Girl dens blaze fresh trail into Boy Scouts of America

MCLEAN, Va., May 28 (Reuters) - On a frontline of the gender equality battle in the United States is Den 13, a suburban Virginia Cub Scout unit made up of girls on their way to next year becoming the first female Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America.

The girls, who are 8 to 10 years old, say they appreciate the outdoor challenges of scouting: finding the route to a waterfall on a wrinkled map, crossing a creek and encountering a snake.

After more than a century as a bastion of boyhood, the Boy Scouts of America announced in October that this year it would begin letting girls join the 7- to 10-year-old Cub Scouts. More than 3,000 girls joined an Early Adopter program this spring.

In 2019, the girls of Den 13 in McLean, Virginia, will be among the first female members of the newly named "Scouts BSA" program, which until the change will still be called "Boy Scouts" and only admit boys aged 11 to 17.

11 PHOTOS
Reactions to Boy Scouts admissions change
See Gallery
Reactions to Boy Scouts admissions change
Strange, I thought that's what the Girl Scouts was for??? https://t.co/8Dhub01Ihi
Boy Scouts just made Girl Scouts irrelevant. https://t.co/t6VgMeqTad
I welcome @boyscouts decision to integrate girls in their programs. On #DayoftheGirl, we reaffirm #Scouting commitm… https://t.co/UxQdedPdly
Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are two different orgs w/ two different approaches. Both are great, but I like that girls have a choice now.
Boy Scouts accepting Girls into their ranks? I see what's going on. They just want those cookies.
OUTSTANDING news. I'm not often proud to tell people I'm an Eagle Scout, but today, I'm proud of the Boy Scouts for this decision! #progress
If I were a social justice warrior, wouldn't I be mad that the Boy Scouts pretty much just made the Girl Scouts obsolete? #BoyScouts
How about this: Just merge the Boy Scouts And Girl Scouts. Call it “Scouts” and cut these idiotic gender plays off at the knees. Enough.
@theDoubleE18 @BSAchief @boyscouts I'm a cubmaster. I hear this stuff. But girls are already participating in cub s… https://t.co/nluLJfMmbx
I'm a #EagleScout I'm proud of my rank and the scouts. Today makes me even prouder @boyscouts though we might need a name change.
As an Eagle Scout, I say: Why not? #BoyScouts https://t.co/C621FEfuJM
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Scouting alongside boys is no issue for 10-year-old Dani Hyder.

"I don't really mind as long as I get to do it," she said. "I don't care what gender the people I'm doing with are."

Like others in her den, 10-year-old Lilly Rumpf went on hikes and family camping trips, but watched from the sidelines as her brother rose through the ranks of the Boy Scouts.

"It was like he got to do all the cool things, and I didn't," she said. "So when I got involved in this, it was really cool."

Boy Scouts of America said admitting girls is making life easier for families with brothers and sisters who want to follow the same path.

"I think our program offers both genders exactly what we want young people to learn and embrace as they grow up," said Les Baron, scout executive for the Boy Scouts National Capital Area Council.

The move comes as attitudes toward gender change and after decades of declining membership. Boy Scouts of America now has about 2.3 million members, a drop of about one-third since 2000. The organization decided to admit openly gay scouts in 2014, and last year welcomed transgender members.

As Boy Scouts of America widens its scope, the Girl Scouts of the USA is reaffirming its commitment to girls.

"Girl Scouts has always proudly owned the 'Girl' in Girl Scouts, and our programming is, and always will, reflect the fact that we are girl-led and girl-centric," the organization said in a statement.

The Boy Scouts held annual meetings in Dallas last week with many awaiting news of a uniform change with different cuts for girls and alternatives like Capri pants and "skorts," or skirts with shorts inside.

For now, the Den 13 girls wear shirts embroidered with "Boy Scouts of America," standard olive shorts, resting their ponytails and braids on plaid neckerchiefs.

Heading to the waterfall, Den 13 took a wrong turn down a dead end trail.

"I kind of like that we got lost," said Hiro Rose, enjoying the river view. After consulting their map, the girls quickly found their way.

For Danielle, the best part of the hike was obvious. "Actually having a snake crawl, like slither across my shoe." (Reporting by Katharine Jackson; Editing by Mary Milliken and Lisa Shumaker)

Read Full Story