Girls in Boy Scouts?

As+a+member+of+Boy+Scouts+myself%2C+I+have+firsthand+experience+as+to+what+it%27s+like+to+be+a+girl+in+Boy+Scouts.+

Emma Fudacz

As a member of Boy Scouts myself, I have firsthand experience as to what it’s like to be a girl in Boy Scouts.

On Feb. 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America started letting girls into their program and rebranded as Scouts BSA. I was already a Girl Scout, but I had an older brother and mom who were already very involved in Boy Scouting, so I decided to join BSA Troop 216, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

In the last 2 months, I have earned my Eagle rank, which is the highest rank that anyone in the Scouts BSA program can achieve. Only 8% of Scouts are able to earn their Eagle, and I was among 13 girls who were a part of the Inaugural Class of Girls Eagle Scouts in our council.

At first, there were lots of skeptical people, including myself. Letting girls into a program that had been boys-only for over 100 years seemed like a bold move, and I wasn’t sure how it would work.

I was also involved in a lot of other activities and didn’t know if I wanted to add something else to my plate, especially something that seemed so time-consuming. However, being in Scouts gave me a place to do things I would have never gotten to do. Where else can a girl throw an axe, go dog sledding, or sleep in a primitive shelter overnight?

While the reaction to a change this big is never going to be 100% in your favor, the response was overwhelmingly positive from the adults and boys who were already involved in the program. The people who were not in favor of girls in the program, seemed to take more issue with the overall decision than the girls who decided to join, and were still polite to us girls.

When you have such a big shift in a program that has been one way for so long, there are lots of changes that need to happen like reprinting workbooks that used terminology like “for boys,” and “growing up as a young man” to more gender neutral terms. There was another change that I realized when I went to summer camp for the first time in 2019. There were no bathrooms that were specifically designated for girls, because in the past, there was no use for them.

In terms of rebranding to be more gender neutral, there is still work to be done, but I don’t take much issue when I see paperwork with male gendered terms. I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and rebranding such a long lasting program will take time. I do hope that one day all of the rebranding will finally be finished, so that Scouts truly feels like a gender equal program.

When I first joined Scouts, there were lots of adults in my troop that were very willing to help the girls adjust to being in the troop, but there were no older girls who had experience, or knew what to expect. Now, 2 years later, I can be that leader for the new girls who are joining, and look up to. Not only do I get to succeed, but I get to help other girls achieve their goals and reach new heights that were never an option before.