Boy Scouts of America chapters to 'choose the program that best serves their needs'

Monday, May 14, 2018
Scout Pack 220 salutes during the retiring of the colors at the Honoring our Military event May 5 at the Scott City Historical Museum in Scott City.
KASSI JACKSON

The Boy Scouts of America on May 2 unveiled its new “Scout Me In” campaign to now accept girls into the Scouting program, which will change its name to “Scouts BSA” in February, but not all changes will immediately affect local chapters of the organization.

Elena Sturm, Cub master of Pack 220 in Scott City, said the announced changes haven’t yet affected her area.

“The changeover only is if we have any of the girls who want to join,” Sturm said. “And as of right now, I haven’t heard of any girls who want to join us, as far as down here; it’s a small town.

Sturm said she has been part of the organization for nearly three years and recently was promoted to Cub master for the Scott City area.

She said her pack is “just now restarting.”

“I’m the only leader. We can’t really start up a girl den because we don’t have any leaders. We have to do recruitment right now as it is,” Sturm said. “You can work together as a pack, but you have to branch off.”

Christine Rasure — director of marketing and communications for Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America — said her region “will be following the same changes that are being made by national.”

“Girls can begin joining our Cub Scout program this August,” she said. “And then beginning February 2019, girls can join our older youth program, which will be changing names from Boy Scouts to Scouts BSA.”

Rasure said she thinks the biggest confusion has been concerning the name change: The Boy Scouts of America organization is not changing its name, but its Scouting program will become Scouts BSA, reflecting the participation of boys and girls.

The Boy Scouts of America’s official blog, www.scoutingwire.org, states Scout troops will remain single gender, with no co-ed or mixed troops.

Just as it’s always been, she said, chartered organizations can choose the program that best serves their needs.

Rasure explained chartered organizations could decide whether they would like an all-girl unit, an all-boy unit or have both a girl unit and a boy unit.

Tony Smee — volunteer Scout master of Boy Scout Troop 2 at Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau — said none of the programming is going to change, and none of the requirements are going to change.

“The name change really affects the 11-to-17-year-old program. They’re going to be single-gender troops,” Smee said.

He said his troop will stay an all-boy troop, but if the church decides to start a female troop, it will have its own leadership.

Smee said his troop has a large committee with a lot of support.

“We have some parents that have girls that are ... going to be that age; if they chose to provide leadership for that troop, they could,” he said.

Smee said he expects some of that leadership will come from parents of girls who are interested in joining as well.

The Cub Scout program, Smee said, “has gone coeducation,” which includes first through fifth grades.

“They rolled that out a little bit earlier this year,” he said. “They really haven’t had a full recruiting drive on that yet.”

Smee said the people currently involved in Scouting have been very supportive, but not everyone has been happy.

Most of the push back, according to Smee, is from people who are not active with the program, or they’re just giving some displeasure, just because of the philosophy. Smee said those individuals “don’t really understand how the program is designed.”

jhartwig@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3632

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