SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - The Boy Scouts of America will let girls into their core Boy Scout program for the first time in their 100-year history starting in 2018.
John Feick, Scout Executive with Ozark Trails, which oversees more than 8,000 scouts in Missouri and Kansas, says the demand was huge.
“I've been in the boy scouts as a professional for 34 years,” Feick said. “Over that tenure we've had a demand from our parents and our leaders, our grassroots leaders, on bringing girls into our programs.
“There can be a lot of talk about why are we doing this, but to me, it's the fact that our leaders, the people who provide the programs to our boys, overwhelmingly are talking about why don't we allow our girls in as well.”
Feick says that hundreds of girls were already essentially “auditing” Scout meetings because their brothers were enrolled and parents had nowhere else to take their daughters. The ones that took an interest in meetings might participate, but they wouldn’t get credit or awards.
One of those girls is Kailey Smith, 12, of Marshfield, MO. She wrote letters to Boy Scout HQ because she wanted to join.
“I'm very excited,” she said. “I've been waiting for this for a long time.”
Her older brothers will both be Eagle Scouts soon, and her mother, Angie, was a member of the Medical Explorers, which is a Boy Scouts program.
“They'll get to do those key things that the boys get to do,” Angie Smith said. “They get to camp out, they'll get to go to summer camp, they'll get to do those things that before they got to do in their individual units but they didn't get to do for boy scouts.”
“We have a great program,” Feick said. “It's great for boys, and it'll be great for girls.”
Feick says it’ll be up to individual sponsors and groups to determine how girls will be incorporated. Some may choose to form co-ed dens, while some may keep the girls and boys separate.