It’s official. Girls are now a part of Boy Scouts, and Monte Vista now has some of its own female Scouts. This major change is welcomed by many, but implementing it has had its challenges.
The largest scouting organization in the United States announced back in 2017 it would soon open its program to both boys and girls. This change was made official on Feb. 1, 2019 when girls were finally able to join the organization. Boy Scouts changed its official name to Scouts BSA.
Sophomore Madison Chamberlain recently joined Scouts BSA as part of a sister troop tied to Troop 36. She has been a Scout ever since Feb. 1, 2019.
“My brother is an Eagle Scout,” Chamberlain said. “Seeing him do all these cool adventures growing up made me want to join part of the fun.”
In addition to Chamberlain, sophomore Sidney Kalin also joined Scouts BSA in hopes of participating in more outdoor activities. Kalin is also part of sister Troop 36 alongside Chamberlain.
“I’ve always enjoyed outdoor activities,” said Kalin. “Scouts BSA was the program I was looking for to do such activities.”
Sister Troop 36 originally started with five or six girls, but the troop has continuously been growing in numbers. As of now, sister Troop 36 currently has around 20 girls. In fact, along with Chamberlain and Kalin, three other girls from sister Troop 36 also attend Monte Vista.
“A lot of them were also looking for more adventure than what Girl Scouts was offering, so when they heard of the opportunity to join Scouts BSA, they took it,” Chamberlain said. “Some of them also have family who have also been involved in Scouts.”
Although it’s been almost a year since girls have joined Scouts BSA, even troops that have girl members are still struggling to balance the needs of existing boys and the new girls. Some troops are not even aware that they have a sister troop tied to them.
“Only 20% of our troop is aware that we have a sister troop,” said junior Brian Leong, who is a former SPL (Senior Patrol Leader) and a current member of Troop 805. “It’s unfortunate that only Scouts in leadership positions are aware of this. This is likely because we don’t meet together.”
Girls who have joined Scouts BSA not only have their separate troop, but they also hold their separate meetings instead of meeting with the original troop.
“We have separate meetings, but the program is the same,” Chamberlain said. “The girls’ meetings and outings are the same as the boys.”
The addition of girls to Scouts BSA hasn’t come without controversy. While many are excited for the changes that lie ahead, some think otherwise.
“I have heard lots of negative comments from former boy Scouts,” Chamberlain said. “Many boys have left Scouts BSA since girls have joined.”
On the other hand, the Scouts who remain welcome these girls with open arms.
“I’m friends with most of the boys [in our troop],” said Kalin. “We have a pretty good culture.”
While Kalin is a Scout, she is also currently a Girl Scout as well.
“Compared to Scouts BSA, Girls Scouts is more focused on the arts,” Kalin said. “A lot of girls have been quitting as well, which makes it less fun.”
Chamberlain was also a former Girl Scout for a few years when she was younger.
“Our troop fizzled out due to a lack of people,” Chamberlain said. “I never got back into it just because it wasn’t my thing. I always wanted to do more adventurous activities, which is what drew me to Scouts BSA instead.”
By joining Scouts BSA, girls now have the opportunity to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank that one can earn within the program. The Eagle Scout award is recognized as a milestone of accomplishment across the country and even the world.
The problem is Scouts spend years working toward this esteemed rank. Traditionally, Scouts begin their work in 6th grade and have until their 18th birthday to earn their Eagle award. They have to complete seven ranks in total: Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle, and each rank has its own set of requirements.
Once a Scout reaches the Life Scout ranking, the sixth ranking in Scouts, several requirements need to be met to reach the Eagle rank. Scouts must have earned 21 merit badges (which are earned by completing a series of activities), actively served as a Life Scout for six months, planned and led a service project, and participated in an Eagle Board of Review.
Since girls have just been accepted into Scouts BSA for less than a year, it’s extremely hard for the older girls to complete all the requirements in time. Scouts BSA implemented a 24-month extension for new scouts who were between 16 to 18 years old on Feb. 1, 2019.
“There’s a definite increase in workload,” Chamberlain said. “One challenge of having less time is that as a high schooler, I deal with loads of homework and extracurriculars while also having to do the bulk of the work for Scouts now.”
Sister Troop 36 is well aware of their Scouts and their busy schedules, and they have made some changes in scheduling to make Scouts BSA more flexible.
“The troop’s supportive,” Kalin said. “Our last meeting of each month is optional for us if we want to continue working on their merit badges and requirements.”
Earning their Eagle awards in a shortened time frame is a challenge for Scouts like Kalin and Chamberlain, but they welcome it.
“We’re all really close even though our ages range from 5th to 12th grade,” Chamberlain said. “We’re all working to become better citizens of the world, and the relationships we build reflect that.”