Why My Daughter Joined the Boy Scouts

Girl in Boy Scout uniformMy daughter is a proud Scout. To be clear, she is a Scout in Scouts BSA (you probably know it as Boy Scouts of America). Yes, you read it right – my daughter. When she was in 1st grade, she saw a girl carrying the flag to do the pledge of allegiance at a PTA meeting and from that moment on, she was hooked.  She pulled her brother in, and our family officially became a Scouting Family.

In case you hadn’t heard, Boy Scouts of America officially began admitting girls to Cub Scouts and Troops in 2019. Cub Scouts are for kids from kindergarten through fifth grade, while Troops are for kids from age 11 through 18. To be clear, Boy Scouts of America has had females participating for years as leaders and in Venturing, Sea Scouts, and Explorers.  This step to include younger females, and females in the more general Scouts BSA part of the program, is just the most recent change.

My kids’ Cub Scout pack is a fairly diverse one. There are only slightly more boys than girls, and a large part of our leadership are women. We are what BSA calls a “family pack,” which means that boys and girls camp and do activities together with their families. This Spring, my daughter will officially complete her Cub Scout journey and join a Troop. We visited several, but ultimately found a Troop nearby where she feels comfortable. Unlike Cub Scout packs, troops are separated into Boy Troops and Girl Troops as the kids are older and their gender differences play a larger role. However, I will say that the Troop she is joining has a Boy Troop associated with it, and the kids work together for a lot of their activities. At least one of the boys from her Pack is joining the Boy Troop, so she will have a familiar face nearby.

Scouts BSA has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons.  I will say this – the organization is far from perfect.  There is plenty of room for improvement.  But, as an organization, they have taken real concrete steps to make sure the kids going through the program are in a healthy environment, that parents can feel safe sending their children into. I’m not here to say more on this side of things, instead I wanted to share what my girl has gotten out of joining what was a Boys Only club for so long.

In her pack, my child is a Scout. Not a girl. A Scout.  She is held to the same standards as the other Cub Scouts. She is encouraged and mentored in exactly the same way as the other Cub Scouts. When we go to events with the entire Council, she is right out there shooting BB Guns, aiming her arrows, and learning her knots… right next to all the other kids her age, boy or girl.

My daughter gets enough of reminders that “girls can’t do that” and “that’s just for girls” in our society. It’s great to have someplace where that specifically and purposely doesn’t happen. It’s just SCOUTS. While there are things she can’t do because she isn’t old enough or hasn’t earned the privilege yet, there’s absolutely nothing she can’t do simply because she’s a girl. Troops are “scout led”, meaning the adults get out of the way and the kids are responsible for planning and organizing their program for the year. Girl Troops and Boy Troops have the same requirements and go through the same program.  These Scouts succeed or fail based on the efforts they put into the program. They can make as much or as little as they want of it – a lesson in personal accountability that is absolutely invaluable in my eyes.

As we stand on the precipice of puberty and all the fun-filled excitement that comes with that – there are some things I want both my kids to be very clear on.  The opposite gender are people, too.  They put on their pants the same way.  It’s hard to be intimidated by that boy you went hiking with last weekend when you also watched him trip over a giant rock. It’s far easier to talk to the girl who sat next to you when you were learning how to use a pocketknife safely, second time around.

My son is done with Scouts BSA. He didn’t find his groove and stopped as soon as we agreed to it. My daughter, on the other hand, is so excited to head into her Troop. She talks about camping with the girls and starting fires and going cool places. I talk about hiking at Philmont; she is still skeptical, but I’ll get her there!  She may or may not stick it out.  If she does, she will join the very small cadre of women Eagle Scouts – and I hope she recognizes just what an accomplishment that would be. Regardless, Scouts BSA has given both my children some great outdoor time, survival skills, and lessons in self-sufficiency that will be useful for their entire lives.

I just can’t wait to see the Scout my daughter becomes as she advances.

“A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

Shanti is the product of recovering hippie parents. She’s a lifelong Texan, born in El Paso, with stops in Lubbock and Austin for college, before settling in San Antonio. She met her husband when she was 18. They both married and divorced other people before they realized it was meant to be. She now owns a firm with her partner in crime and together they practice family law in San Antonio and the surrounding area. Her husband works for a multi-national company making sure the cold stuff stays cold at your local HEB. They are raising twin tornadoes affectionately known as the Aliens, along with a rotating menagerie of dogs and cats. In her free time, she is involved in local nonprofits, runs, and serves proudly on the Broad Board.