Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Boy Scouts Admitting Girls

        As you probably have already heard, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will be opening their programs to girls at all levels.  Supposedly, the BSA Varsity and Venturing programs for teens 14 to 18 was already open to girls, but this change opens all levels--from Cub Scouts on up, including the opportunity to earn an Eagle Award--to girls. However, at least at the Cub Scout level, the packs and/or dens will remain single gender. Presumably this will also apply to the Boy Scout groups as well.

       A couple reactions from others. First, since the articles indicate that the vote to admit girls was made unanimously by BSA's Board of Directors, and the LDS Church has a seat at that Board, I presume that the Church is fine with the planned change. According to an article from the Deseret News:
"The Activity Days and Personal Progress programs of the church have long been in place to meet the needs of girls and young women in these age groups, and no change will be made in church programs," said LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins.
So, I don't see any changes to Church sponsored scouting groups.

       According to the same Deseret News article cited above, the Girl Scouts of America have criticized the change, saying that BSA's overtures to girls is a terrible idea. Of course, this is probably because the two organizations will now be competing for the same demographic, and the BSA doesn't make its Scouts sell cookies.

       Vox Day, of course, sees this as another example of convergence in a heretofore conservative organization, and a natural progression of the BSA's admission of homosexual and transgender boys and allowance for homosexual scout leaders. He cynically (or realistically, depending on your point of view) adds:
You can be absolutely certain that after the initial rush of girls to join the Boy Scouts, the number of youth members and volunteers will begin to drop even more precipitously than it has already; membership is down 63 percent since it peaked in 1972. 
        My own thoughts are as follows: I agree with the Girl Scouts in their assessment that this is a move primarily motivated by money. The Scouts have seen a loss of membership due to their moving to the left and becoming more politically correct. Although it is not clear to me whether the BSA's changing stances on homosexuals motivated the LDS Church leaders to reduce their involvement in Scouting, or whether it was pressure from an increasing overseas membership, the fact remains that the LDS Church has essentially abandoned Scouting for the over-14 teens and will likely withdraw from the lower levels of Scouting in future years. (From my experience, Scouting pretty much ended in the Church when the boys reached 14 anyway, so the Church paying dues for the boys after that age was mostly just a windfall to the BSA in any event). I would not be surprised if some other large denominations also pull their support for the BSA. The end result is that the BSA is going to see its numbers plummet in the next few years, and is grasping at this as a means of keeping itself afloat.

       But Vox Day is also correct. Scouting has become increasingly "feminized" over the last several decades, trading field craft skills for "environmental" or "global citizen" feel good merit badges; outdoor skills for "video gaming." The BSA chose the praises of the masses over its members religious and moral objections. Although the current plan would, on the surface, still maintain a space just for boys, the overall thrust is to eliminate another refuge for boys from the feminine.

       Even without all this, though, I suspect that Scouting was doomed to change because of the changes to the world. I'm not just talking about the push to admit girls into what were traditionally boys activities, or the urbanization of the population, but changes in the job market. Where today are you going to find men willing and able to sacrifice an evening per week, and a weekend per month, and a week or two every year, to serve as Scout leaders? American men work longer hours and take less vacation than they did during the heyday of Scouting, and they simply are not available. It has been particularly problematic in the LDS Church (at least in my experience) because the Church assigns members to serve as the scout leaders, rather than seeking volunteers. So, combine busy work schedules with indifference, and the whole program suffers.


  1. I live in the media market where the BSA headquarters are located. Very recently they have started running radio advertisements to recruit kids into Scouting. Funny thing is, the advertisements I'm hearing are on an all-news AM radio station. The first few advertisements I heard were run before the girls-in-Scouting announcement. Just from those advertisements, I knew they were looking for additional revenue.

    1. One of the comments to the Deseret News article I cited mentioned that odd coincidence in the timing of the announcement: just after the end of the annual "Friends of Scouting" fund drive.