PHOTOS: Girls can officially join the Boy Scouts of America

Organization changes name to Scouts BSA

By Cathleigh Winningham - Producer, Amanda Castro - Reporter/Anchor

It's a history-making moment for Scouts BSA, the organization traditionally known as the Boy Scouts of America.

As of Friday, girls can now join the ranks and earn the same merit badges as boys. 

Girls ages 11-17 can join Scouts BSA and earn the rank of Eagle Scout. 

Scout Master Wendy Thomas is leading a troop of six girls in Apopka. She said they can't wait for Trailblazer Weekend, the first official event girls are participating in, at Camp Joy in Orange County.

"Very excited to be out here this weekend with the girls, camping and starting their journey on to Eagle," Thomas said.

During the weekend event, dozens of girls will learn how to pitch tents and other fundamental scout skills, like fire and knife safety and camping skills. Boy scouts led the stations and taught the girls. Many said they're happy girls are joining the organization.

"It's definitely new, but I think it's a good way forward," boy scout Cliff Porter said.

Julia Shepherd, 15, was learning first aid skills with her troop. She said this is a great opportunity for girls to enjoy the outdoors, unlike other scouting programs.

"You can have a more full-on camp experience. You can get out here in the wilderness as opposed to doing arts and crafts and stuff," Shepherd said.

The girls can earn the same merit badges and achieve the same ranks as the boys, including the highest rank of Eagle Scout.

Scout Master Autumn Herod said this is a step in the right direction. It is giving boys and girls the chance to learn new skills and grow as leaders.

"The scouting movement is not specific to any gender and it is super exciting for everyone involved," Herod said.

Even though scouting numbers are down across the nation, Central Florida leaders said they already have more than 30 all-girl troops signed up and are hoping even more will join.

"If it is something that you might be scared to try, just go ahead and do it because you never know if you may like it. Some people may be intimidated by the wilderness and not wanting to be outdoors, but it is a great experience and you should at least give it a try," Shepherd said.

This isn't the first time the Boys Scouts have made a change. In 2018, they opened the Cub Scout program to girls ages 5-10.

Since then, more than 70,000 younger girls have signed up across the nation.

If you're interested in registering your child for the Scouts BSA program, visit CFLscouting.org or call 407-889-4403. 

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