BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The Boy Scouts of America welcomed the establishment of Troop 86 in Vulcan and Troop 219 in Helena on February 1st. But these two troops are different — no boys, all girls. The first two of their kind in Central Alabama.
With the formation of these two troops, a debate has taken hold. Some think this compromises the central mission of the Boy Scouts, whereas other believe it gives girls new opportunities that they never had before.
Robert and Gayle Seabrooke are the proud parents of two children. Their 14-year-old son, Connor, is a Boy Scout, and their 12-year-old daughter, Carley, was a Girl Scout, but is not anymore.
“The Girl Scouts is a great program, and so are the Boy Scouts, but they’re different,” explains Robert Seabrooke. “Boy Scouts are more focused on outdoor activities.”
Which is right up Carley’s alley, who loves hiking, camping, and being outdoors. The Seabrookes say that Carley would look on with envy at the activities that her brother Connor would get to do, but she could not.
So, when the Boy Scouts of America allowed two all-girl troops to form in Central Alabama…
“[Carley] jumped at the opportunity! She is ecstatic,” says Gayle Seabrooke.
But not everyone is so enthusiastic. Some believe that this move jeopardizes the central mission of the boy scouts, including former Eagle Scout Rob Langford.
“The point of the Boy Scouts is to teach boys how to become men,” says Langford. “Honorable, integrity driven men. And unfortunately, that’s a part of society that is eroding and it’s just drifting over into an organization that used to be great.”
Langford blames the political climate for the change and thinks that boys won’t be able to get as much out of the program anymore.
“Having a program such as what we have launched last week really will enable us to serve the entire family,” says David Self in disagreement, the program director at Boy Scouts of America in Birmingham.
Self explains that the boy and girl troops will remain separate as a part of the Scouts BSA program for ages 11-17. With the change, Self says that everyone can learn the important values that come with being a Scout — values such as honesty, integrity, and loyalty — and the whole family can participate in the activities together.
For Robert and Gayle, however, it isn’t about politics and it isn’t about making a statement. It’s about their daughter, Carley.
“This has been a great opportunity for her,” says Robert Seabrooke. “She’s really excited. We already started her hiking merit badge last week. So, we’re already out the gate hitting it!”
Self tells CBS 42 that between the two new troops, 14 girls have signed up.