Perhaps Cyndi Lauper said it best. “Girls just wanna have fun.”
Did you catch Paul McMullen’s recent blog on his remembrances as a young boy of his Cub Scout den mother? I have similar fond memories. In the 1960’s that was about the only involvement in Scouting for most women – den mother. This is not to say that the position was not important. It was and its new counterpart, den leader, remain the heart of individual scouting activities. Fortunately, women’s involvement in Boy Scouting has dramatically expanded.
It is not too unusual to see female Cub masters or women leading the pack or troop committee (the administrative arm of the unit). Many professional Scouters are women. Recently, I went through an advanced scout training course called Wood Badge. The course director, Nancy Reed; senior patrol leader, Emily Michelsen; several troop guides; and many participants were women. What a change we’ve seen – and welcome!
In 1998, a new branch of Scouting was formed – Venturing. This program for young adults age 14 to 18 was a refinement of previous high adventure Scouting programs. Although duty to God and community service are important parts of the Venturing program, what it is better known for are its high adventure activities – backpacking, high angle work, spelunking, open water adventure (“Sea Scouts”), etc. Venturing quickly became Scouting’s fastest-growing program earlier in this decade. This growth was certainly due in part to the fact that it is open to young ladies, too!
Any discussion of girls and women in Scouting would be remiss not to mention the best-known female-centered Scouting program – Girl Scouts of America. Since 1912, Girl Scouts has been an extraordinary program for girls focusing on “building girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” The GSA reports “more than 2.7 girls and women” are presently enrolled in Girl Scouts. GSA – almost 100 years old and still going strong!
Developing women (and men) of fine character, self-confidence and an ability to team with others, giving back to our local and global communities, and with a devotion to God – that is what Scouting is all about. Want to learn more? Go to: girlscouts.org. The Boy Scouts of America has just recently launched the “Be A Scout” program. Take a look at beascout.org.
Karl Houser is a member of the Boys Scouts of America’s Baltimore Area Council membership committee. Scout news can be sent to him at firstname.lastname@example.org