NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Boy Scouts of America says membership is sagging, in part because there aren’t enough male volunteers to lead the ranks.
So now, the boys might be testing the appeal of adding girls to the ranks.
As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, Sydney Ireland has been trying for years to join her brother’s scout troop. She found her nearby Girl Scouts too sedate and artsy and wanted more sciences and athletics the boys offered.
“My parents gave me the opportunity to join the Girl Scouts, but I really just wanted to do what my brother was doing,” she said.
She helped create an online petition, urging Boy Scouts of America to officially allow girls membership.
“I wasn’t allowed to, because I was female,” Ireland said.
But now, it seems the Boy Scouts are listening.
The group has long been plagued by declining membership. In the past two decades, the numbers have dwindled by a third to just over two million.
The Boy Scouts told CBS2 they’re now considering recruiting girls, and that already the two missions and activities are vastly similar.
But the Girl Scouts want none of it. A feud has erupted with the president of the Girl Scouts calling the Boy Scouts’ “covert campaign” to recruit girls “reckless,” “surreptitious,” and “unsettling.”
Local girl scouts reacted to boys wanting in on their success.
“We are holding our membership steady, and I believe that is because of the wide array of programs that we offer,” Cassie Rowan, with Girl Scouts of Nassau County, said. “It really allows them to gain confidence in their skills and the courage to stand up and take the lead.”
As a single sex?
“Yes, definitely,” she added. “Girls persevere when they work together.”
Some ask: Why upset the apple cart?
“Girl Scouts gives me the opportunity to do whatever I want. I can be a go-getter, I can be an innovator, I can be a risk taker, I can be a leader,” 13-year-old Madison Taylor said. “And I’ve had those experiences.”
The Boy Scouts charter was established in 1916.
“In 1916, women weren’t even allowed to vote,” Ireland said. “So it’s a pretty outdated charter. It should just be Scouts in general. I think it should just be open for everyone.”
The president of the Girl Scouts wrote to the president of the Boy Scouts, saying, “It is inherently dishonest to claim to be a ‘single gender’ organization, while simultaneously endeavoring upon a ‘co-ed’ model.”
Boy Scouts of America said in a statement it is “disheartened” to see the Girl Scouts pull away from the possibility of cooperation to help address the needs of today’s busy families.