Scouting in the 21st Century

I have been a member of the Boy Scouts of America for over fifty years.

When I joined in 1966, the BSA had a Motto (Be Prepared) and a Slogan (Do a Good Turn Daily).

The BSA required members to recite the Scout Oath (Duty to God and County, Duty to Others, and Duty to Yourself) and the Twelve Points of the Scout Law.

Scouts learned the beauty of the outdoors while hiking, camping, swimming, canoeing, and fishing.

Scouts learned that our environment is fragile, and must be carefully protected. Cub Scouts were grouped in Cub Scout Dens, within a Cub Scout Pack.

They participated in an annual Pinewood Derby, dreaming of the day that they might receive the Arrow of Light Award.

Boy Scouts were grouped in Patrols, and worked through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life. Boy Scouts worked to achieve twenty-one merit badges, including eleven “Eagle-Required” badges for Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the Community, Camping, and First Aid.

Scouts were required to regularly perform community service, and were expected to do so cheerfully. Boy Scouts dreamed of the day that they might achieve the Eagle Scout Award.

In the year 2017, not a single one of those treasured traditions has changed.

A few things, however, have changed a great deal.

While Scouts still wear uniforms, stiff cotton has been replaced by more comfortable synthetic fabrics.

Today, adult leaders are expected to successfully complete required training. Scoutmasters are sometimes women.

The Boy Scouts of America owns and operates four high adventure bases in Florida, Minnesota, New Mexico, and West Virginia, each of which offers world class adventures to thousands of Scouts each year.

Scouts today can choose from well over one hundred merit badges, including American Heritage, Animation, Chess, Climbing, Geocaching, Landscape Architecture, Moviemaking, Nuclear Science, Oceanography, and Space Exploration.

Although regular community service is still expected of Scouts, youth members now often share in planning the projects.

In 1969, the Boy Scouts of America permitted young women, between the ages of 14 and 20, to join special interest Explorer Posts. Those Posts were often focused on career interests such as law enforcement, but sometimes focused on sports or outdoor adventure. Young women flourished in those programs, and many became the leader of their Explorer Post.

Over the years, many Scout families have expressed frustration that BSA membership was open to their sons, but not their daughters. While many young women have wonderful experiences in the Girl Scouts USA (my daughter achieved the GSUSA Silver Award) many others simply wanted a more “outdoor-based” Scouting experience.

The Boy Scouts of America and the GSUSA both offer very a positive experience to their members, and both organizations deserve our support. The fact remains, however, that neither program can meet the needs of every young person.

The BSA has now announced its intention to slowly open its membership to young women, below age 14.

That transition will take years to complete.

Scout leaders will face new challenges, including how to best teach young men and women mutual respect, and how they can manage adversity, side by side.

Young boys will learn camping, canoeing and hiking skills from teenage girls, and teenage girls will receive the Eagle Scout Award.

Judging from media reports, it appears that a few journalists (who know little about the Boy Scout program) predict that this change will weaken the Boy Scouts of America, or the GSUSA, or both.

I do not share their concern. This change will open to young women membership in the most successful youth leadership development program that our nation has ever known.

When I served as Scoutmaster, one Assistant Scoutmaster had three daughters, but no sons.

If this had happened long ago, perhaps he could have been the proud father of three Eagle Scouts.

To my way of thinking, that would have been just fine.

Carlucci is a Williamsport attorney.