A group of Roy residents are putting together and all-girl Boy Scouts of America troop.
“I was in Girl Scouts for a couple years but it only taught how to sweep the floor and how to set the table,” said Hailey Van Elsacher, 17. “I was like, ‘I don’t need these things. I can learn them at home.’”
She said that she wanted more exciting trails in her future, and this was her vehicle to do it.
“I’m looking forward to new adventures, because I am a very adventurous person,” Van Elsacher said. “So hopefully I’ll get to have more fun going on more camping trips and going hiking, fishing, things like that.”
Not so long ago, girls weren’t allowed in the Boy Scouts of America, but nearly two years ago, all that changed.
“The decision was made nationwide to welcome girls into scouting at all levels,” said Steven Shumaker, who works for Pacific Harbors Council for Boy Scouts of America as a district executive. “We are doing it in increments, so starting on Jan. 1 of 2019 we’ll have girls in the program for ages kindergarten through fifth grade.
“And then starting this coming February we will welcome girls into our older program, which will be called Scouts BSA,” Shumaker continued. “They’ll be in troops with the same structure and organization as the troops have always had, for 108 years with the boys.”
Tracy Fanning, who will be the committee chairperson of the new troop, organizes and oversees the committee that makes sure everything runs as planned for the troop.
According to Fanning, the youngest scouts of the troop-to-be have a shot at becoming one of the first female Eagle Scouts. Shumaker, who has a 13-year-old daughter that will be joining the troop, is excited about the prospect.
“They’ll get the chance to make Eagle Scout if they meet the standards,” Shumaker said. “It’s an incredible opportunity that we think every kid should have.”
Indeed, Shumaker said that adding girls to the Boy Scouts of America is as much about equal opportunity as it is about anything else.
“Everybody knows how prestigious the rank of Eagle Scout is,” Shumaker said. “If you put Eagle Scout on a job application, it already gets you a second look in most cases. For 108 years, that’s been the case… So we’re opening that up and welcoming girls in — we know that they can do the skills, we know that they can live the values, but now they can get recognized for doing those things.”
In fact, Colleen Fanning, 14, is one of the girls that will have enough time left in her scouting career to possibly make Eagle Scout. That’s because the rank requires time held in multiple positions in the troop before advancement.
“I would like to have the experience that other people have not over the years,” Colleen said. “And it just looks like so much fun watching my brother do it, with him getting his Eagle Scout. I really want to do it so I can show others that it’s not that hard. It looks hard, but everybody can try it.”
Tracy Fanning said that Colleen and many of her friends are in Girl Scouts together and that Scouts BSA is not going to stand in the way of their success in the other program.
“We are encouraging our girls to do both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” Tracy Fanning said. “So my daughter and her friends are in Girl Scout troop 43891. They are going to be getting their Girl Scout Gold Award and their Eagle Scout. That is our goal for our girls.”
Van Elsacher, on the other hand, will be sticking with Scouts BSA. She said she thinks that Girl Scouts will kind of weigh the other girls down from meeting their goals in Scouts BSA.
“It is going to be a good experience for a lot of the girls, because I feel like some of them are kind of trapped in Girl Scouts, because of either familial reasons or they think that’s all they can do. So if they joined Boy Scouts, I think it will be a really good thing to do. It will let them expand and get some really good life skills.”