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Shenandoah Area Council Volunteers and Leaders:

There have been recent discussions and postings on social media in regards to adding girls to the Scouting program.  I feel, as Scout Executive, that it is critical to let our community know exactly what is going on and apologize for other external communications not being clear and concise while taking efforts to not jeopardize this council nor its board in the directions it was given.

  • At the Annual National Meeting held May 26th – 28th, Mike Surbaugh made a presentation on current research around the topic of making Scouting more accessible to all family members.  Multiple times it was made clear that this was for discussion purposes only with that group.
  • On June 29th – Scout Executives received a follow up from the meeting with answers to common questions received from those national board members in regards to the discussion.
  • Later that week – all Scout Executives were given a packet with instructions and secure passwords to conduct a controlled discussion and access to a recording of the presentation for Council level stakeholders by invitation only.
  • We sent invitations out on July 18th to our Council Level Stakeholders (All Executive Board Members and All Charter Representatives).
  • This discussion was set for and held on August 9th.
  • We have now discovered that the video and discussions were leaked out through social media by other groups including a survey sent to random leader emails from the National Office itself without any notification to us at the local level. 

I have decided to issue the key points from the discussion packet to help clear up any misconceptions.  It is important to be clear about what this is and what it is not. 

  • Family Programming is NOT already decided.  While the discussion was at the National Meeting, no decisions were reached beyond expanding the conversation to charter partners.
  • Family Programming is NOT Co-ed.  The discussion is how to expand programs while maintaining single-gender offerings.
  • Family Programming is NOT changing who we are.  This is just an option for us to consider as we seek to serve more youth and families within the community.  The data shows this is prompted by input from families as an opportunity not an obligation.
  • Family Programming is NOT a threat to our charter.
  • Family Programming IS a new entry point.  We are looking for a model to allow Scouting for the entire family.
  • Family Programming IS a request from families.  Data has told us that the market wants full family programming and that several local BSA programs have already established new pathways.  There is a demand for BSA quality programming and leadership skills to be incorporated across the entire family.
  • Family Programming IS optional to charter partners.  Our partners will continue to choose which programs they offer.
  • Family Programming IS an opportunity to offer Scouting to the entire family.  It is a way to grow the organization by bringing Scouting values and leadership of the Oath and Law to more youth.
  • Family Programming IS only a discussion.  Feedback provided is not a representation of councils, it is an organizational level discussion.

Thank you for your dedication and involvement and we will continue to keep you informed with the facts.  Do not hesitate to reach out to your board or district executive before assuming anything you may see or hear from social media feeds.


Yours in Scouting,

Stuart A. Williams

Scout Executive/CEO


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