Scouting magazine

From the CSE: Opening Possibilities

I firmly believe the values of Scouting are important for everyone, regardless of gender. Last year, when our national board unanimously voted to open our legacy programs to both boys and girls, I was incredibly proud knowing that this decision would allow us to bring the transformational power of our programs to more young people.

This change started very simply: Scouting families asked us to bring our unique approach to character and leadership development to their entire families. For years, we had heard stories of families whose daughters were participating in Cub Scouting unofficially by “shadowing” their brothers, and many young women participating in our other programs had expressed interest in Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting. The time came to address this. From the very start, our primary goal was to better serve the entire family and meet their evolving needs.

We considered a number of program structures, weighed the research on coed and single-gender programs, studied what parents want out of youth programs and established a rigorous process to find a solution that suited our community. Most important, we evaluated the educational validity of our legacy curriculum for young women. Top educators and the Scouting community overwhelmingly answered “yes” when asked if the legacy program curriculums were relevant to both boys and girls.

Once we had an approach in mind, we shared our possible direction with the BSA’s professional staff. All agreed that it was worth discussing with volunteers. Upon sharing the idea with 1,000 top volunteer leaders from nearly every council in America, 93 percent of them voted to open the discussion to the rest of the volunteers in our organization. We then went to Scouting families, asking our local councils to host town hall meetings across the country, and more than 11,000 members of our movement responded. The vast majority said they were in favor of inviting girls and young women to join.

Knowing they had the organization’s support, our board took a vote and unanimously ushered in a new era for our organization.

So, how’s it going so far? To date, we’ve already seen great success in incorporating girls into Cub Scouting through our Early Adopter program, and I look forward to that trend continuing as councils across the nation welcome girls this fall and we open Scouts BSA to older girls in 2019. Thanks to this decision, more young people will learn life skills that will empower them to take on challenges with greater resilience. I fervently believe in the strength of our programs and their ability to change lives. By expanding the program to more youth, we ensure that families of the present and the future will have an even stronger connection to the values we hold dear and that more young people are Prepared. For Life.

Yours in Scouting,

Michael Surbaugh 

Chief Scout Executive