Girls joining Boy Scouts is not something new - KMOV.com

Girls joining Boy Scouts is not something new

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Maggie Vitela was part of a program with the Boy Scouts when she was 15-year-old. Credit: Maggie Vitela Maggie Vitela was part of a program with the Boy Scouts when she was 15-year-old. Credit: Maggie Vitela
ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced Wednesday that they would allow girls to join the organization and give them the opportunity to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

This was a unanimous decision at the national level. Earning an Eagle Scout is new, however, girls being part of BSA is not a new concept. 

A program called "Venturing" has existed through BSA since 1992. This is a co-ed program for teens and young adults to interact together and earn scholarships through BSA. When St. Louisan Maggie Vitela, heard the news over BSA allowing girls, she was shocked people were so surprised by this action. She joined the Venturing program through Boy Scouts of Greater St. Louis when she was 15-years-old.

"I wanted to know how to survive. You know if something ever happens, that's the point of these programs, to know how to do this stuff, and the Girl Scouts did not provide that," said Vitela.

Vitela enjoyed going on camping trips with her Venturing group to the Blue Ridge Mountains. She said she liked "going river rafting, I could never do that with the Girl Scouts, or going down a zip line that I had to climb 50 ft. up to get to or rock repelling."

Vitela said the experience was a complete 180 from Girl Scouts. 

After Wednesday's announcement that girls have no restriction on what aspect of BSA they want to join, Vitela says she's excited for own sons to be a part of BSA that includes girls.

"My younger sons are in Boy Scouts now and I cannot wait to have younger girls in there because they're going to have to get along together when they get older anyway," said Vitela. 

However, not everyone is on board with this change. In comments left on KMOV's Facebook page, many were concerned about co-ed camping, including Janet Sims South, who said, "Going to have problems on overnight camping trips because I sure wouldn't be sending my kids or grandkids along."

Vitela says from her experience, co-ed camping worked well and there were no issues.

"There has to be a female adult leader there if there are girls, so there's always someone comfortable to speak to," said Vitela.

News 4 reached out to Boys Scout of Greater St. Louis and they provided this statement:

Today, October 11, the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors unanimously approved welcoming girls into its Cub Scout program and to deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will enable them to advance and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

In the fall of 2018, our Cub Scouts program will be open to boy and girls. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank. By welcoming both girls and boys into the program, even more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises and be better prepared for future success.

Locally, the Greater St. Louis Area Council will continue to adhere to all policies and procedures set forth by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America. This decision expands the programs that the Boy Scouts of America offers for both boys and girls. Although known for its iconic programs for boys, the BSA has offered co-ed programs since 1971 through Exploring and the Venturing program, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018.

News 4 also reached out to Girl Scouts of Eastern Missouri, asking if they were concerned with this change affecting their program and this is the statement they provided:

We are not going to let their decision detract us from what we do best. We are the preeminent girl-serving organization and only we bring the history, expertise and data-backed programming designed specifically to meet the unique needs and interests of girls. From coding to camping, everything we do in Girl Scouts is girl-led and girl-focused. Proud to be a Girl Scout!

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