Inflaming a century-old and mostly cordial rivalry, the president of the Girl Scouts of the USA is accusing the Boy Scouts of seeking to covertly recruit girls into their programs while disparaging the Girl Scouts' operations. "I formally request that your organization stay focused on serving the 90% of American boys not currently participating in Boy Scouts ... and not consider expanding to recruit girls," wrote GSUSA President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan in a letter sent this week to the president of the Boy Scouts of America, Randall Stephenson. Top leaders of the two youth organizations, both struggling to stem membership declines, conferred this month about possibilities for coordination.
But Hopinkah Hannan, in her letter, said she came away from that discussion feeling the Boy Scouts had already committed to an expansion of coed programs that would damage the Girl Scouts, the AP reports. The tough tone of her letter dismayed Boy Scout leaders, said BSA spokeswoman Effie Delimarkos. "We are disheartened to see the Girl Scouts pull away from the possibility of cooperation to help address the needs of today's busy families," she said Wednesday. She said the BSA—in response to requests from families—"has been exploring the benefits of bringing Scouting to every member of the family—boys and girls," though no final decision has been made on expanding coed programs. (Read more Girl Scouts stories.)