Girl Scouts outnumbering the boys
The number of girls joining the Scouts is outstripping boys for the first time in the movement's history.
In the 12 months to February 2011, 4,330 girls joined the Scouts compared to 3,796 boys. Female membership has seen a 6.9% rise in the past year and an 88% rise since 2005, annual membership figures released by the Scout Association show.
There are now 507,867 Scouts in the UK, up 14% from 444,059 in 2005. Of these, 66,576 are girls. In some parts of the country new female recruits outstrip boys by more than two to one.
There is now a shortage of troop leaders and a waiting list of 33,500 youngsters.
The number of Scouts aged 14 to 18 has more than doubled to nearly 40,000 in a decade as teenagers rebel against a "cotton wool" society, a spokesman said.
"People are becoming more risk averse. We are offering adventure. We encourage them to light fires, use axes and climb mountains," he said.
The Scout Association first admitted women in 1976, and from 2007 it was made compulsory for all Scout troops to admit girls. In recent years the movement has overhauled its activities programme, changed the uniform and introduced female role models in order to attract more girls, the spokesman added.
Bear Grylls, the television explorer and Chief Scout, said: "It's great to see that more and more girls are signing up to Scouting and that the movement is continuing to grow as a whole. Being a Scout represents all that is great about life - adventure, life skills and friendship - and it is no surprise that so many girls are wanting to be part of that."
He added: "It's absolutely crucial though that more adults sign up as volunteers as well, to ensure that we can keep up with the huge demand."