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Local council welcomes Boys Scouts of America's decision to admit girls

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A shake up of historic proportions will soon welcome girls among the ranks in the Boy Scouts of America.

The organization’s board of directors voted unanimously to allow girls to become Cub Scouts.

“Here’s an opportunity for us to have the whole family join scouting,” said Robert Hemmelgarn, Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America’s LaSalle Council. “And so now it is brother and sister and everybody else, I think it’s a good thing.”

Some scouts in Michiana believe the transition will be a smooth one because the values of the organization aren’t gender-exclusive.

Hemmelgarn says this change aligns with the Boy Scouts’ mission of preparing young folks to make ethical and moral choices.

So he and the Boy Scouts of America’s LaSalle Council welcomed the news.

“Moving forward we’re building again, which is an exciting time,” he said.

The chapter is home to more than 6,000 boys across eight counties.

And even before this announcement, interest in membership wasn’t an issue.

“Last year we grew a little over two percent and retention in hanging on to those kids, that’s going really well,” said Hemmelgarn.

While the prospects of expanding excite the chapter, others feel it’s a missed opportunity.

“The first impulse for Boy Scouts not to work directly with Girl Scouts is a bit saddening,” said Ruth Strawser, the director of Brand and Strategy Management for the Girls Scouts.

While Strawser believes this opportunity will be of help to some girls,  she appreciates the value of having a single-gender experience.

“To have a place where they can feel safe and be able to work with other girls as they’re developing their skills, taking risks, or learning to be a leader is something that’s important and it’s just as important for boys to have that environment too,” she said.

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