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On Oct. 11, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they will be accepting girls into their Cub Scouts program, as well as provide a Scouting program for older girls to earn their Eagle Scout rank, starting in 2018.

The decision came after years of receiving requests, and after extensive research efforts, the national board of directors approved the historic result. According to a press release from The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), making convenient programs that serve the whole family is more appealing and 90 percent of parents not involved with Scouting showed interest in getting their daughters signed up for programs like Cub Scouts, while 87 percent expressed interest in a program like Boy Scouts.

In El Dorado, the De Soto Area Council group has received feedback from parents who are interested in having their daughters be part of their program.

“We believe that with this option available in addition to the other great programs in our community, that more youth will be served by all these programs,” said Scout Executive and CEO of the De Soto Council Area Ted Woodlock in an email. “All these programs offer different, positive experiences for our youth.”

How it will work:

An existing charting organization may choose to serve girls or remain an all-boy pack. When creating a new pack, a chartered organization may form an all-boy pack, an all-girl pack, multiple packs or a pack of girl dens and boy dens.

Cub Scout dens will be single gender — all boys or all girls. Cub Scout packs can include any combination of all-boy or all-girl dens. The choice is left to individual leaders in consultation for both boys and girls.

“This hybrid model builds on the benefit of a single-gender program, while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls,” Woodlock said.

The process for any person to register with any of the programs will remain the same, which includes a registration form, the appropriate fees and approvals where necessary.

The BSA has offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring, the Venturing program and the STEP Scout pilot program. El Dorado currently has girls registered for their Venturing program, Woodlock said, which will be celebrating 20 years in 2018.

The girl’s curriculum for Eagle Scouts will be developed by the BSA’s National Council through professional staff and volunteers who develop the programs that scouts use on a local level.

“Our programs offer a variety of different experiences, which include the Eagle Scout rank,” Woodlock said. “Our existing programs are relevant for young men and women.”

The Eagle Scout program will be announced in 2018 and is projected to be available in 2019.

But not everyone is on board with the decision.

The BSA have always had a cordial relationship with the Girl Scouts of the USA, but are now being considered a new competitor, Girl Scout’s Chief Customer Officer Lisa Margosian said in a press release.

“We believe in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides,” she said.

The El Dorado Girl Scouts Union Service Unit is also against the BSA’s agreement to admit girls into their program.

“We do camping and all the things that Boy Scouts provide too. If girls weren’t doing that, then that is because they chose not to,” said Union Service Unit Director Elizabeth Pratt.

The Girl Scouts of the USA also provide a similar rank to Eagle Scouts called the Gold Award.

Although the dens will be either all-girl or all-boy, the pack meetings will include all dens, which is where the problem lies, said Tracye Baker, leader of Girl Scout Troop 2114 of Norphlet/Smackover.

“The BSA did not have the best interest of our boys in mind when they made this move,” Baker wrote on the News-Times Facebook page. “They saw a way to cater to one group and increase membership. Yes, they have given the packs the option to remain all boy but really who is going to do that. They feel pressured to admit girls or appear that they think girls aren’t good enough for Boy Scouts. This isn’t an issue of girls being good enough. It’s an issue of boys having their own organization.”

Overall, the De Soto Area Council just wants to make sure that the youth in the El Dorado community have opportunities and programs to be involved with.

“We think this option will provide additional opportunities for those youth who may not be currently involved in any community programs,” Woodlock said. “There are some great opportunities in our community and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

Kaitlyn Rigdon can be reached at 870-862-6611 or


We asked our readers on Facebook what they thought of the announcement from the Boy Scouts that girls would be admitted into Cub Scouts starting next year. Here is what some Union County residents had to say: Editor’s note: Responses may have been edited for spelling, grammar, length or clarity.

“We are fortunate to live in a community with very strong programs for youth – be it the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, Boys & Girls Club or Girl Scouts. Our children have a choice. I don’t think our Boy Scout Council will see a large influx of girls given the other options available. Anyway, the Scouting programs will not be co-ed. Cub Scouting will have girl dens and boy dens. There may be all boy packs and all girl packs, and packs with both, but no dens with both boys and girls. The program that will eventually be offered to young women will be separate from the current one for young men.”

  • Alexis Alexander

“I don’t agree with it.”

  • Sherry Hudgens Case

“When I was a young Brownie, and eventually a Girl Scout, I had an older brother who was a Boy Scout. His manual was way cooler than mine. I would spend hours reading his, wishing that I could do all the cool things he was getting to do. So yes, let the girls in and call it “Scouts”! They can look for those renegade Indians together! Lol!

  • Donna Moore Lawrence

“Came home that day and my husband told our 8-year-old daughter: ‘Good news! As of today, you can join the Boy Scouts!’ To which she replied: ‘Why would I want to do that?!’ We have a Girl Scout program in El Dorado. I have a lovely neighbor that has devoted herself to it, and we love her samoas. We have Campfire that we actively participate in. I don’t think my daughter needs to prove anything or compete with anyone to make her presence known, and obviously she doesn’t either. I don’t think it’s healthy for young girls to be led to believe that they need to participate in another gender’s activities to be equal to them. Girls are just as equal to boys in society/opportunity and they should be taught to value and appreciate what makes them different.”

  • Manda Price Minchew

“Why can’t everybody just leave things the way they’ve been for years and quit trying to fix something that’s not broken. BOY scouts means just that … BOYS. Jeez.”

  • Lisa Hargett-Allison

“I think it’s absurd!”

  • Peggy Buckwalter Bonner

“I think that boys should have their time and girls should have theirs. Being in the Bible Belt we teach about God’s will and what should or should not be. If you don’t want your son to be a girl and vice versa, why try to clump them together in organizations? And then we want to teach equality? How?”

  • Casey Kyula Beaird

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