Boy Scouts expand to let girls join and earn Eagle Scout rank

Boy Scouts of America announces it will allow girls to join

Boy Scouts announce historic change to start admitting girls in 2018

"The values of Scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, courageous and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women", said Chief Scouting Executive Michael Surbaugh.

A BSA statement the decision to include girls comes after years of requests from parents, after researching the issue, and after gathering input form current BSU members and leaders.

11 that its board unanimously voted to start welcoming girls into its Cub Scout program in a historic change starting in 2018. Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a mixed gender pack, or remain an all-boy pack.

Under the plan, Cub Scout dens - the smallest unit - will be single-gender, either all-boys or all-girls.

Cub Scouts are in first to fifth grade, and a more expanded program for pre-teen and teen girls is expected to be rolled out in 2019, according to the press release. "Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing", the BSA statement said.

The organization has been primarily for boys since it was founded more than 100 years ago.

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Girls are now part of four scouting programs - Venturing and Sea Scouting, geared toward outdoor activities; Exploring, a career-oriented mentoring program; and STEM, focusing on science and math.

A spokesperson for the Girl Scouts told BuzzFeed News in August that it was a "potentially risky and bad idea" for the Boy Scouts to include girls. But those programs have not offered a path to Eagle Scout for girls. Leaders can decided if they want to form a den for boys or den for girls.

"I just want to do what the Boy Scouts do - earn the merit badges and earn the Eagle Award", she told NBC News.

Both organizations have been rocked by a steady decline in membership.

Boy Scouts of America has about 2.3 million youth members between the ages of 7 and 21 and about 960,000 volunteers in the United States and its territories.

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