Nearly 1,000 girls participated in the Boy Scouts of America's first co-ed National Jamboree last month. Each of those girls should have the opportunity to become an official Boy Scout.
The girls at the Jamboree came from the Boy Scouts' Venture program, which trains male and female members to, among other things, camp, canoe and backpack.
I accompanied a Venture crew through the Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico several years ago — as a Boy Scout — and noted that the girls who participated succeeded as well as the boys in every regard.
Unlike Scouts, however, Venture crews do not organize charity events or lead troop activities, and they are not eligible to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
That difference puts girls at an unfair disadvantage to boys in character and leadership development.
Scouting teaches community values, personal character and leadership skills. Every child needs such development, and every child deserves a shot at becoming an Eagle Scout.
Becoming an Eagle Scout prepared me for the rigors of West Point (where about 40 percent of the Class of 2013 was involved in Scouting).
Being a veteran inspired me to reinvigorate civic training programs at home.
Becoming a father of two daughters has committed me to seeking to ensure that the nation's best youth program welcomes every child.
Knowing the value of Scouting, I want my daughters to become Eagle Scouts as they approach adulthood. The Boy Scouts is an organization with no peer group for girls.
Despite the similar name, the Girl Scouts is a separate but not equal group.
Girl Scouting teaches youths to be strong individuals, but Boy Scouting teaches youths to be strong leaders. The organizations have different goals, different activities, different resources and different expectations for member development.
The true counterparts to Boy Scouts are military scouts — today's combat reconnaissance units.
Robert Baden-Powell, the British founder of Scouting, was a war hero who wrote the book on both military scouting and Boy Scouting. He formed the latter to teach the values and skills of the former.
Today, a combat veteran speaking to Scouts would be disappointed that she is the only female in the room.
Women can fly combat aircraft, graduate from wilderness survival schools,, and lead other warriors through peril and hardship. Women have earned Bronze Stars, Silver Stars and Purple Hearts in war.