A Del Norte County woman and assistant scoutmaster for a Boy Scouts troop in Brookings is in the process of starting another troop — one that will accept girls.
Rebekah Wilson, assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 32 in Brookings, sent out a Facebook notice Monday encouraging local girls to apply to join the Boy Scouts of America. On Tuesday, she said her 12-year-old will be joining the girls’ troop and she needs at least one other to join up. However on Friday, more parents have indicated that they want their girls to take part in the new Boy Scout troop, Wilson said.
Though the Boy Scouts of America aren’t officially accepting girls until Feb. 1, Wilson said those who are interested can turn in an application and begin attending meetings “to see how it works.”
“We’ve been keeping it quiet because we had to wait so long,” Wilson said. “And now that we’re just a couple months away from being able to have the girls start, we’re trying to get the word out. So far, we might end up with more girls than boys in the troop because there’s such a huge interest.”
The announcement that the Boy Scouts of America would begin offering its program to girls came in October 2017. In 2018 girls were allowed in the Cub Scouts program, which typically caters to younger boys, and in 2019 girls will be able to earn merit badges and work through the Boy Scout ranks through to Eagle Scout, the New York Times reported in 2017.
According to Wilson, there are about 140 merit badges girls will be able to earn, including badges in climbing, animal science, geology and geocaching. They will start the program with the ranking of Scout and will be able to advance by showing that they have mastered new skills and meeting with a panel of adults called a board of review, Wilson said.
“It’s geared toward helping scouts succeed,” she said. “It’s not to put him in the hot seat, it’s allowing him to practice an actual job interview. By the time they get all the way up through the ranks to Eagle Scout, if they make it that far, when they go to get a job in the real world, they’ll already have all these practices, be more comfortable and know what to expect.”
In Del Norte County, a local Cub Scout pack, 4025, had its first girl officially start in June, said Bill Deas, leader for Cub Scout Troop Pack 10. A second girl joined the pack in September, he said.
“As we get more news out to the public we’re hoping that it’s going to grow,” he said.
Cub Scouts is for youngsters in 1st through 5th grade, Deas said.
Boy Scouts is for children between ages 11 and 18, Wilson said.
Deas described Cub Scouts as more of a family scouting experience. Sisters will attend meetings and activities with their brothers, however Boy Scouts of America’s officially accepting girls into its program will enable them to earn the same patches and badges as their brothers, Deas said.
Deas also acknowledged criticism the Boy Scouts of America received from the Girl Scouts of America after the announcement that it would accept girls.
“We want people to know that we’re not here to take girls away from the other program; we’re here to offer another option,” he said, adding that some girls may be more interested in camping than in doing crafts. “We have girls that might do both programs, which they can do. It’s about the right program for the right child.”
Wilson said she didn’t care for Girl Scouts when she was younger. At age 14, she said she joined a program called Explorer’s Scouts, which offered similar activities to Boy Scouts, but she wasn’t able to earn merit badges.
According to Wilson, the Boy Scouts of America are requiring that girls form troops separate from boys. She said a girl’s troop and boy’s troop can do activities together, but are required to have a separate scoutmaster and separate leaders.
Wilson said for her 12-year-old daughter, since she has attended Boy Scout activities with her brothers since she was about 6, she’ll be able to earn a slew of merit badges once she’s officially a scout. But it won’t be difficult for other girls either, Wilson said.
“We have seven who want to come up and join the troop,” she said. “It might take them a little bit of time to learn how to tie different knots, but they have the ability to start coming to meetings early and learning real basic skills.”
Boy Scout Troop 32 meets from 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday at Scout Hall, 414 Azalea Park Road in Brookings.
Cub Scouts meets from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday at the Crescent City Elks Lodge, 359 H Street in Crescent City. For more information about the girl’s Cub Scout troop, call Charlotte Svolos at 310-701-4864. For more information about Cub Scout Pack 10, call Deas at 707-457-2786 or find them on Facebook.