Feb. 1, 2020, marks the first anniversary of the allowance of girls into the Scouts BSA program, formerly known as Boy Scouts. Since that day in 2019, over 77,000 girls have joined the program, including me. I am a founding member of Troop 4301 (T4301), along with five other girls.
Although T4301 is a single-gender troop, we receive support from our counterparts at Troop 301 (T301), a boys troop. Almost all of our meetings and outings are together, and we have a joint Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC).
However, these coed activities do not imply dependence. During meetings, T301 and T4301 have different agendas, and on outings, their meal plans are independent of each other. The only time the boys step in is if they are teaching the girls a useful skill or giving them advice; otherwise, each troop does their own thing. Contrary to complaints indicating otherwise, girls and boys can co-exist in Scouts BSA.
I joined Scouts BSA because it gave me experiences that my Girl Scout troop did not offer. For example, my Girl Scout troop only went camping once a year; with Scouts BSA, there are outings every month. I felt as though my Girl Scout troop did not hold my interests at heart, and I became less involved with every year that passed.
Also, the Girl Scout Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards do not hold the same prestige as the Eagle Scout Award. Most people I know, Scout or not, have never heard of the Gold Award, but recognize the name of the Eagle Scout Award. Scouts BSA seemed like a new opportunity for me, and I felt I was ready to take it on. I have found that my time with Scouts BSA has changed me into a more experienced leader and team player.
One of my first outings as a member of Scouts BSA was a desert night hike in Tumey Hills, California. For many members of my troop, this was their first backpacking trip, and not everyone was handling it well. I stayed in the back of the group and made sure that everyone was staying hydrated and motivated on the trail. One part of the hike was to navigate down a mountain without the map, and I found a way down that was not as steep as other routes.
This trip was my first taste of leadership in Scouts BSA, as I was the Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) of my troop at the time. The difficulty of this outing taught me that leadership goes beyond unifying your troop; it involves making decisions that are bigger than yourself.
My most recent outing with Scouts BSA was in Yosemite National Park. The Yosemite trip is a troop tradition; it happens every year during the three-day weekend over Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The highlight of this tradition is a cooking competition amongst the patrols, and this was T4301’s first year competing.
What made this outing special to me was not that T4301 won the cooking competition (although that was pretty great) or the amazing views I got to see on the day hike. The special part was that I got to know members of both troops better than I ever had before, whether through playing cards or through making sure that our food didn’t burn. Ending my first year of Scouting with this event taught me that an essential part of being a team player is knowing the people you are working with.
Although leadership and teamwork skills are a bonus, the true gifts of Scouting are the memories a Scout receives from their experiences. I love telling my friends about the cool things I get to do as a member of Scouts BSA, and I do not regret joining the program at all. Sometimes, you have to do the things no one wants to do, like cleaning the pot with burnt cheese inside. However, the positive memories that are shared with friends are more valuable than any negative experience.
My Scouting experience has shaped me into who I am today, and other girls can benefit from a Scouting experience like mine too. May the next year bring new troop members and positive experiences to Scouts BSA.