Courtesy Perry Underdown
For Charlie Underdown, 11, letting girls into Boy Scouts is actually a very Boy Scout thing to do.
At a pizza restaurant in Seattle reads aloud from his scout handbook: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind….” Charlie takes the Scout Law to mean you shouldn’t exclude anybody.
“They literally have these pledges and the oath to be kind and courteous and considerate,” he says. So he’s one Scout who supports the announcement from Boy Scouts of America that girls would be allowed to join starting in 2019.
Charlie says keeping people out would be unfair. His father Perry Underdown says it also wouldn’t align with his family’s core values. Perry was a Boy Scout and it meant a lot to him.
“There was a sense of belonging and having a community and having positive male role models that I could look to to kind of help guide me.” Perry says.
So when his son was old enough, he signed him up.
The Boy Scouts’ decision this week to allow girls to participate was in the works for a while. It’s the organization’s latest step to stay relevant and accommodate modern families, including those from cultures that value family togetherness and have busy parents and busy kids.
Parents have asked for girls’ programs for decades, says Chief Seattle Council Scout Executive, Michael Quirk.
“We’ve always heard a lot of anecdotal stories from parents saying, ‘Gosh, wouldn’t it be great if we had programs for our daughters so that we weren’t having to run across town for a second meeting of some sort,'” he says.
Next fall, girls who are Cub Scout age – in first through fifth grades — can join a Cub Scout pack or den with other girls. Boys and girls will still be separated to some extent, Quirk says.
“There won’t be any commingling at this point,” he says. “It won’t be a coed den; it will be a den of all boys or all girls.”
The rules will probably look similar for girls ages 10 through 18. They’ll be able to join Boy Scout troops starting 2019. The details about what that might look like haven’t been finalized yet, Quirk says.
For some people, the changes just extend their daughters’ informal involvement.
Krista Holmes from Issaquah, Washington, has a son in Boy Scouts and two twin daughters in Girl Scouts. In a sense, her daughters are already part of Cub Scouts. Holmes still volunteers with her son’s old Cub Scout pack, which has something for everyone in the family.
“Our pack meetings were already family oriented, so the whole family, even extended family would be invited along to do activities,” she says. “Like this month for our Cub Scout troop we’re having a holiday Halloween bash.”
The loudest voices of opposition this week came from the Girl Scouts.
“Only Girl Scouts has the expertise to give girls and young women the tools they need for success,” the organization said in a statement.
Holmes’ girls will stay in Girl Scouts, she says. But if they’d had the option earlier, her daughters may have become Boy Scouts.