Boy Scouts of America to include girls

Boy and Girl Scouts from all over SCV, along with Santa Clarita's Young Marines and Valencia High School's ROTC Cadets participated in Eternal Valley's annual flag placement event. Over 7,000 US Flags were placed at every Veteran's grave. Bill Reynolds/The Signal

The Boy Scouts of America is not just for boys anymore.

After a unanimous vote by the group’s board of directors, the Boy Scouts will accept girls in their Cub Scout program for seven to 10-year-olds beginning in 2018, a decision made after years of requests to do so, the organization said.

The group will also provide a scouting program for older girls to allow them to advance to Eagle Scout starting in 2019.

“We strive to bring what our organization does best – developing character and leadership for young people – to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders,” BSA’s Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said in a statement.

Boys and girls will still be divided into separate dens, but can be in co-ed packs made up of dens with different sexes.

Santa Clarita local Todd Wilson said he looks forward to the opportunities this will provide for both of his children.

“As an Eagle Scout, I can say I’ve never been more proud of the growth that Boy Scouts has achieved recently,” Wilson said. “I’m thankful that I’ll have a chance to welcome both my son and daughter into the Eagle family eventually.”

Permitting girls to join allows them to take part in the Boy Scouts’ unique programs and helps unite families with both sons and daughters, the statement from BSA said.

Valencia resident Ashley Bouhebent said she would have enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the kinds of programs the Boy Scouts offer when she was younger.

“When I was a kid I wanted to be in Boy Scouts,” Bouhebent said. “They did things more along the lines of my interests. Glad little tomboys will have this opportunity now.”

For Susan Ellis Necessary, her children have had different experiences in their respective Scout troops.

“My son and my daughter have had polar opposite experience in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” Necessary, a Valencia resident said. “My daughter wished she was in Boy Scouts from the minute her little brother joined and she got to see how different the two programs are. She’s been jealous for eight years and he has been loving his time in Scouts.”

Lee Hess, a scout leader for 26 years, said he is thrilled to see the shift to include girls. As the father of three boys and a girl, Hess said his daughter would have been thrilled to go backpacking and white-water rafting as her brothers did.

“It’s about time,” Hess, a Westlake Village resident said. “I am thrilled.”

According to Hess, the Boy Scouts program is set up perfectly and contributes to community building skills that both boys and girls can benefit from. Prior to the change, Boy Scouts of America was one of the only Scout organizations in the world that was not co-ed, he said.

He sees no problem working through any issues with the change and said if the Scouts can work through any conflict in adding gay members as they did years ago, there should not be any trouble changing the rules for girls as well.

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