Columbia-area Boy Scout leaders say they are excited about changes that will allow girls to join Scout troops for the first time.
Doug Stone, executive of the Scouts' Indian Waters Council in the Midlands, said Wednesday's decision was in line with what local Scout families have said they wanted.
The Scouts gathered input from families in South Carolina and across the country, and found a desire for programs that can include all of a family’s children.
"Families today are so stretched for time, there's precious little to spend with your children," Stone said. "People will bring boys to Girl Scouts (events) and girls to Cub Scouts."
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Locally, Scouts already accept girls in their Venturing and Explorers programs. Now, Stone says they plan to admit younger girls into Cub Scouts programs in the 2018 school year.
Starting in 2019, local troops plan to offer options for middle and high school-age girls to participate. But Stone says the council plans to keep troops single-gender.
"One thing we heard was to keep Boy Scouts just for boys," he said.
Stone didn't think the Boy Scouts' new options will create too much competition with the Girl Scouts, which has been critical of the move. He said the Boy Scouts' offerings would be different from Girl Scout programs.
Some families hardly can wait for the new program to start next year, Stone said.
"One person called and said he was so excited that their niece would be eligible to join,” Stone said. “He wanted to go ahead and sign the application today."