SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–For the first time in the Boy Scouts of America’s century old history, girls can earn the organization’s prestigious Eagle Scout honor.
Before, girls could participate in certain programs within the organization, but could never earn credit toward the medal.
Beginning in the fall of 2018, the Cub Scouts will accept girls and the following year the Boy Scouts will accept girls, but the programs won’t be co-ed.
“I’m excited, I’ve been waiting for this for a very long time,” says Kailey Smith.
For the past two years, 12-year-old Kailey Smith has written letters to Boy Scouts National requesting that girls be given the same opportunities as boys in the organization. Now she can’t wait to get started.
“I’m excited about earning merit badges and earning golds and earning new skills,” says Smith.
Her mother is just as thrilled about the convenience of her son and daughter being able to participate in activities at one location.
“It’s a one-stop-shop for us now so that we can provide a program for both boys and girls so that the families can scout together,” says Angie Smith.
“I was excited to know that we would be able to provide programming to the whole family,” says John Feick.
Scout executive John Feick understands the reasons why girls are interested in his organization.
“They want to do what their brothers have done or what their older brothers have done, but outdoors, high adventure programming that scouting offers is I think a big part of a driver on that,” says Feick.
While girls will be able to join the Boy Scouts organization, some things will remain the same.
“What this change will do is it will have programming for both boys and girls so they’ll be groups of Boys Cub Scouts and then they’ll be groups of Girl Cub Scouts and they’ll function separately, but will be under the same umbrella. This is not a program where we’re going to have both boys and girls in the same groups functioning in the same programming. It won’t be co-ed,” says Feick.
As for how the Girl Scouts feel about the latest announcement, communications manager Lori Enyart says the organization will continue to do what it’s always done.
“This decision changes nothing for us. We continue to be the best choice for girls. Our program has an over 100 year proven track record of providing the best leadership opportunities for girls and by girls,” says Enyart.
“What we’re experiencing is probably a changing world,” says Feick.
Kailey will officially be able to join the Boy Scouts of America in 2019 when she’s 14-years-old.