Local Scouts React To Boy Scouts Rule Change Allowing Girls

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The decision has been made -- and it's a good one -- but there's plenty of work to be done before girls begin to join the ranks of Boy Scouts, two local Scout leaders said Sunday.

The Boy Scouts of America announced the landmark initiative Wednesday, choosing to regularly admit females into its groups for the first time since its founding in 1910. The decision was unanimously approved by the Boy Scouts board of directors and met with mostly positive reactions and a few concerns from local Scout leaders.

Girls will -- under the new guidelines -- be able to join as Cub Scouts and work their way through the ranks, culminating with the opportunity to reach Eagle Scout status.

Keith Boudreau, troop leader of Our Lady of the Lake's Troop 12 in Leominster, said Sunday that details of the ruling will be worked out over the next year before taking effect. But he believes it's a long time coming for such a move.

"There are plenty of times when you'd see a kid signing up and his little sister would be standing by saying, 'Why can't I do that?' This puts them under the same banner," Boudreau said.

He added that the proposed changes would still keep girls in all-female dens for Cub Scouts before likely moving them into co-ed packs for Boy Scouts.

"I have no strong objections to it," said Jim Parker, leader of Troop 1728 in Lunenburg. "The Boy Scouts already have the venturing program, which accepts boys and girls from 14 to 20.

And I don't see an issue with girls attaining Eagle Scout status, either. They're learning a set of skills and doing work."

The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. organization has said it intends to continue its single-gender groupings and had attempted to dissuade the Boy Scouts from changing, contending that a major reason for the move was to boost revenue.

"I think this provides another opportunity for girls and young ladies to learn something different," Parker said. "I know the Girl Scouts aren't pleased with it, but they have their program and we have ours. In theory, a girl could take part in both."

One area that needs to be addressed, according to Boudreau, is the logistics of bringing in a large number of new members, regardless of gender.

"We're going to get all these girls joining, which is great for them, but it creates the need for more den and pack leaders," Boudreau said. "If a parent is happy that their girl is getting in, they should take a look at the opportunity to lead, as well."

Boudreau noted that all troop leaders are certified through youth protection training annually and adding a second gender to the Boy Scouts could add a wrinkle to that training.

"It's another completely different dynamic," he said.

As the Boy Scouts finalize plans for integration and details emerge, things will become a bit clearer, Parker said.

"Right now, we just have to wait and see how things will work," he said. "There hasn't been too much said outside of how things will work with Cub Scouts, so there's still work to be done."

Source : http://www.sentinelandenterprise.com/news/ci_31379071/local-boy-scout-leaders-praise-rule-change-allow

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