LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - For the first time in history, girls will be able to achieve an Eagle Scout. Friday February 1st is the first day girls are allowed to join Scouts BSA troops.
“There’s nothing that we teach our boys that we can’t teach our girls,” said Allie Langley, District Executive for the Wabash Valley region of the Sagamore Council. “Things that they would value from learning.”
The Boy Scouts was founded in 1910. Cub Scouts was founded six years later. And in the fall of 2018, girls were allowed to join Cub Scouts for the first time.
“There's a number of girls who have already been in the cub scouts, the lower division of the boy scouts for kindergarten through 5th grade,” said Jeff Rattray, Troop Master of the new girls troop. “They will need a place to go soon."
Troop 801 is that next place. It will meet every Monday at Grace United Methodist Church. But is this inclusion something all of the Sagamore Council supports? Langley says yes.
"It's definitely a resounding yes,” she said. “Half of our professional staff is female and we've had youth for years, sisters tagging along to their brothers meetings or girls who wanted to get involved but just didn't have that opportunity."
Langley said many of their facilities already have the capability to have girls at camp.
“What many people don’t realize, especially if they haven’t had any involvement in scouts, is that we’ve had females in our program for years,” she said. “We’ve had boys and girls camping at the same camps for decades. So all the procedures for safety and privacy have already been established.”
Rattray’s daughter Katie is currently in the 8th grade. He said she joined Girl Scouts as soon as she was old enough.
“She would say ‘I want be scout!’ and I would say ‘Well you have to wait until you’re old enough sweetheart,’” he said.
And when they heard about the changes coming to Boy Scouts of America, they both jumped on board.
“I saw there was this opportunity and my daughter wants to be a Boy Scout, wants to be an Eagle Scout and a bunch of her friends want to do the same,” he said.
But he said that she doesn’t want to jump ship completely.
“They don’t want to leave the Girl Scouts, they want to do both,” he said. “I’d love to have a bumper sticker that says I’m proud of my Gold Award-Eagle Scout.”
The Gold Award is the Eagle Scout equivalent for Girl Scouts. According to the Girl Scouts of the USA website, only 6% of Girl Scouts earned their Gold Award in 2016. Bryan On Scouting, a blog for BSA adult leaders, said that that percentage is the same for Boy Scouts who earn their Eagle as of 2014.
Existing male troops will largely be unaffected by the inclusion of girls, because Scouts BSA is forming separate troops just for girls. Langley explained the reason for this.
"We've had research done from a national level that shows that boys and girls learn and interact in different ways," she said. "So being able to keep same sex troops allows them to connect with their peers on a better level.”
But it's all about providing life learning experiences for all.
"We are really excited to be able to provide that opportunity to every youth in our area," she said.
“You are welcome if you want to join our troop,” said Rattray.
Langley said they have five new female troops currently in the works. Anyone who is looking to join one of these new troops should search their zip code on the Scout Me In website periodically as those troops begin to form.