Did you know the Boys Scouts of America changed their name? They are now called Scouts BSA. Kind of ironic since the “B” in BSA still stands for “Boy.” But, they had to change their name. They are no longer exclusively a male organization.
This year they allowed girls to join the Boy Scouts. It caused quite a stir when it was announced. I have to admit that I was opposed to it at the time. I’ve been involved with Boy Scouts my entire life. I started as an eleven year old scout. I worked my way up through the ranks to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout when I was 15 years old.
I stayed involved in scouting through my years as a young man. I became a scoutmaster at 20 years old. I was also a missionary for the LDS Church at the time.
I was excited when my own sons we scouting age. Two earned their Eagle Scout awards. Two did not, and the juries still out on the fifth one.
So, the idea of girls being Eagle Scouts seemed foreign to me. I wasn’t against girl organizations, of course. I have eight daughters and I want the best for them. But, why not create a separate organization? Why not make something new?
It’s not really my call, of course. In a few months the Mormon church will be disassociating with the Boy Scouts. My church group sponsors a troop. They will stop in January and if I want to continue my association with the Boy Scouts, I’ll need to go find a community troop.
This summer my friend Julio and I put on a scout camp. We did a Scout camp two years ago as well. This year, probably because of the impending separation of the BSA from the LDS, we had a tough time recruiting troops. In fact, my troop and his troop both declined to attend.
It’s not terribly expensive to hold a scout camp, but it’s not free either. So, we started looking for other troops to join us. We were approached by two troops of girl. . .scouts. . .girl-boy scouts. . .SHE-scouts. They had only been in existence for a few months. Obviously they had never been to camp before. But, they were willing to pay to attend our camp.
So, we ended up with a Boy Scout camp that included two Boy Scout troops and two troops of SHE-scouts. We instituted plenty of rules. Buddy system at all times. Girls’ campsites away from boys’ campsites.
Boy Scout camps start and end the day with a flag ceremony. It’s a pretty symbolic event. It’s one that I’ve been part of countless times over the past 44 years. It’s, in some ways the essence of what it means to be be a Scout at camp.
And last week we held our scout camp. The first day I experienced something I’ve never seen in over four decades of scouts and camp. The flag was posted by a group of girls, SHE-scouts.
And you know what? They did a fantastic job.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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