Boy Scouts start to include girls

LORDSTOWN — Ava Tallman, 7, of Leavittsburg, and Audrey Gensburg, 8, of Mineral Ridge said they wanted to give Scouting a try and learn what all scouts learn such as folding a flag, canoeing, hiking and building a fire.

Instead of joining Girl Scouts, the two elementary students joined Family Scouting, where the Boy Scouts had opened its doors to include girls in scouting programs.

Bret Gensburg, who has been involved with Boy Scouts, said Family Scouting is for boys and girls with all children referred to as scouts.

“The Girl Scouts are their own separate entity with their own programs. The Boy Scouts have their own program and last year opened to both boys and girls,” he said, noting there has been no change in the Scouting curriculum.

“Scouting is now inclusive to any youngster who has the ability to partake in the programs. Regardless of gender, boys and girls have the ability to take part in the curriculum,” Gensburg said.

The Boy Scouts of America officially allowed girls to join its signature group, for ages 11 to 17, in February, renaming the organization as “Scouts BSA.” The Cub Scouts started accepting girls into its ranks last year.

Scouting focuses on camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness.

Gensburg said while scouting is now inclusive for both boys and girls, it is not fully integrated.

He said when children arrive they take part together in a large group meeting, which includes Pledge of Allegiance and announcements.

He said in Scouting, boys and girls are part of the same Scout pack, but are in different dens and troops. They all follow the same program, however.

“The Scouts can all experience camping, canoeing and all programs offered,” Gensburg said.

He said many sponsoring organizations for Family Scouting play a determining factor whether to include boys and girls in Family Scouting programs with Lordstown Lutheran Church and Lordstown Lions Club providing support.

“They can decide one way or the other,” Gensburg said.

Rachel Gensburg, a Scout den leader, said having Family Scouting is helpful for parents with both sons and daughters since they can bring their children to the same Scouting program and receive the same curriculum.

“They are full-fledged Scouts regardless of gender and have full access to Scouting programs,” Bret Gensburg said.

Wayne Hickman, a cubmaster and parent, said the scouts meet once a week. Boys and girls start the evenings together before going to different dens based on age bracket and gender.

“They will all learn the same Scouting curriculum. When they join, they all become Scouts,” he said.

“This is a well-designed program to help young people become good leaders and better citizens. That is what we are about leadership and citizenship,” Bret Gensburg said.

“I just wanted to be a Scout,” said Tallman.

“I wanted to try something new and fun and thought Scouting would be fun,” said Audrey Gensburg.