Boy Scouts of America has been accused of “poaching” membership from The Girl Scouts of the USA. The Boy Scouts have suffered a 60-percent decline in membership over the last few years. The exodus from the organization will culminate at the end of this year when The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, one of the larger troop sponsors, will no longer affiliate with the Boy Scouts. This is expected to reduce membership to less than 2 million.
My father is an Eagle Scout. I’m married to an Eagle Scout, and I have dozens of other family, friends, and acquaintances who are affiliated with the BSA program. After reaching out to these men, they all expressed disappointment in the decision to include girls in the program.
They aren’t misogynists trying to keep women down, they are good men who hold strong moral values and are struggling with the decisions of an organization they have given much to, and received much from in return.
Mike Rowe, best known as the host of ‘Dirty Jobs’, has been a supporter of the Boy Scouts. He attributes many of his formative learning and maturing experiences to his involvement with the group.
He entered scouts as a socially awkward, shy, insecure boy and eventually evolved into the confident and skillful man he is today. Boy Scouts provided an appropriate environment that challenged him and forced him out of his comfort zone.
The men I know all expressed a similar experience. That is why they are worried, and some even ashamed, of the changes. The Boy Scouts is an incubator. You place a fledgling boy in the program and set it at the right temperature. Then, after the appropriate amount of time, he hatches and graduates the program as a man of character.
Allowing girls into the organization fundamentally changes the program. The incubator wasn’t designed to grow young girls into women. The conditions required to do that are not the same.
Allowing girls to participate in the same activities and having equal requirements to advance helps them feel empowered and not inferior to their male friends.
But why is there so much outside pressure for the Boy Scouts to make these ‘progressive’ changes when other programs already exist to serve this purpose? Or better yet, if there really is such a high demand for a female version of the Boy Scouts, where are all the strong and talented women who are more than capable of starting their own program?
Growing up surrounded by men who were in the Boy Scouts, I never once felt I was being deprived or excluded.
When I was younger, and the boys went to Scouts, I went to an alternative program specifically tailored to help me grow as a woman. When I got older, I understood that the Boy Scouts was a private organization that was meant for boys. I was able to see what the program did for the boys that I knew and was glad that something like this existed to help them navigate their youth.
As a mother, I want organizations like this to exist so my son can be a part of something that will support him during his childhood. Organizations that have morals and stand up for their beliefs are few and far between. I am troubled by the social pressure that requires every program and organization to change their structure and culture in the name of inclusion.
Our young girls can get the benefits that a program like the Boy Scouts offer without needing to be a part of that program, without demanding that the program change its structure and culture to include them.
From a business perspective it makes sense. With dwindling Boy Scout enrollment, why wouldn’t you reach out and include the other 50 percent of the population to bolster your ranks? But when you take away the very thing that defines an organization, you lose the purpose behind what the organization is trying to accomplish.
The Boy Scouts was founded with the purpose of molding young boys into men. Women should celebrate that such an organization exists and has strong values that actually produces men of character.
If the existence of the Boy Scouts without girls bothers you, then start your alternative program and make it so much better that those last 2 million Boys Scouts will want to complete the exodus and join with you.
Carly Roes is a middle child and has a fine-tuned sense of justice. A mother of two and master of none, she enjoys her experience one day at a time.