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New age of Scouting joins boys with the girls

Julia Roth, a newly minted Cub Scout, misses nothing about being a Girl Scout.

In September, Julia, 8, of North Laurel, joined Cub Scout Pack 602, leaving behind three years of being a Girl Scout.

“I get to be with my brother,” Julia said. “We also get to do things we wouldn’t get to do in Girl Scouts.”

As a Girl Scout, Julia mostly did art projects, while in Cub Scouts, she said, she’s now outside more and participating in more interactive activities.

In 2018, the Boy Scouts of America began allowing girls to join Cub Scouts in their own single-gender dens. At the start of the new year, girls will be able to advance to Boy Scouts.

The Girl Scouts of the USA recently filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, as the latter organization is three months shy of dropping “Boy” from its namesake program and welcoming girls to earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The lawsuit was filed on Nov. 6 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The organization’s name, Boy Scouts of America, is not changing.

Instead, beginning in February, the Boy Scouts program will change to Scouts BSAto allow boys and girlsages 11 to 17 to join single-gender troops and earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout, according to its website.

Currently, girls are allowed to join Cub Scouts but cannot advance into Boy Scouts.

According to the complaint, “BSA does not have the right under federal or New York law to use terms like SCOUTS or SCOUTING by themselves in connection with services offered to girls, or to rebrand themselves as ‘the Scouts…’”

In the complaint, Girls Scouts of the USA states it only has “the right to use GIRLS SCOUTS and SCOUTS trademarks with leadership development services for girls.”

The Girl Scouts of the USA said it's imperative that the court take action “in order to prevent further damage to GSUSA’s trademark and preserve their goodwill,” according to the complaint.

In a statement, the Girl Scouts of the USA said “the actions Girl Scouts took are in keeping with standard practice in any field, and we did what any brand, company, corporation, or organization would do to protect its intellectual property, the value of its brand in the marketplace, and to defend its good name.”

The Girls Scouts of the USA did not comment further, citing pending litigation.

The Boy Scouts of America are reviewing the lawsuit “carefully.”

“Our decision to expand our program offerings for girls came after years of requests from families who wanted the option of the BSA’s character- and leadership-development programs for their children – boys and girls,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement. “We believe that we owe it to our current and future members to offer families the options they want.”

Violet M. Apple, the CEO of The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, said in a statement, “[W]hile we don’t in any way want to dictate what is best for families, what we do know is that Girl Scouts is filled with female leaders and role models that young girls can look up to and aspire to be.

“These interaction[s] shorten the gap between what they aspire to be by showing girls what women, who once were girls like them, can achieve,” Apple said.

The Girl Scouts of Central Maryland, established in 1962, serves 24,000 girls between 2,000 troops in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, according to its website.

Founded in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has more than 2.4 million active youth participants and nearly one million adult volunteers, according to its website. Since its inception, more than 110 million Americans have been part of Boy Scouts programs.

In the past five years, the Boy Scouts of America has undergone several changes, such as accepting openly gay and transgender youths and gay Scout leaders into the organization.

The Boy Scouts of America said “there is an opportunity for both organizations to serve youth in our communities.”

Pack 602 in the Laurel area has 24 Scouts, 14 boys and 10 girls, and meets at Emmanuel United Methodist Church on Scaggsville Road.

Children in kindergarten through fifth grade can participate in Pack 602. They join Boy Scouts at ages 11 to 17.

The pack was officially chartered in July, after breaking off of another pack to become a Family Scouting pack, according to Leader Lonnie Woodward.

“When Family Scouting came about, many people from the pack wanted an option to offer it for girls,” Woodward said.

Pack 620 was ““chartered for the express purpose of exploring the Cub Scouts Family Scouting program, providing children of all genders with the opportunity to learn and grow through the unique experiences that Cub Scouts provides,” according to its website.

The move to Family Scouting received more encouragement and support than Woodward expected.

“We wanted to stand up and say ‘We welcome all kids, we don’t discriminate. We welcome all kids regardless of gender and sexuality,’” Woodward said.

For those with pushback about allowing girls into the Boys Scouts, “most of them don’t understand how the program works,” Woodward said.

“We are not trying to take people away from Girl Scouts or other Scouting programs,” Woodward said. “We’re just another option.”

Some of Woodward’s Scouts are in both Cub and Girl Scouts, he said.

Jennifer Renne, of North Laurel, was her daughter Julia’s former Girl Scout Troop leader. Now, she’s Julia’s Cub Scout leader.

Renne leads the girls through a formal program where they have “a sense of pride of learning the same things as boys.”

Over their years in Cub Scouts, the girls will learn carving, how to start a fire and gain an appreciation for nature, such as learning about endangered species, Renne said.

“It’s [about] children learning skills that all children should learn and values all children should learn,” she said.

Renne’s son Jackson, 11, is in his second year of Scouting with Pack 602.

Having the one organization for boys and girls helps families schedules, as there’s only one meeting to get however many children to and one campout that the entire family can attend, Woodward said.

Woodward, a father of six, has five of his children, including his daughter, involved in Cub and Boy Scouts. His infant son is a little too young to join in, just yet, he said.

Dens in 602 meet twice a month separately with the girls dens break off from the boys dens, and once a month the entire pack comes together for a meeting.

Activities for Pack 602 include family campouts, service projects, canned food drives, Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and a pinewood derby, featuring gravity-powered car races.

Meghan Sommers, of South Laurel, and her 6-year-old daughter Anya are part of Pack 602. Sommers is an assistant den leader with Renne.

Anya was given the option to either join Cub Scouts or Girl Scouts, ultimately joining Cub Scouts, Sommers said.

“For me, I like it because when my sons are older, we can all be together,” said Sommers, who has three children.

Having Family Scouting is “amazing for busy families,” Sommers said. “It’s a rare occasions for families to be at everything together.”

jnocera@baltsun.com

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