IRVING, Texas – From twilight hikes to festive launch parties and campouts, thousands of scouts, parents and volunteers will celebrate nationwide, as the Boy Scouts of America welcomes for the first time both young women and young men ages 11-17 into its most iconic program for character and leadership development.
“I have never felt more joy or exhilaration than I do right now in founding our troop,” shared Kim Foli, a soon-to-be Scoutmaster from Gainesville, Fla.
“My daughter and I knew we had to do this last year when it was announced. Scouting was the best thing I could have done with my son, and now I walk the trail with my daughter. Scout me in.”
For more than five decades, the Boy Scouts of America has been welcoming young women into its Venturing, Exploring, Sea Scouts and STEM Scouts programs. And today, the BSA is further expanding that legacy by welcoming young women into Scouts BSA.
“I could not be more excited for what this means for the next generation of leaders in our nation,” said Michael B. Surbaugh, chief scout executive.
“Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before – young women and men – will get to experience the benefits of camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness through a time-tested program that has been proven to build character and leadership.”
Locally, the first all-girl troop in the Bucktail Council was chartered with Rona Zimmerman as scoutmaster and Becky Stetson as the assistant scoutmaster.
Pictured, from left to right, are Rona Zimmerman, MacKenzie Mooney, Morgan Pirow, Jena Zimmerman, Audrey Himes, Eliana Himes and Becky Stetson.
By welcoming boys and girls into these iconic Scouting programs, the Boy Scouts of America is responding to the requests of families who, for years, have sought these opportunities for every member of their family.
“As a parent with both sons and daughters, I have seen first-hand the unique experiences available to our sons in the BSA and have been asking the BSA to create an option for our daughters every year for the last decade,” noted Alex J. Sobtzak Sr. of Spring Hill, Fla.
“I am so excited that my daughters will have the same opportunities as my sons.”
For many young women, the opportunity to join Scouts BSA comes after years of attending Scouting events with their families.
“I have been an honorary Scout since I was two when I’d hang out with my older brother. I was never able to earn the badges, but I was always there,” said Rachel P. from Sandpoint, Idaho. “Now I get to do all of that on my own.”
Through participation in all-girl troops, young women that join Scouts BSA will learn from the same program, earn the same merit badges and achieve the same advancements that boys have earned for nearly 109 years in the Boy Scout program.
“I’ve been saying for years that everything we teach boys applies equally to girls. Now, girls can have the same fun, adventure and personal growth that boys have been having,” explained Mike Harlan of Louisville, Ky.
“We are training the future leaders of our communities and nation, and those future leaders will be women and men. Helping them learn and grow through Scouting is the best investment I can make in the future of my community, our country and society.”
For more than 100 years, the pinnacle of the Scouting experience for some has been achieving the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
Starting today, young women can begin the journey toward that goal, and the BSA will ensure that all new Scouts BSA members have a fair opportunity to earn the prestigious Eagle Scout rank.
The BSA will celebrate our inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in 2020. “Scouting has been a big part of my family for many generations,” said Bryan Blair of Richland, Wash.
“Scouting isn’t just something I do; it is a fundamental part of who I am. I am an Eagle Scout and always will be. But more importantly, I am a husband and father to wonderful daughters who deserve all I have to give them. My daughters now have every opportunity I had.”
To learn more or join, visit www.Scouting.org/ScoutsBSA.