DUBUQUE – It’s the question Matt Klutzaritz heard time and time again leading up to the big announcement.
“‘Is there really anything in that book that only boys…would be interested in?'”
And the response was obvious.
“The answer was no.”
Now, Klutzaritz has been hearing a much different question since the news broke, a question that puts a huge smile on his face.
“‘When can I sign my daughter up?'”
Starting in 2018, girls will be able to join the Boy Scouts.
As Scout Executive for the Northeast Iowa Council, Klutzaritz knows how much support is behind the decision.
“The biggest proponents for this are our families who are already in Boy Scouts,” he said.
The change might come as a surprise to some, but an even bigger shock might be the understated role girls have already had within the Boy Scouts for decades.
“Our Venturing program and our Exploring program [have] teenage girls…and they’ve been around probably since the 70s,” said Klutzaritz.
But for those not in those two programs, there used to be no options for girls interested in Boy Scout activities.
Take, for instance, Matilda, a five year-old girl whose brother Miles is a Boy Scout.
She’s not old enough to join any Scout programs, but by the time she turns seven, the minimum required age to join the Cub Scouts, she’ll be able to do all the things her brother can do–like go camping.
And little Matilda knows how much fun camping can be.
“I went camping last year!” she said with excitement.
The announcement will solve a major issue for Matilda and her family.
Before the change, families with both a son and a daughter weren’t able to sign their children up for the same troop, making it difficult on them to keep up with two different troops in two separate programs.
And if girls did come along, they weren’t able to participate to the extent that boys were.
“There are lots of packs already [where] the little sister comes with…and they try to let her do as much as possible…but they’re not a full-fledged member,” said Klutzaritz.
But soon enough, girls will be able to anything that boys can do within the program–even attain the penultimate Boy Scout honor.
“[In] 2019, we’ll learn more about an older girl program…[and] those girls will be able to earn the Eagle [Scout] Award.”
That means that one day, little Matilda could be earning the highest achievement in Boy Scouts.
Ben Friedman is an anchor and associate producer for LCTV News. He is a sophomore at Loras College from Ankeny, Iowa. Ben enjoys LCTV because it gives him an opportunity to combine creativity and storytelling in a way that helps him provide value to his community.