Older girls can now join scout troops. Last week, girls were welcomed into Scouts BSA. An all-girl troop is underway in Oak Ridge. They meet at First Presbyterian Church.
Beginning February 1, girl troops and boy troops can meet together in opening and closing ceremonies. While they can’t share the same scoutmaster, they can meet at the same time and same place.
“I think it is thrilling and marvelous. We are so excited to be on the leading edge of this. The congregation is thrilled,” said Rev. Sharon Youngs.
Girls who join will learn from the same book as the boys and earn the same merit badges under the new program name called Scouts BSA. Girls ages 11 to 17 are welcome. Many had once tagged along with brothers who were scouts.
“My brother is a Boy Scout. When I was younger I would go to the family campouts that he did,” said new scout Becca Seay.
Now Becca will be able to go on her own campouts with other girls. Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before young women and men will experience the benefits of camaraderie, self-reliance, leadership and character development. Girls joined this troop for a number of reasons.
“Well, I wanted to meet other girls my age that were into more nature and adventure oriented thing,” said Ivy Hill.
“So when I heard there was something called Scouts where you go camping and hiking, it was like, wow, this is all that I want to do. It’s safe and I just really think I’m going to have fun,” said Brooklyn Henderson.
It was last summer when younger girls were welcomed into Cub Scouts. Boys meet in their patrols and girls in their separate patrols. Since scouting is family oriented, the focus is on families coming together so everyone can have fun.
For the older girls, so far several other girl troops have been formed in East Tennessee.
“We were excited to be able to bring them in to teach them all the skills and character development and citizenship that Scouts is all about,” said Scoutmaster Jason Cheney.
“My goal is to become an Eagle Scout,” said Haley Snyder. joined the Cub Scout program in East Tennessee. That’s more than the other five Boy Scout councils in Tennessee.
For more than 20 years, girls have been participating in the older co-ed Venturing Program, so girls in scouting is not new. What is new is the name change to the program for 11- to 17-year-olds. Instead of the Boy Scout program, it’s now called Scouts BSA. However, the parent organization of Scouts BSA has not changed. It’s still called the Boy Scouts of America.
The local council is anticipating more girl troops forming over the next few months. A love of the outdoors is a big attraction for the area.