Boy Scouts To Allow Girls: Local Program Will Welcome Change With Open Arms

SIOUX FALLS, S.D.– Boy Scouts of America made a monumental decision this week. The organization announced it will begin allowing girls as early as next year. KDLT’s Jill Johnson talked to the local program based in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Council says they will welcome the change with open arms.

Inside the Sioux Council Office is more than 70 years of Boys Scouts of America memorabilia. The museum features old uniforms, medals, badges, and banners, but none of them mention anything about girls.

“I have received a few calls from individuals who say that this is a wrong decision,” said Sioux Council BSA Scout Executive Tom Smotherman.

Starting next year, girls will be allowed to join Cub Scouts. And in 2019, they can join Boy Scouts, which will enable them to earn the organization’s most coveted honor: the rank of Eagle Scout.

“You go in and you tell those elementary school aged boys, ‘Here’s the excitement that we have available for you in cub scouting,” said Smotherman. “You see that excitement on the boys’ faces, but then you see the girls in that same classroom sitting there saying, ‘Well, why can’t I join?'”

Nationally, the Girl Scouts organization has expressed their opposition to the move taking to Twitter, saying, ‘We’re the BEST leadership organization in the world for girls and no one can do what we do.’ But the Sioux Council believes the two won’t be competing. They say they strive to reach the same goals, they just go about it in very different ways.

“Some of that appeals to young ladies who would like to be in the Girl Scouts. Some of it appeals to young ladies who would like to be in the Boy Scouts,” said Smothersman.

The Sioux Council says in Boy Scouts, leadership, self-esteem and character development, are learned mostly from being outdoors.

Smothersman said, “We just hope between the two organizations… that we are now providing more opportunities for more young girls to be able to be exposed to those life-changing experiences.”

While Boy Scouts of America has seen a decline in numbers nationally, locally the organization is growing. The Sioux Council, which serves 61 counties in South Dakota, Iowa, and Minnesota, had a more than a 4 percent increase in members in the last year.

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