The Boy Scouts of America's effort to allow girls to join its program has come to central Illinois. In the view of one longtime scouting official, it's about time.
The first three girls seeking to become Cub Scouts in the W.D. Boyce Council submitted their applications at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 1 at the group's Peoria headquarters, according to a news release.
The girls were identified only by first name and grade in school — Aubrianna (sixth grade), Elly (second) and Keslyn (fourth). If all goes according to plan, they are to join male peers aged 7 to 10.
The Boyce Council administrates Boy Scouts of America programs in all or parts of 14 counties, including the Tri-County Area.
Last year, the Boy Scouts of America announced the opening of the Cub Scouts to girls. In May, it was revealed the Boy Scouts, for 11-through-17-year-olds, will begin to accept girls in 2019.
The name of that program also is to change next year, to the gender-neutral Scouts BSA. The name of the overall organization isn't expected to change.
But in listening to Kevin Walsh, change in whom the Boy Scouts accept almost appeared to be expected.
"Because scouting is the premier youth development program in the nation, it just makes sense that they make these opportunities available to both boys and girls," he said.
Walsh is the soon-to-be-former ranger and site manager at Ingersoll Scout Reservation, the Boyce Council camp located west of London Mills. He is to retire in December after 30 years of work at Ingersoll.
Females are no strangers to that site. Girls and women work on the Ingersoll staff. And women have served leadership roles in individual troops.
"I remember when we went to two-deep leadership on every outing, for youth protection," Walsh said. "They were allowing female leaders. The old guard said 'No, scouting is based on positive male role models.'
"We've had troops where both leaders were females. That goes against the old way of thinking."
Although Walsh certainly qualifies as a member of the old guard, and although he won't be playing host at Ingersoll to Scouts BSA members, it appears he's more than welcoming to the new Boy Scouts paradigm.
"Now there are a lot of people saying 'Girls in the Boy Scouts, that's going to ruin the whole program,'" Walsh said. "But they're trying to stay relevant with the times."
Indeed. The republic isn't likely to end once girls fully integrate with Boy Scouts.
That said, there remains value in same-sex youth educational organizations, it says here. The Girl Scouts of the USA still should have a place in modern society.
To help secure that place, perhaps Girl Scouts' and Boy Scouts' programming can be equal, for the most part. Although "Boy Scout cookies" — we'll take a box of Thin Mints, please — doesn't have quite the same ring.
Nick Vlahos writes “Nick in the Morning.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @VlahosNick.