults that shot marshmallows, created a AA battery light, and we even went to the town park for good conduct one day. I should have gotten two scoops of ice cream instead of one.
Pack meetings at the grade school I went to. This is like the battalion meeting, where all the squads meet up. We had pinewood derby races, threw pies in the faces of our adult leaders, and planned for campouts.
Campouts, which was not really camping. Most of the time, we went to the summer camp at Camp Freeland Leslie, (This was a camp up in Wisconsin) Wilderness Water Park, (In the Wisconsin Dells) or day events like volunteering for the food pantry. This was all good fun.
I eventually crossed the literal bridge into Boy Scouts, and I spent my middle school and high school years as a Boy Scout from Troop 43 in Batavia, IL. I even earned the Eagle Scout rank before I graduated from high school.
On October 11, 2017, the Boy Scouts of America released an announcement that the organization will allow girls to join the ranks of Boy Scouts, which will allow them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, just as I did.
So, what do I think about the integration of girls in Boy Scouting?
I think it is a fantastic idea.
As stated before, Boy Scouting was such an important part of my life, and it makes me so happy to see it become more inclusive. I believe that girls should get the same opportunities that guys get when they are young adults. By doing so, it opens so many doors for young women to participate in their community and become better people in general.
For example, I used to work at Camp Freeland Leslie when I was in high school. The staff is co-ed. A lot of the females on staff would have benefited from being in Boy Scouts, as working at the camp is very beneficial for a boy scouter’s career. A lot of them would have been great scouts, but due to the barriers of gender, they could not be involved in boy scouting outside of camp the same way a guy could.
The official announcement states that, in 2018, “families can choose to sign up their sons and daughters for Cub Scouts. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls.” This to me is the best of both worlds; a co-ed organization, but still a focus on a single gender when it needs to be. I think the new changes do not interfere with much at all, and I believe the integration of new female scouts will be a smooth one.
When I was a young kid, Cub Scouting gave me a lot of purpose to become a better person. I was still a stupid grade schooler, but I remember learning basic manners, citizenship in the community, and how to disseminate to a group of people. Those developed as I got older. I think that, for a young woman, that exposure and opportunity is incredibly important for producing good citizens of the community.
The idea that girls are able to join the “Boy Scouts of America” does sound quite contradictory to the title, but I believe that gender means little in the organization’s modern goals. The goal for Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the scout law and the scout oath. These values are not gender specific, and I am glad that the BSA realized this.
I can see it now; a new generation of young women who grow up in a similar scouting environment to my own. It makes me happy that girls will get this opportunity as well, and I hope that they too make marshmallow catapults at a friend’s house during a den meeting.
Hello, Matt Cuartero here. I am a Computer Science major here at UIC, and I do my best to publish articles every Thursday. No guarantees though. I am a reservist in the US Navy, and my favorite item in the world is my copy of The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.