The latest iteration of Boy Scouts of America membership standards has resulted in the acceptance of girls into the traditionally exclusively male organization. Drifting from BSA’s founder, Lord Baden Powell’s original intent, hoping to land on the firmament of gender neutrality, the decision is not without question.
As a graduate of an all-girl high school, I cannot speak enough to the benefits of single-sex environment during a child’s formative years. This positive, confidence-building experience has much to do with my commitment to an all-girl environment where girls can grow and thrive. In addition, my dedication to the importance of faith as the basis of youth character development programs led to the founding of the American Heritage Girls in 1995.
AHG is designed to celebrate girlhood in every way. AHG celebrates and comes alongside a girl as she sets off on the journey of discovering who she is and whose she is. AHG provides opportunities to learn life skills, to grow in their team-building and relational skills, to flex their leadership muscle, to test their grit through high adventure outdoor activities and survival skills, as well as to grow spiritually.
American Heritage Girls equips girls with a space made specifically for them with their physical, mental, social, spiritual and emotional needs in mind. Studies show girls lose confidence in themselves 3.5 times faster than boys their age in the time between elementary and high school. By participating in programs created around their specific needs in a space where they are the sole focus, girls are able to grow in confidence and thrive in a healthy and sustainable way. Why would we take this opportunity away from our girls by lumping them into a boy-focused experience? For convenience? Our girls deserve more.
Celebrating life’s victories and disappointments with female peers who understand and relate to you is a precious privilege that comes with doing life together. Sharing vulnerabilities without worrying about popularity or “what the boys may think,” helps keep a girl focused on what God has for her perfectly designed life.
Allowing boys to have their distinct and unique time to grow into men without concerns around impressing girls is important too. Knowing that God has created us male and female and that each sex has unique and amazing attributes that contribute to the greater good helps character development programs like AHG, remain laser-focused on the sex they are uniquely designed to serve.
In 2013, parents pleaded with AHG to start American Heritage Boys. After prayer and consultation, it was clear that our missive was to continue to work with girls and their unique abilities and challenges, leaving the boys’ organization to men to design.
It seems rather simple. Women know the challenges of girlhood and men know the challenges of boyhood.
Clearly boys and girls are different and unique. God announced this in the first chapter of the first book of the Holy Scriptures, and there is no doubt that this fact remains true today. For this reason, American Heritage Girls remains committed to celebrating girlhood and her journey of discovery of who she is and whose she is today and in the future.
Think of it this way—your girl can certainly wear her older brother’s hiking boots, but she’s going to be much more comfortable, come away with much fewer blisters, and achieve greater success if she’s wearing boots that are specific to her foot’s shape and size. Put simply, BSA was created around the needs of boys, and that fundamental principle won’t change in the wake of girls joining their ranks. American Heritage Girls has been, is, and always will be a Program solely for girls. AHG is the girl-tailored and Christ-centered answer to the incredible need for meaningful and worthwhile programming for girls today.
American Heritage Girls’ girl-centered Program is working! We celebrate nearly 50,000 members in over 1,000 Troops across the US and in 13 other countries via our Trailblazer Program. Record numbers of girls are part of the AHG Program and many go on to pursue the Stars & Stripes Award, AHG’s highest honor. Dozens of Resident Camps are scheduled this summer where faith, service, and fun will be on full display. We believe that God planted the seed for American Heritage Girls and that he will continue to provide families who are seeking Christ-centered character development for girls.
By: Patti Garibay, Executive Director and Founder of American Heritage Girls
To learn more about the American Heritage Girls Program, visit: www.americanheritagegirls.org