She can wear it starting today! Elly,12, shows a red & gold neckerchief. Riegner & her mom were looking at various colors & designs at their local Council's Scout Shop (TM) for their new all-girls troop. (Katie Blackley/WESA photo)
The first word came from a Scouter living on the Pacific's Guam island and shared via Facebook(TM): "We did it!!" he exclaimed electronically, followed by a photo of a certificate signed by the Aloha Council's Scout Executive and a couple of photos of a smiling young lady. "The FIRST female Scout registered in the Aloha Council!"
As far as I'm aware, she's also the first of some projected 70 thousand young ladies (and 20 or so young men) who will become members of Scouts BSA today. The official numbers won't be released for a few weeks, as it does take some time to calculate and tabulate those numbers and funnel them to the Boy Scouts of America's national offices in North Texas.
As I've stated several dozen times (and as the Boy Scouts of America has been beating a heavy drum for several months now), the Boy Scouts of America -- BSA for short -- will continue to exist as a national youth-serving organization under its own name. The BSA has a long history of inclusion, to include starting this morning (February 1, 2019) the inclusion of female youth in their most recognizable program formerly called "Boy Scouting." In order to do this and to prepare themselves for the future of youth service, the BSA changed the name of that program from "Boy Scouts" to "Scouts BSA" (no hyphen, no slash, no initials between the letters "B" "S" and "A". Just Scouts BSA).
Call them "Scouts" for short. We've been doing that for decades. This, like the reasoning for bringing females into its -- and the BSA's Cub Scouting -- programs, is simply to do what we've been previously doing "under the radar" or "on the down-low" to the bright sunny air while not hiding in the past "just between all us chickens."
As a former Scoutmaster, I had what the BSA called "tag-a-longs" -- the daughters or female cousins of adults registered or who were parents of my male Scouts. Many other Scoutmasters of popular Troops had the same. They came along with their families or male family members camping, swimming, b-b gun shooting, caroling, planting trees and flowers, selling hamburgers, fries, and drinks, and engaged in games like Capture the Flag or British Bulldog. The same kinds of things they would do without the "Scout cover" in their neighborhoods or at school or Sunday School.
They also got to pay attention as various men and women came to our meetings and introduced them to their careers, or studies or hobby interests. "Scout Stuff," not school stuff or stuff from a book. They got to hear, see, touch and in some cases smell "Scouting."
The only thing was, while doing the "Scout stuff" the males got to come up each quarter and receive various awards and were publically recognized for their service, leadership, and work -- the girls got to do nothing but sit, clap and wish if not out loud perhaps in a prayer to God that evening before sleeping that "I want to do those things AND get credit for what I did. Not a pat on the head or shoulder -- but a real handshake and a "thank you" and perhaps a patch to show my friends!"
The BSA fixed this officially two years ago and implemented a timeline which started today for older girls (younger girls have been members of the BSA's Cub Scouting program since last summer with little to no issues). Starting this morning, several thousand girls may, if they want to and with the help of many others, work toward that same First Class rank and later toward that Eagle Scout rank as males have been doing since 1908 or so.
Families are excited. Girls and boys are excited. Local BSA Councils are excited. Even the national center is excited -- they are throwing an "event party" today online. A couple of thousand visitors are viewing the parade of female and male youth standing and waving to those viewing while expressing their hopes for what the program will do for them.
We are also all scared. They are scared that after all of the hoopla is over this weekend, that the luster of being part of the "first female Troops" will fall away and be replaced with some of the same things which have bothered male Troops for decades. Little to no community support. Not enough confidence in what Scouts can do, as opposed to what "their grandfathers" or "fathers" did. Competition between Troops to have the "first" to do this or that or the other thing. Envy. Jealousy. Outright phobias and stereotypical stupidity on the parts of adults (not youth).
The BSA is responding to those concerns by encouraging their volunteers -- new and old alike -- to participate in training and in-service programs (we call them "Roundtables") so that over time, those issues plaguing Troops can be resolved and a better understanding of what Scouting is supposed to be about -- not just the earning of badges or the attendance at special events; but rather the citizenship, leadership development, personal character and fitness development within each youth member (Leadership development is a new stated aim of the BSA -- even though we've been doing that for decades also...)
So here we are!! Scouts BSA is here, and other than a name change, the Boy Scouts of America will continue to do its best to assist with the development of youth -- boys AND girls -- through ALL of its programs and program options!
Once again for emphasis sake, because some media outlets are ALREADY "messing it up": The BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA (BSA for short) is the federally chartered national youth-serving organization for youth in the United States. Their name, which was established this month back in 1910, has NOT changed and WILL NOT CHANGE.
The program *within the BSA* which since 1908 or so was called "Boy Scouts" and "Boy Scouting" simply has dropped the "Boy" from the program's title and added the Boy Scouts of America's initials at the end (trademark and copyright reasons only) -- it is now, starting today, called Scouts BSA (no slash or dash between the two; no "dots" between the letters B S and A). Youth involved in Scouts BSA are referred to simply as "Scouts" -- and if there needs to be a gender reason, they are referred to as "male Scouts" and "female Scouts."
The BSA's programs are called "Cub Scouts," "Scouts BSA," "Venturing," "Sea Scouting," "Exploring" and "STEM Scouts."
More information on Scouts BSA can be found at the BSA's official website, http://www.scouting.org