PHOTOS: I want ‘to be the first female Eagle Scout and beat my brother’
A Western Washington chapter of the Boy Scouts welcomed girls to scouting with a "boot camp" just for teenage girls this past weekend.
The idea behind the two-night campout is to familiarize girls with scouting skills and prepare them for leadership. As of next year, the Boy Scouts will establish separate all-female and all-male troops.
“Girl Scouts is great for people that like to do crafts, and cook and sell cookies, but that’s just not for me,” said 14-year-old Grace Kelly of Spanaway. “I like to camp outside. I like to learn practical things like how to use a knife and first aid.”
“My goal is to be the first female Eagle Scout and to beat my brother,” Kelly said.
A total of 19 girls attended the Boy Scouts of America Boot Camp, which took place at Camp Thunderbird outside Olympia. This first of its kind event was hosted by the Pacific Harbors Council.
The event comes almost a year after the directors of the national BSA organization voted unanimously for inclusivity.
Knot tying, fire building, compass reading and camp set-up were just a few of the items on the agenda for the weekend.
"We have all of these girls that are about to come into scouting and we didn't want to throw them straight into a troop and not be ready," said scout leader Amanda Lafferty of Puyallup.
This summer, young girls began participating in Cub Scouts (ages 5-10) in the Northwest and nationwide. Cub Scout packs are now designated for boys, girls-only or for both sexes. When the Boy Scouts are integrated, they will not have mixed gender troops. Older girls between the ages of 11-17 can join the Boy Scouts beginning next February.
At that time, the Boy Scouts of America plans to drop "boy" from its namesake program and re-brand it as "Scouts BSA."
"It's been overwhelmingly positive," said Lafferty about the reaction she perceives to the Boy Scouts opening their ranks to girls.
“The push to welcome girls into our programs came from within,” said Charlene Miseli, development executive for Pacific Harbors Council. “The real pressure was from families who were involved in scouting.”
“I’m the little sister of two Eagle Scouts,” said Miseli. “I came up through the program with my brothers – I did everything that they were doing."
"I had pinewood derby cars and everything, and I got no recognition or credit," said she. "But I know that I could have been an Eagle Scout.”