Boy Scouts open to girls ages 11 to 17 in February

Girls grades K-5 began joining Cub Scouts last year

Beginning in February, Maui County girls ages 11 to 17 may join the Boy Scouts, part of a nationwide change that began in October 2017 when the Boy Scouts announced that it would accept girls into the program.

The Boy Scouts program name for older members will also change to Scouts BSA in February. The Cub Scouts name remains.

Starting last year, the Cub Scouts program began admitting girls from kindergarten to 5th grade.

In Maui County, about one dozen girls have joined the Cub Scouts since August, said Duc Button, Maui County Scout executive/chief executive officer. Girls are participating in the Cub Scouts in Kula, Wailuku and Kahului. In the state, about 400 girls have joined the Cub Scouts.

Both boys and girls who are part of the older contingent, or Scouts BSA, will each participate in gender-specific troops with their own Scoutmasters. Boys will be in boy troops and girls in girls troops, Button said.

Boys and girls in the Scouts BSA program will be known as “Scouts.”

The first Maui County girls troop is expected to organize in Kahului to serve Central Maui, Button added.

“Girls from all over the island will be welcome, however the troop will be based in Central Maui. We hope to form more troops throughout the island later in 2019 and in 2020 as the Cub Scout program for girls continues to grow,” Button said in an email.

Accepting girls into the program is just one of the major changes that have been going on locally and nationally in the Boy Scout program.

Prior to taking in girls, the Boy Scouts admitted openly gay and transgender members and allowed openly gay adult leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also announced it will separate from the Scouting program at the end of the year. The Mormon church and Scouting have been affiliated for more than 100 years.

Because of the loss of the LDS members, or around 340 Mormon Scouts in the 853-member program, the Maui County Boy Scout Council is considering merging with the larger Aloha Council based on Oahu. It oversees 10,500 Scouts on Oahu, Hawaii island, Kauai, Guam and American Samoa.

At a public meeting on Jan. 8, Maui Scouting parents and supporters expressed concern over Maui County’s autonomy and control over its programs. The Maui County Council formed in 1920.

But Maui officials pointed to approximately $150,000 of savings annually if the merger goes through, along with options on growing the Maui program with the help of the Aloha Council.

Final decisions on a merger are scheduled for the beginning of February.

In the Scouts BSA program, girls and boys will work in their respective troops, developing leadership skills, performing community service, going camping and working toward earning some of the 136 merit badges offered by the Scouts BSA program, Button said.

Both girls and boys will have the opportunity to earn ranks and advance toward becoming an Eagle Scout, he added.

“Ultimately, we are offering the same program to boys and girls but preserving the benefits of single-gender experiences.”

Troops have the option of forming what is called a linked troop. This is where the same chartering organization can have both a boy and girl troop, each with their own Scoutmasters, but with a common Troop Committee.

This will allow for equipment sharing and collaboration on some activities, Button said.

Families of boys and girls interested in Cub Scouts and/or Scouts BSA programs may call Button at 244-3724 or email duc.button@scouting.org.

* Melissa Tanji can be reached at mtanji@mauinews.com.

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