Parents of school age children know the importance of extracurricular activities for kids. Sports, arts, music, dance, religion, math, science, language and self defense programs and other activities are abundant in Placer County. The value of participation transcends the direct subject matter as lessons in socialization, teamwork, self discipline, responsibility, and character development are often holistically included in the curricula.
For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America has served local communities by providing wholesome youth programs at minimal cost to participants, largely due to the tireless efforts of parents and other interested volunteers at the local level. The two most well-known programs are the Cub Scouts for boys from first-grade through the middle of fifth-grade and Boy Scouts for boys from the middle of fifth-grade until their 18th birthday.
The tradition of scouting in our Placer County communities is very strong. However, in the past few years, the Boy Scouts of America has been in the news for controversial stances. Now, its recent decision to begin the process of opening more programs to both sexes once again lands the organization in the lap of controversy.
Indeed, concerns for the loss of venerable male-focused traditions are real and concerns for the effect on local Girl Scout programs are important but the Boy Scouts’ latest evolution is very good.
In the 100-plus years since the founding of the Boy Scouts of America, the world has changed, mostly for the better. In that time, civil rights have advanced and women have been recognized with the right to vote and have become part of our military front lines serving alongside men.
Dissected by its activities, there is nothing that the boys are doing in scouting that girls can’t do along with them. As a society, isn’t it better if more of our youth are given the choice to participate in proven programs that teach them to Be Prepared, and to Do a Good Turn Daily? Observe the Scout Law: “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent” – but not necessarily male.
Realistically, some Cub Scout Packs have been encouraging participation from the whole family for many years. Sisters have been allowed and encouraged to attend camping trips and pack and den meetings, often enjoying the same activities and learning the same lessons alongside their brothers.
How wonderful would it be for outdoor-minded girls to fully and officially benefit from all that the Boy Scout programs have to offer? How enriching would it be for the boys to have girls with similar interests side by side with them? Would this help in each sex better understanding the other? Would this help with greater respect and tolerance between the sexes as these kids become adults? Is this relevant and important in our society today? We believe so.
We also believe the Boy Scouts is approaching this issue carefully and considerately. We believe that some of the cherished male-only traditions will be respected and represented in the evolution of the programs. We believe the Girl Scout program and Boy Scout program are different, each with its own important appeal. The Girl Scout program is vital and relevant for those so inclined, and we hope that it will continue to thrive. Most importantly, isn’t the choice of participation better defined by interest than by gender?
We congratulate the Boy Scouts for taking this courageous step forward to expand the scouting benefits to so many more young people and look forward to positive impacts in our Placer County communities in the years to come.
– Gold Country Media Editorial Board, Colfax Record