Some Girls Just Wanna Be Eagle Scouts
Members of Troop 13, newly formed all-girl Scouts BSA troop in flag-raising exercises at the mound on Memorial Day. Photo by Steve Lieman
by Mary Swansburg
In February 2019 the Scouts BSA program was formed under the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts BSA has taken the place of what has been known for generations as the Boy Scouts of America. Scouts BSA is open to all allowing everyone to have an equal opportunity to rise to the highest rank, Eagle Scout. Troop 13 of Groton is one of the first all-girls troops in the country formed under Scouts BSA.
According to the older members of Troop 13, before Scouts BSA there were other programs under the Boy Scouts of America that were coed and allowed girls to participate in typical Boy Scout activities.
However, these programs did not allow for members to advance in the way that members of Scouts BSA do, with the opportunity to rise to the rank of Eagle Scout. Members of Troop 13 emphasized that that once Scouts BSA was created, Troop 13 formed “as soon as we could.”
Some troop members noted that growing up they watched their male older siblings participate in Boy Scouts and had always been interested in participating but were unable to until the recent change. Others mentioned the uniqueness and variety of opportunities of the Scouts BSA program and how it appealed to them more than other activities or programs.
One of the biggest and most appealing differences between Scouts BSA and other programs is that Scouts BSA is structured around youth leadership. Grace, 16, described the dynamic by explaining, “There are adult leaders in the troops but it’s centered upon the scouts and the kids being the leaders of the troop. We decide what we want to do and how to lead the other members to be better people.”
The scouts describe a “patrol method” of organization within the group. They all have different roles and responsibilities. Each troop member is expected to hold herself and each other accountable for completing their tasks, whether it is teaching the lesson that day or taking care of equipment. Along with the difference in leadership opportunities, the girls also mentioned they had the opportunity to experience outdoor activities that were more tailored to their interests, such as sports, hiking, and camping.
Troop Leader Erin Keany explained that sometimes other programs, especially all girl groups, have trouble finding leaders that are willing to take the kids to these outdoor activities because they may lack amenities. There are sometimes no bathrooms and showers which is where some adults, understandably, draw the line. Keany emphasized how, as a part of Scouts BSA, where the program is based around the outdoors, Troop 13 takes special care to make sure this is not the case for its members. She explains, “That’s really what this group is good at, making sure we have adults to help make sure that the kids get those experiences.”
Katherine, age 13, commented on the variety of opportunities that are offered through the program with the use of ranks and personal merit badges saying, “I feel like it’s a very flexible program. You can just go for the campouts or just for the fun of it but you can also push yourself and try to get different ranks and merit badges. It’s really about what you’re up for and that makes it nice because people can do different things.”
Last Monday night was Troop 13’s last meeting of the school year, but when they begin again in September, they will be very focused on recruitment. The ages currently range from 10 to 16 which may seem to be a large age range, but it allows for a different dynamic than kids expereience in school. There is a sense of mentorship between the older members and the younger ones, and the group as a whole has a very special and unique connection.
Troop 13 is an remarkably bright and vibrant group. They are paving the way for all kids to explore outdoor activities, learn life skills, and create connections they would be hard pressed to find anywhere else. They are, without a doubt, a group that the town of Groton can be proud of.