October 19, 2017
After years of ferocious popcorn vs. cookie selling competition, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recently announced their intention to allow girls to join and even obtain the rank of Eagle Scout.
I disagree with this decision, for I believe that girls thrive when they are in programs designed by and for females. I say this as someone who was a Girl Scout for 13 years. I supplemented my active involvement during the school year with summers at both Girl Scout sleep-away and day camps, where I eventually became a camp counselor as a teen.
“I’ve seen nothing that develops leadership skills and discipline like this organization. It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls,” says BSA’s national president, Randall Stephenson.
However, I don’t think the BSA are motivated by high-minded aspirations of gender equality—I think they’re losing members and money, so they’re recruiting girls.
As for allowing girls to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout, that’s practically a disservice. The Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor an Ambassador can earn, is actually harder to achieve than an Eagle because the purpose of the project is to implement a sustainable program, not just do a one-time community service project.
Personally, the highest level of scouting I reached was a Girl Scout Ambassador, meaning I continued with scouting until I was a senior in high school.
I earned my Girl Scout Silver Award, and attempted the Gold Award (a 2,900 mile move across the country and the dissolving of my troop caused it to not work out).
Nonetheless, I focused on the promotion of childhood literacy and completed two gently used children’s book drives, yielding more than 3,750 books to benefit school-age child care programs, including those who had been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Because of Girl Scouts, I was given the opportunity to challenge myself to make the world a better place, an experience not available to everyone.
Girl Scouts are all about empowering girls from kindergarten through adulthood—shaping tomorrow’s female leaders and entrepreneurs.
It offers girls a safe place to talk about current-day issues, as well as have fun and make friends.
And to those who think that Boy Scouts offers a more “outdoorsy” or “daring” experience—I had plenty of adventurous excursions as a Girl Scout, from hiking part of the Appalachian Trail (and hitting my head on a rock) to cooking over an outdoor fire pit (disturbing a yellow jacket nest and being stung multiple times in the process).
Boy Scouts have come a long way in their inclusivity, but they also have a long way to go. They only recently gave up their homophobic stance, while Girl Scouts are more progressive and have never been known to discriminate.
Girl Scouts have always been inclusive with regard to ability and sexual orientation of both scouts and leaders.
Girl Scouts will remain strong— strength is embedded in our communities as long as we keep supporting it. I am proud to be a former Girl Scout. I want to keep it led by strong female role models who prepare girls for a lifetime of leadership. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get dirty in the same way Boy Scouts do.
Erin Fox is a junior marketing major and the News Editor for The Santa Clara.