Boy Scouts now accepts girls, but these scouting groups already did
Now that girls will be allowed to join.
Boy Scouts of America dropped the word “boy” from the name of its signature program, the organization announced Wednesday, paving the way for more girls to join its iconic scouting programs. But as Boy Scouts modernizes for the 21st century, it finds itself late to the movement: Several scouting groups in the United States have long welcomed girls as well as boys to earn badges, learn leadership and enjoy the great outdoors.
Here are four scouting groups that began accepting all children years ago:
Founded in 1910 as Camp Fire Girls, the Kansas City, Mo.-based organization began to provide girls with the organized outdoor opportunities boys experienced elsewhere. The group changed its name in 1975, opening the door to all youths. Other groups develop leaders for tomorrow, but Camp Fire aims to “unlock their potential so they can thrive —where they are now,” regardless of religion, gender or sexual orientation. To raise funds, they also sell candy (think butter toffee peanuts and caramel clusters).
A scouting group founded on pagan beliefs, SpiralScouts values environmentalism and gender equality alongside camping, hiking and the teaching of “woodland lore.” The group began nearly 20 years ago at the Aquarian Tabernacle Church in Washington state, but now “religious-based aspects of it are friendly to other faiths and may be easily adapted or omitted,” the organization says, welcoming children of all faiths, genders and orientations. It welcomes the whole family, too, which participates as a “hearth” under a child-directed experience.
Exclusionary policies prompted an East Harlem-based Boy Scout troop to break off from the organization in 2003, opting to continue on its own as a secular scouting alternative open to all genders. “The greatest challenge for the future of our planet is to learn how to get along with people different than ourselves,” the group declares on its site, emphasizing outdoor activity as a solution to young people’s increasingly sedentary lifestyles.
Baden-Powell Service Association
Old-school scouting for everyone. That’s the aim of the Baden-Powell Service Association, named after the British founder of boy scouting and based out of Washington, Mo. Founded in 2006, the group believes in “modernizing language to keep up with societal evolution” and prohibits “any and all discrimination.” But it still emphasizes a classic scouting experience that promotes “outdoor skills, citizenship and self-reliance” — with all meetings held outdoors.
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