Why Boy Scouts went co-ed. What America will lose.

Summary: Boy Scouts are in the news again. As usual, journalists get the story wrong. The real story shows the trends that are molding a new America.

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The problem

Membership in Boy Scouts of America peaked in 1973 at 4.8 million. Decades of relentless mismanagement by its HQ in Irving, Texas, reduced that to 2.5 billion by ~2012, and to 2.3 million “members” (boys and girls) today. The 437 thousand Mormon boys are roughly one-fifth of BSA membership, and they’re leaving – following BSA’s decision to admit gays, transgendered Scouts, and now girls (as Boy Scouts). This might leave BSA too small to fund its infrastructure, leading to a death spiral.

Tapping Boy Scouting’s biggest asset

“In a nation so large and so diverse there are few ways of quantifying intelligence or success or ability, so those few that exist are immediately magnified, titles become particularly important.”
— David Halberstam in The Best and the Brightest.

The response of the BSA leadership was genius. Boy Scouts’ primary asset is the reputation of Eagle Scouts. Competition for the few slots at prestigious colleges is fierce, and the words “Eagle Scout” on an application can help. Scout troops have increasingly become “Eagle factories.” Parents complete the boys’ projects. Outdoor treks are done only as needed. The parents run troops like schools; boys grudgingly cooperate, and bounce out after getting the little eagle pin — depriving Troops of what should be their Scout leaders. This is antimatter to Scout Spirit.

The fraction of Scouts becoming Eagles was roughly 1% to 1.5% from 1930 to 1990. Then it began to skyrocket, reaching 6% in 2013 – an assent that continues today.

Percent of Scouts who become Eagle-Scout-percentages - over time
Graph by Bryan Wendall.


Girl Scouts’ Gold Award does not have the same prestige. BSA leadership has fully opened Boy Scouts to girls, expecting to receive a flood of credential-hungry girls (girls seeking high adventure have been able to join BSA Venturing since 1969). Many of them would otherwise go to Girl Scouts. They believe these girls will more than offset the loss of Mormon Scouts.

This marketing coup could gut Girl Scouts like a trout. With 1.8 million members (down from 2.9 million in 2003), Girl Scouts could provide a transfusion of members keeping BSA viable for another generation or two. The Girl Scouts’ leaders’ response is the mirror image of BSA’s: we train girls for jobs in STEM fields! That’s an appeal to parents, not girls. It is the same thinking that produces Eagle factories, and will eventually erode away the reputation of the “Eagle” brand.

Looking at a broader market, BSA’s leaders have two surveys showing that many parents not now involved in Boy Scouts wanted their daughters in Boy Scouts. That’s probably false. Surveys often elicit answers that are false but sound good. Almost all other nations Boy Scouts associations have gone coed; few saw a boost in membership (e.g., the UK in 1991).

Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West
Available at Amazon.

Scouting in 21st Century America

Fully admitting girls will not “destroy” Boy Scouts – now to be known as “Scouts BSA.” The parent organization adopted the unisex name Scouting/USA – in 1977. Almost all of the world’s 216 nations have coed Scouting.

I predict three kinds of change to the organization formerly known as Boy Scouts. That is after BSA figures out how to integrate girls into units (which they haven’t yet).

First, the fraction of Scouts becoming Eagles will continue to skyrocket as girls join seeking another credential. The long-term effects of that on the reputation of the credential cannot be good.

Second, running high adventure programs will become more difficult. These are already difficult. Making them coed will make them much more so, and hence rarer. (As always in Scouting, the limiting factor is trained adult leaders – not interested youth.) High adventure programs – supported by Scouting’s large infrastructure – make Scouting special and valuable. Without that, Scouting is just another youth program. They are a dime a dozen.

The third likely change goes to the heart of modern feminism. Women are as tough as men. They can take care of themselves. They can do anything that men can do. But when introduced into an all-male organization, new and powerful regulatory machinery must be created to protect them. The US military and corporations are in the midst of this now.

Tighter regulation of boys in Scouting would be unfortunate. Scouting is one of the few remaining “safe spaces” for boys, where boys can be boys. In school and sports, they’re regimented like soldiers. Parents – often under pressure from teachers – drug boys who are too spirited. Now Boy Scouts joins the parade.

It is another step in creation of a new America. Many small steps towards a radical goal.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all post about women and gender, and especially these…

  1. Women have won the gender revolution.
  2. Conflict in tomorrow’s offices: strong women clashing with each other.
  3. The Economist proclaims that men are “The Weaker Sex”.
  4. Women are moving on top of men in America.
  5. We might become a low testosterone America. More research needed, stat!
  6. Women on Top, chapter 10: the growing gender gap in education.
  7. Victims no more: the revolution puts women on top of men.

The context: boys in America.

The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies are Harming Our Young Men
Available at Amazon.

I recommend reading The War Against Boys: How Misguided Policies are Harming Our Young Men by Christina Hoff Sommers. For an intro to it see her 2000 article in The Atlantic. From the publisher…

“An updated and revised edition of this controversial classic — now more relevant than ever — argues that boys are the ones languishing socially and academically, resulting in staggering social and economic costs.

“Girls and women were once second-class citizens in the nation’s schools. Americans responded with concerted efforts to give girls and women the attention and assistance that was long overdue. Now, after two major waves of feminism and decades of policy reform, women have made massive strides in education. Today they outperform men in nearly every measure of social, academic, and vocational well-being.

“Christina Hoff Sommers contends that it’s time to take a hard look at present-day realities and recognize that boys need help. Called “provocative and controversial …impassioned and articulate” (The Christian Science Monitor), this edition of The War Against Boys offers a new preface and six radically revised chapters, plus updates on the current status of boys throughout the book.

“Sommers argues that the problem of male underachievement is persistent and worsening. Among the new topics Sommers tackles: how the war against boys is harming our economic future, and how boy-averse trends such as the decline of recess and zero-tolerance disciplinary policies have turned our schools into hostile environments for boys. As our schools become more feelings-centered, risk-averse, competition-free, and sedentary, they move further and further from the characteristic needs of boys. She offers realistic, achievable solutions to these problems that include boy-friendly pedagogy, character and vocational education, and the choice of single-sex classrooms.

The War Against Boys is an incisive, rigorous, and heartfelt argument in favor of recognizing and confronting a new reality: boys are languishing in education and the price of continued neglect is economically and socially prohibitive.”

60 thoughts on “Why Boy Scouts went co-ed. What America will lose.”

  1. Larry Kummer, Editor

    About taking co-ed groups into the wild

    At a BSA adult training weekend (Backpacking Basics) we had a session about co-ed treks. It was pretty content-free, mostly rah rah.

    The speaker, a guy, concluded with a declaration that in 20 years of co-ed camping he never once had a couple go into the woods for sex. The audience broke into spontaneous laughter. Laughing at him and his over-the-top claim.

    I’ve never before seen an audience do that in a serious meeting.

  2. Larry Kummer, Editor

    The elephant in the room, ignored by journalists writing about Scouting.

    Scouting does not work well for single-parent families.

    It requires participation of adult leaders who have a spouse to stay at home with the other kids. It requires parents with a great deal of spare time (Scout leaders joke that the “one hour a week” recruiting line is one of life’s three great lies).

    Single parent households want to use Scouting — that is, other parents — as baby-sitting. Few troops can support large numbers of such free-loaders.

    As always, there are exceptions.

    1. I have around 35 years experience in Scouting as a youth,(1950’s) as an adult volunteer a few years ago. It used to be a good place for Boys from troubled families, single parent families, and young boys “at risk”. It is why the organization was founded. I have watched painfully as it degenerated over the years to what is described in part by this article.

      It used to be focused on getting the most boys to become First Class scout rank and Eagle Scout for only those who were most sincere about giving to the “Boy run troupe”. No so today. Programs have already been watered down from when I was a Tenderfoot. Boys rarely have a role other than to be led like students on a quest for advancement.

      Baden Powell said he had created scouting more as a game to be played by the boys which would teach them citizenship and life skills. They would have fun and learn these things. I am paraphrasing his words. I am so sorry that such a great idea and good organization has been run to the ground.

      Thanks for letting me rant a bit.


      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        That nails it.

        Going back to the purpose of Scouting, here is the history of the phrase.

        The thought first appeared in Baden-Powell’s “Aids to Scoutmastership” (1919). Emphasis in the original.

        “Scouting is not an abstruse or difficult science: rather it is a jolly game if you take it in the right light. At the same time it is educative, and (like Mercy) it is apt to benefit him that giveth as well as him that receiveth. The term “Scouting” has come to mean a system of training in citizenship, through games, for boys or girls. …

        “SCOUTING IS A GAME for boys, under the leadership of boys, in which elder brothers can give their younger brothers healthy environment and encourage them to healthy activities such as will help them to develop CITIZENSHIP.”

        The full phrase first appeared in the Third Edition of BSA’s Handbook for Scoutmasters (1936), written by William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt. In chapter two “The Game of Scouting,” on page 24 under the heading “Scouting in a Nutshell” –

        “Here, then, is Scouting in a nutshell: A game for boys under the leadership of boys with the wise guidance and counsel of a grown-up who has still the enthusiasm of youth in him. A purposeful game, but a game just the same, a game that develops character by practice, that trains for citizenship – through experience in the out-of-doors.”

        On page 235 are the “Ten Essentials of Scoutmastership” (caps as in the original:

        “A realization that to the boys Scouting is a game – to you, a game with a purpose: Character building and Citizenship training.”

        Character building and Citizenship training were, at that time, the two Aims of Scouting.

  3. ”Girl Scouts’ Gold Award does not have the same prestige.”

    Prestige seems to correlate towards responsibility. Boy scouts are expected to be much more excellent and much more responsible than the girl scouts counterpart.

    The boys/men in general seem to have “hard-core” mode engaged by default if one want to use a gaming analogy. In general the more dangerous and difficult something is the more male dominated it becomes.

  4. Pingback: Girl Scouts launches new extended membership opportunities for camp season | Perry Chavers

  5. Re: “Eagle factories”

    I’ve been part of troops that became Eagle factories and part of troops that weren’t as focused on the Eagle award. Eagle factories are almost always created by a few driven parents who then proceed to wreck scouting for their children, much as you describe. The best troops, in my humble opinion, are the ones focused on delivering the scouting experience to as many boys as possible and letting the boys decide whether they want to earn the Eagle award.

    The worst case I saw was where a man had two sons, the older was very interested in the BSA and drifted naturally into leadership roles. He worked hard on his Eagle project (which is vastly more bureaucratic than my experience of nearly 40 years ago) and really EARNED his award. We were all proud of him.

    The younger son was a good kid but wasn’t as driven, just not Eagle material. The father pushed that kid and the troop mercilessly, donating large amounts of time (more valuable than money in this particular community) and organized a group of his second child’s friends into an Eagle-earning machine. Some of the kids worked hard to earn their awards, some tried to drop out of the machine but stay in Scouting (this included the second son). They were given the awards anyway.

    I took the father aside and made the gentle suggested that he might be doing more harm than good by giving the awards away, half expecting him to scream at me. He just said, “I need to make sure that my sons have equal experiences growing up, they’d hate me if I didn’t.” I told him that I thought his sons were very different people with different interests. His response was, “that doesn’t matter, they’d still hate me if I didn’t.” I could tell he really believed it.

    Eventually 7 kids got their Eagles all at the same time. Three earned them the old fashioned way, one worked really hard and kind of deserved it (was just terribly disorganized and his parents weren’t able to help out a lot), and three did not. They had a mass ceremony and the difference in the emotions between the four that had worked so hard and the three who did not was profound and sad. Then the father and all 7 kids quit simultaneously. Admittedly, it was May and all of the kids were seniors and all of them were leaving for different parts of the world.

    My son was one of the three who worked hard and earned his award. He had a lot of good things to say about the Scouting program in general but was unforgiving of the one father. My son felt like the mass ceremony cheapened the whole experience and I offered to do a separate ceremony but my son declined, he was uncomfortable with rocking the boat too much with his friends.

    The saving grace of the story was that a couple of the older scouting parents (who’s kids had long since left) and I had worked to build a core of good scouting principles in the parents of the younger kids with the one father providing an outstanding example of what NOT to do. The troop thrived after he left.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thanks for sharing that story.

      Eagle factories proliferate because they meet the needs of society. They result from groups of parents that build the troop to meet their needs. They are quite popular, and attract other families.

      Eagle factories are much easier to operate than real troops, in a thousand ways. Scouting has few mechanisms to regulate troops, and none at all to regulate Eagle factories (which from the outside look fine).

      Some say they are like a virus spreading in an organism whose immune systems can’t respond. That’s a false analogy. Eagle factories are better suited for our new America than traditional Scouting.

    2. Larry H. Shoemaker

      When I was in Scouting; 1958 – 1967. Eagle was a self-motivated achievement. Some parents strongly encouraged boys. However, I never saw organized efforts to produce Eagles. There were merits badge courses at camps; however there was no overt system in place. Everything was voluntary. We Scouts did most of the planning for campouts, patrol and troop meetings. We understood the purpose; to become responsible and self-motivated. Eagles were clearly a different caliber of person. And that was/is what makes an Eagle a valuable member of society.

      1. Larry,

        I was a Scout getting my eagle in 1972. Same experience.

        But the ferocious struggle to get into good colleges – and get scholarships – has seriously corrupted the process.

        Now their are troops that are a combo of day care and eagle certificate factories. I served on District Eagle boards, and saw kids that had done little and learned little on the road to Eagle.

        My guess (guess) is that many credential hungry parents will migrate to “Scouting” from Girl Scouts because the Gold Award isn’t as useful an adornment as the Eagle.

        As you imply, this will inevitably erode away the prestige of the Eagle. It’s just part of the decline of Scouting, which is part of the broad wave of institutional decline that is modern America.

        It’s vital that we see the big process, not just the individual facets.

  6. Great post. Same sex organizations have the very practical advantage that they are just far simpler to manage. We seem to need to understand and appreciate that a lot more. Mixing women into formerly all-male groups, invoking “zero tolerance” for female harm which very few men will oppose is a winning formula for “destroying the patriarchy”, aka Western civilization. I’d rather not jump off that cliff to see what’s below…

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “Same sex organizations have the very practical advantage that they are just far simpler to manage.”

      Having run both kinds of organizations for children, I disagree. For a typical youth organization, both boys-only and coed (I’ve not run girls-only groups) are equally easy. Boys-only groups are more rowdy. Girls-only require the obvious supervision of gender action. They’re quite similar.

      Taking kids out into the wild is a different matter. First, I would not lead a coed group without a women co-leader (for any group, two is the minimum). Since few women want to go on high adventure treks (despite the publicity, where every woman loves free climbing), that will be a big problem. Second, the added supervision required for coed makes the already difficult job even worse.

  7. Good post Larry and good responses . Great and appropriate quite from Halberstam . Thanks.

  8. As a former scouting leader, I agree with much of your assessment, but would add another reason for the decline of Boy Scouts. Humans have become a domesticated species, and are disconnected from the natural world as never before. Boys especially have become more LCD display entranced and sedentary. In the past, it was sports and girls that caused the older scouts to slowly leave scouting, but added now are addictive entertainment and the fact that outdoor adventure just doesn’t connect with them anymore. Even with better adult leadership, we would be seeing a decline.

    And further, the decline in volunteering in all areas of our society means poorer overall adult leadership (I saw some doozies that made me cringe), and very uneven troop experience for the boys that do give it a shot.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I agree on all points.

      The decline in volunteer organizations has hit Scouts hard. Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary — all thrived in a less competitive, more secure America. People just don’t have time for them now. Parents prefer sports, which functions as after-school baby sitters. Scouting requires parents’ work, while parents want youth activities that reduce their effort.

      Sports was not a big competitor to Scouting in the past. The two coexisted quite well. Sports became a competitor when it expanded from a few hours after school into the all-embracing year-around activity that it is today. It keeps the kids regimented, so the parents can do other things.

      The shift to the video world for kids is massive, beyond our understanding. This should be researched on a Manhattan Project level of funding. We take kids out to see the wonders of the world, and can’t get them to look up from their screens. My troop required leaving the electronics in the car. But that only works for the top 1% of troops.

    2. You mentioned that some clubs are on the decline regarding attendance. I hear even the mighty and feared Masons have suffered a membership drop. And I agree that while people still want to be part of something, it’s just easier and less expensive to do an Ice Bucket Challenge or #metoo than actually driving to a lodge and learn the secret handshake.

      Speaking of which, and bear in mind I’m pretty biased, I wonder what will happen when girls finally started Scouting full time in the now former BSA. How much will they use their cellphones while supposedly doing the activities demanded from them. I imagine some girl sending sexy selfies in the Scout uniform and tweeting something in the neighborhood of “OMG! U guyz think my new badge makes me look sexy?#girlsrock #blessed #scoutsareforgurlztoo!”

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Most volunteer organizations in America are seeing a decline in membership, even more so as a percent of the total population.

        Considering these organizations — Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Scouts, Masons, etc — with “ice Bucket Challenge” in terms of what they provide individuals and the community is just sad.

        As for girls in Scouting, the rest of the world’s Scouting organizations are co-ed. They do just fine. The hysteria about coed Scouting is like the hysteria about gays in the military, or women in medicine, or any of the thousand other predictions that “the sky is falling.” The reality is quite different. Hence this post.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor

        About the decline of America’s community organizations.

        See Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community by Robert D. Putnam. This is a serious problem, and a symptom of a deeper rot.

  9. So much of this type of stuff going on nurtures my cynicism and nihilism in a big way. Much worse than when I was younger and in the aftermath of 9/11. Maybe that’s because I still had youthful optimism and I’m older now. I know that kids need help, but it seems like every “kid” environment is now going to be a hostile one.

    But on topic… I did scouting for a short time, but it quit when I found out that all they did was make crafts (Pinecone People… wtf), not wander around in the woods. The meetings were in a basement. It’s no wonder why they have trouble finding adult leaders for scouting, and why it will get worse now that girls are involved:

    “I used to coach girls’ soccer with my fiancee (now wife). I stopped because one of the girls (all of 8 years old) said: ‘I don’t have to listen to you. I can get you in trouble just by telling people you touched me.'”
    -Helen Smith in Men On Strike.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “It’s no wonder why they have trouble finding adult leaders for scouting”

      That’s backwards. The adults drive Scouting. The quality and commitment of the adults determines the nature of the program. The number of adults determines the size of the program. Their skill determines the quality of the program.

      I ran a great troop. When recruiting, the kids played while I told parents “We can get more boys than we can handle. We accept boys only with a parent willing to work. This is a coop, not a baby sitting service.” We grew to 75 scouts, the max our facility could handle, because parents who wanted real Scouting understood what we offered.

    2. Yes. That post {comment} was kinda garbled, I wanted to make an additional argument that girls today seem to be trained to Salem-Witch-Trial men with frivolous/false sexual accusations, and that dissuades men from playing the game.

      If I had a good leader I figure I would have stuck with it. The things other people say they did in Scouts sounded pretty fun. Someone on Dalrock said he got a badge involving being held underwater, yet my brothers and I remain badge-less despite our expertise in that field.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “that girls today seem to be trained to Salem-Witch-Trial men with frivolous/false sexual accusations”

        I have written about girls being raised to think that casually hitting guys is OK. You raise something I’ve wondered about, but don’t have enough to warrant a post: are girls being raised to think casually accusing a guy of harassment is OK? My guess is that the answer is yes, based on the large number of assault accusations following drunken hookups. The consequences of this could be massive. Bigger than massive.

        For more about this, see Ignore the froth. This is the core of the gender wars.

      2. Larry,

        “are girls being raised to think casually accusing a guy of harassment is OK?”

        More than harassment.

        “American University asks students hypothetical questions about sexual encounters in an online course called “Campus Clarity: Think About It.” …The material teaches that women can change their mind about consent the day after an encounter, effectively leaving women with the ability to re-write history and accuse sexual partners of inappropriate behavior despite receiving consent. …”
        — “College sex ed training calls students ‘NOOBS’ for failing module” by Laura Cooley in the Washington Examiner.

      3. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Wow. That’s stunning. Several steps beyond awful. I wish they had posted the screenshots!

        To make it clearer to readers, I edited your comment — expanding the quote and giving a full cite.

    3. Record their consent (make sure to add lines about no coercion or promises) and sign sexual consent form SCF-69.

  10. I read your link to Religion News about LDS Church and BSA.

    The author’s last line is telling. “BSA becoming more like America and LDS Church less”. If that’s the case, I fear for our nation.

  11. Pingback: Why Boy Scouts went co-ed. What America will lose. | Perry Chavers

  12. Pingback: Boy Scouts changes name of program; local councils say strategies won’t change – Harry Sullivan

  13. “The speaker, a guy, concluded with a declaration that in 20 years of co-ed camping he never once had a couple go into the woods for sex. The audience broke into spontaneous laughter. Laughing at him. I’ve never before seen an audience do that in a serious meeting.”

    That’s probably where all these camp slasher films like Friday the 13 got their sources from. Except you’re more likely to catch herpes than being murdered by Jason Vorhees.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I would be interested in learning about co-ed camping and wilderness treks (which are very different things). There are organizations that do both, and do it well. How many have amature (volunteer) staff? Do they require a higher ratio of staff to teens? Do they more closely supervise the teens?

  14. I know you’re not a fan of long diatribes in the comment section Larry so I’ll keep this as short and sweet as I can. First, I was never a Scout but growing up in the foothills of California, with 2 uncles who were AD Marines and would visit semi-regularly, I got a lot of time in the woods learning about nature and survival. It also provided me a great opportunity to connect with adult male role-models which I desperately needed as I was a victim of the 60s generation (may parents took the sex.drugs and rock&roll thing pretty serious, leaving me to be raised by my maternal grandparents).

    I now have a young son, about to be 12, and while I certainly blame myself for not being more involved with the outdoors, instead being distracted by modern life and its many commitments, I do have to wonder what the long-term health of our young men and boys is going to be as many are growing up without involved parents who are also role models, with little understanding of nature or how to appreciate the tranquility the outdoors provides, while being raised by technology who has replaced the traditional role of parenting.

    I think we are already seeing the fruits of our labor based off how our culture is rapidly changing, for both the good and the bad. Just as recently as the early 90s, I went to a high school where many country kids still came to school with a rifle or shotgun in there truck and there was no mass school shootings that I can recall which leads me to believe that a much more viable variable at play is how we are socializing (or failing to socialize) our young men.

    Current examples are currently on full-display all around the globe on what can occur when young, poorly socialized young men with little hope for the future can become. I think there is a reason why historically, young men were easy to seduce into engaging in large-scale violence against their fellow humans. The question is, how long till an entire army of young men over here get seduced by those who know how to play to their anger, leading to large-scale violence erupting within our own borders? People often forget that Hitler and the NASDP were very astute about the importance of gaining the support of the disenfranchised youth, which they manipulated quite well. We know that ended less than 15 years later with the Red Army on the outskirts of Berlin and German male population between the age group of 16-40 barely existing anymore.

  15. Neil M. Dunn

    “Parents – often under pressure from teachers – drug boys who are too spirited.”
    I am assuming that ADHD may make up at least a part of this group of boys being drugged. Have you previously written on this or possibly point me to a link. Thank you.

  16. Hi Larry,

    I was a scout for 10 years in Europe in the 1980s. My group was co-ed. We did regular wilderness treks and I think they were tough and went well, without special consideration for girls. Some things I remember:

    – There was strict gender segregation in the organization, i.e. we had all-male and all-female patrols. Physical demands were the same for boys and girls, however, and most of us considered them challenging. Most of our treks were co-ed, but patrols were self-organized during treks.

    – There was perhaps 75% males and 25% females. The drop-out rate for females was high; the girls which didn’t drop out tended to be “tougher” than average (at least to my teenage perception). There was a parallel girl scout organization which didn’t organize treks. Our troop normally had 2-3 male patrols and 1 female patrol.

    – In a typical trek, we had perhaps 2-3 leaders for 15-20 scouts. Our group leadership was also 25% female, all volunteers (i.e. scout chiefs), and it was normal to have a male and a female leader in a trek, but not always. Sleeping arrangements were always segregated by sex.

    – There were maybe some differences between the kinds of treks girls and boys enjoyed. Everyone enjoyed a regular trek. Girls were not so enthusiastic about “survival” treks (eating only what you can catch) or “approximation” treks (a kind of competitive wargame); but they were more enthusiastic about trekking with cub scouts or community service treks (walking to remote villages and volunteering for farm work; helping root out invasive species; spotting wildlife for the nature protection service; etc.).

    – There were also some differences about how patrols self-organized. I recall male patrols being more hierarchical than the female patrol, and more interested in winning our inter-patrol competition. I also recall that the female patrol was more pro-active with proposing treks (our regular treks were chosen from proposals made by each scout patrol, including route plan, logistics, etc.).

    – I remember some occasional romances, which were supervised, i.e. our leaders would speak with us if they found out. I can’t recall stories involving sex during treks or camping, but those were more conservative times, so I think that this was also due to social mores; we tended to police ourselves.

    My brother stayed on as scout chief in the 1990s, and he says things have changed, with much less overall demands (i.e. less “toughness”) and more supervision. He thinks this is both due to increased demands by parents for supervision, and more regulations (i.e. we commonly did unsupervised one-day treks, but nowadays this is illegal). He also thinks that this is a general social trend, not linked with having girls in the scouts.

    I’m not sure how this compares with the way things are done in the US, but my overall impression is that co-ed was not a limiting factor for our scouting group. I also thing that gender segregation between patrols was very important for this success. But as I said, that was in the 1980s and things have changed.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      Thank you for sharing that experience! Can you give us a bit more information about what was a “tough” trek? How long were you out? Total distance hiked? Elevation change? I assume these were backpacking treks, with everything carried.

      “about “survival” treks (eating only what you can catch)”

      That’s interesting! How long were the teens surviving on their own? What did they eat?

      “but my overall impression is that co-ed was not a limiting factor for our scouting group.”

      That would be my guess as to what we’ll see in the US. It’s not that having girls in the group limits what the group can do (as a limit). Rather, it changes what the group wants to do. High adventure has become a diminishing part of Scouting over the past generations. I expect that going co-ed will just push this trend along more.

  17. Mandy been here a while

    If girl Boy Scouts behave as girl Girl Scouts do they will all drop out after 5th grade. so at least puberty inflamed boys and girls are unlikely to be in the woods together.

    How do they plan to keep the prestige and interest?It doesn’t really sound like membership retention has been considered

    1. They aren’t combining boys and girls after 5th grade at all. They are completely separate troops. They’ll just have access to the resources that only boys have had the past 100 years.

  18. I found this particular topic very interesting after reading it this morning, and it speaks to many of the issues facing the Boy Scouts today. Admittedly I had to wait a while to reply to this to really think about the whole situation, and it really brought back a lot of thoughts I had as an Eagle Scout from 2013 onwards about the BSA.

    I loved the BSA program when I was in it. It taught me independence, hard work and dedication. The program instilled in me a love of nature and now in my 20s I have been to dozens of national parks just to hike them. It gave me great lifelong friends from my patrol, and we went to 2 of the 3 high adventure treks, and hiked over 100 miles at Philmont.

    The program isn’t what it used to be, and anyone thats been involved before knows this is true. The organization that has claimed to be “boy lead” hasn’t listened to us for years. The constant focus for them has been for the past 15 or so years to not be crucified in the media, and not to alienate anyone, regardless if they are a member or not. Individuals bent on destroying the organization, often citing that it is too old fashioned, go after it for it not being inclusive of all ideas that are acceptable by some today, often leaving Middle America without a say in the very organization they occupy.

    Make no bones about it, the very people championing the BSA transformation as a bastion of change are the same who would never put their child in the program. Things such as groups and state governments going after the BSA for the religious aspects of programs in the pursuit of making it more inclusive for all, allowing openly gay scout masters to camp with young boys and putting the safety of these boys in jeopardy, and now the allowing of girls in the program makes the program no longer an exclusive one, but a rather tragic one.

    Like before, there is no prestige in giving something away just because you showed up, and Eagle Factories are but a symptom of a bigger problem we have in America right now. the rise of the participation award, giving merit badges away based upon no merit, and the constant thought of “its my right” has caused an entire group of people to behave antithetical to American values, and to BSA as well.

    It is stated in the Scout Law Oath, “mentally awake and morally strait”, but for some reason the BSA national council hasn’t lived by either of the two for decades, and sadly the program has paid a price for it. With the LDS leaving, girls will not be able to make up the numbers lost just by them alone. There aren’t enough girls who want to join, and the program, no matter how much re-branding they do, still has the boyish feel to it. Girls have programs specifically geared to them, and not every girl wants to be a boy, no matter how many times certain individuals want to talk about equality. Most girls are not as goal oriented as men, and adding “Eagle” to a job application isn’t something they are going after from the get-go in scouting. Instead it would be a parent pushing them achieve this more than anything else.

    This is a novelty idea, and like with anything, once the newness wears off, the BSA will die along with it. If we really want to see the future of scouting, look at the Venture Crews, and any boy who looks at that and goes “Man, I really want to join that” has their head screwed on wrong. I am not yelling out that the sky is falling over girls joining the program, but the involvement of girls has serious ramifications to boys learning how to be men with the program, and this should not be taken lightly at all. I, along with my fellow former patrol members, won’t give another dime to the BSA. its not the program we grew to love, its become something completely different, hell bent on destroying itself from within.

    For BSA to thrive they must stick to the founding principals of the organization. Conservation, Character Building, and teaching boys how to be independent men. Unfortunately theres no way to go back once that bridge has been burned.

  19. Old White Guy

    There’s more than one perspective, of course. We’ve got a history of welcoming women into venues dominated by men — or not. Why might that be? Tradition, bias, women are weaker, women don’t understand machinery, women can’t do astrophysics, women can’t lead. When I was a kid, girls couldn’t play sports; they could be in the pep squad, though.

    The science — “The truth is that sex differences in math ability, spatial skills, assertiveness and competitiveness are much more a product of gender socialization and segregation. In other words, it is precisely because girls and boys spend so much time apart, practicing different skills and relational styles, that they walk into college classrooms with different types of academic confidence and career ambition.” ~ Dr. Lise Eliot, Professor of Neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University.

    Neuroscientists refute the merits of gender differences between girl and boy brains. And rather than creating more equitable schools, critics compare separating boys and girls to racially segregated schooling.

    The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are great organizations that have helped many children achieve their goals, but the benefits are not from single-sex enrollment.

    Unnecessarily sex-segregating schools and sports or after-school activities like scouting send the message that girls and boys are somehow fundamentally different – when they’re not. Such segregation perpetuates stereotypes and encourages discriminatory behavior.

    Inappropriate bias persists even in our most prestigious universities. Recent research shows both professors and male students will upgrade a male 4.0 student and downgrade a female 4.0 student in their evaluation of potential.

    Relegating the females among us to gender-appropriate position and role is not an ethically or scientifically supportable position.

    Whether the BSA manages their organization well or not is a problem ahead, of course, and it’s unlikely to be an easy path. Supporting a valid and equal opportunity for boys and girls, teaching them to relate as equals, that is an ethically sound decision.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor

      Old White Guy,

      Did you read the post? Your typical “old guy” rant does not address anything said in it.

      The only response is that given to irrelevant old guy rants at family gatherings — “Thanks for sharing, grandpa.”

      1. It’s far, far more than a “rant” Larry. Old White Guy is on to the new truth that it’s a widely held myth in biology that there is a male and female sex. It’s just because all those men in biology invented it to defend their male privilege. Those oppressive bastards! It’s widely taught and therefore as true as the germ theory of disease: https://youtu.be/kasiov0ytEc?t=11m22s . Our whole society is reorganizing/reorganized around this thinking.

        Personally, I think it’s far worse to dismiss this as a “rant” than the rant itself at this point. There will always be crazy, senile, eccentric people to tolerate but to follow them off a cliff? Who’s the crazier?

        It’s not about politics. I’m really quite liberal and always have been. But I’m not crazy, lol. And a Life Scout before sadly a move to a town without Scouting ended it for me.

      2. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “It’s far, far more than a “rant” Larry. ”

        As I said, it is a rant because he gives it as a rebuttal to this post — although his comment is relevant to this post. It’s like the old guy at dinner who responds to an invitation to cut the turkey with a rant about treatment of farm animals. “That’s nice, grandpa. Dad, please cut the turkey for us.”

        “I think it’s far worse to dismiss this as a “rant” than the rant itself at this point.”

        You are welcome to open a website to discuss it. The subject here is politics and public policy, specifically about America. Debating fringe science issues is grossly off-topic. Not something I have any interest in.

      3. Larry Kummer, Editor


        A bit of background for my reply to your comment. You might be correct about the importance of this debate among biologists. But debates among laymen about science are imo a waste of time, like watching two people shadowbox each other. I’m opposed to those on general principles.

        Science articles — summaries of research with links to primary sources — are useful. There are many of those here, where directly relevant to geopolitics (the focus of this website). People who disagree with them (e.g., “there is no Greenhouse Effect”) are invited to go to science websites, where they can talk with actual scientists.

      4. “The subject here is politics and public policy, specifically about America. Debating fringe science issues is grossly off-topic. Not something I have any interest in.”

        The video link was discussing bill C16 passed in Canada, the belief system behind it (modern feminism), part of many very similar efforts here in the US. Elsewhere, I pointed you to the mandatory college coursework allowing women the option to withdraw consent for sex after the fact and charge men with rape as an example. This is also modern feminism, which you predict will lead to “new and powerful regulatory machinery” imposed on boys in Scouting. I can imagine something coming much like this mandatory training under the guise of protecting girls in Scouting.

        If the passage of laws is not what you call politics, I’ll guess I just read and stop commenting, thanks. I like your articles but your comments make no sense at all.

      5. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Thank you for the explanation! That’s quite relevant, as you note. I’ll take a look at it!

      6. There’s a whole philosophical challenge to our past answer to “what is true” and once you win that debate, you can pass any law you want. And they will. And are. California passed SB 967, a bill that requires California’s university and college students to obtain verifiable “affirmative consent” for sexual activity. Under this bill, students must receive not just explicit consent to sexual activity but ongoing consent.

        I’d agree science debates aren’t too productive but it depends what you allow as science. Perhaps you’re bruised by the climate change (or whatever) debate. I don’t have much to say about that.

      7. Larry Kummer, Editor


        “I’d agree science debates aren’t too productive”

        I disagree vehemently. Debates between scientists are of great value. Debates between people who cosplay as scientists are a waste of time.

        “it depends what you allow as science.”

        Science is what scientists do. That’s an adequate definition here. Deeper definitions are possible, and useful in some contexts.

      8. Larry Kummer, Editor


        Thank you for flagging this issue! Bill C-16 became law on 29 June 2017. How wonderful of Canada to provide an experimental test of the latest Leftist theory. The experiments in Russia, China, and Cambodia had unpleasant results. But the Left is never deterred by failure, nor by damage to people caused by their crusades. I look forward to seeing the results!

        Bill C-16: An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code

        This enactment amends the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination. The enactment also amends the Criminal Code to extend the protection against hate propaganda set out in that Act to any section of the public that is distinguished by gender identity or expression and to clearly set out that evidence that an offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on gender identity or expression constitutes an aggravating circumstance that a court must take into consideration when it imposes a sentence.

        Wikipedia has a more detailed description.

  20. Just another example of Invading Male Space. How long before one of these Girl Scouts cries “#metoo”?

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “How long before one of these Girl Scouts cries “#metoo”?”

      The rest of the world has coed Scouting without severe problems. The US can do so as well.

  21. “There’s a whole philosophical challenge to our past answer to “what is true”…” (by the radical left)

    Here it is in a minute or two, and a larger context (from the beginning): https://youtu.be/WT0mbNvaT6Y?t=12m10s

    Scientific truth is changing to agree with political truth. I’m saying if you want to fight this, if you don’t want to go back to a world as before the enlightenment, it’s key to identify the real problem else you will strike weak blows.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      I agree that epistemology is the key to effective science. The social sciences have always had difficulty finding a firm grounding in it. As you note, their politicization in the past generation or two has severely damaged them (much of the humanities have been effectively wrecked).

      I am unconvinced that the physical sciences have similar problems, although they are under attack by SJWs. Some fields are under intense attack, such as research into physical and behavior differences between the sexes. Time will tell how that plays out.

  22. “The rest of the world has coed Scouting without severe problems. The US can do so as well.”

    The rest of the world isn’t as infected with the Feminist virus as we’ve been. Time will tell.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      “The rest of the world isn’t as infected with the Feminist virus as we’ve been.”

      It is more advanced in other nations than in the US. Canada, the UK, the Nordics, some of western Europe.

  23. It’s not Co-ed outside of Cub Scouts which has really be Co-ed all along because sisters have always been invited and involved….

    They are not combining Boys and Girls at all. They are creating new girl only troops similar to what they would join in the GSA but with a better outdoor experience. Those are the facts. They are not being debated by anyone actually involved in scouting. Or at least anyone who’s bothered to read, check, or attend a local round table meeting in the past couple of weeks.

    1. Larry Kummer, Editor


      (1) “It’s not Co-ed outside of Cub Scouts which has really be Co-ed all along because sisters have always been invited and involved…”

      Girls have not formally been in Cub Scouts, so “formally” is not correct. Also, the number of girls participating in Cub Scouts is microscopic. I ran two Cub Scout packs and was a Council Director and VP, so I’ve seen many packs. Very few had any girls. Few had more than two.

      (2) “They are creating new girl only troops similar to what they would join in the GSA”

      This is just the first step in their integration. BSA National has not worked out the details of the next step in this multi-generational process. Now girls are in Venture and Explorer programs. Now they’ll formally be in Cub Scouts. It’s unclear what the next step is (not many details yet), but probably BSA will run girls in Boy Scouts Troops on the same model commonly used for Venture. The girls’ group will be functionally part of a Troop.

      This won’t last long. It’s cumbersome and duplicative, and running Troops is already almost too complex (this is one reason the numbers are down by half from the 1973 peak). But it is an easy first step, allowing local units to customize at their own pace. Many troops won’t bother running two separate programs.

      Scouting has always allow a high degree of variability in unit operation (although much less now than in the past).

      (3) “They are not being debated by anyone actually involved in scouting.”

      I am quite wired into the Scouting leadership, and what I hear does not match what you say.

      1. Larry Kummer, Editor

        Follow-up to Richard,

        To look at this more broadly — Almost everybody I know with much experience in Scouting leadership sees the current step as moving the US closer to the model used almost everywhere else in the world (excerpt for a few Islamic nations), where they have full integration of girls.

  24. Have your little girls get ready for war an draft, it’s coming an those liberals changing this deserve it. Have them play with guns an longer. The same group that did this are destroying America

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