Scouts still seen as male group despite many girl members



vince valotta/torstar news service


Andrea Lee has been in scouts for five years now. Ten years after the organization went co-ed, many people still think of the Scouts as a boys-only club.


It’s Scouts. Not Boy Scouts. Scouts.

That’s the message Peter Sundborg, the executive director of the Greater Toronto Council, Scouts Canada, wants to get out to community leaders and the media. Ten years after the organization went co-ed, officially admitting girls into what had been a boys-only organization since 1907, people still can’t seem to give up on the old name.

"They all seem to think that we’re only for boys," says Sundborg, who sent out an e-mail in February, to approximately 500 people in business and education and the media, asking them to correct the misperception of Scouts as a boys-only club.

"I find many people are still shocked," says Marlene Harris, 26, now the central Canada deputy executive commissioner for youth, but a member of Scouts Canada since she was 14.

"My friends think it’s for boys," says Andrea Lee, 15, in her fifth year of Scouts.

So what makes Scouts so hard to say?

"The idea of Boy Scouts is deeply implanted in our Anglo-Celtic psyches," said Jack Chambers, professor of linguistics at the University of Toronto. "The obedient, badge-earning, upstanding teenaged citizen Scout is one of our cultural stereotypes."


  • Among adult leadership, there is now an equal number of men and women, and among the youth members like Beavers and Scouts and Venturers, 22 per cent of members are girls.