There’s a new girls’ club forming in Waco. . . and it’s the Boy Scouts?

by Melody Terrell

Growth, change, and choices are on the horizon for the Boy Scouts of America, and for some Waco-area girls and their families. We hear about The BSA in national news sometimes, but the quality and fit of our programs comes down to a more personal level.  Local churches and civic groups, who sponsor the troops, and the men and women who lead them have the most influence over these youth organizations. Scout leaders in Waco choose where they will serve. Families have choices about their time and interests and the youth who join organizations get to choose the right fit for them. Those who join BSA troops will have many choices within the scouting program. I’m excited about the opportunity to serve as one of the adult leaders of Family Scouts BSA Troop 308 for Girls that officially launches in February of 2019.

The best things about Boy Scouts are not going away. The aims and methods remain the same.  The requirements for the prestigious Eagle Scout award remain rigorous, identical for male and female youth. The values, camping, and opportunity for boys-to-be-boys remains. Girls will not be invading guy territory and feminizing it; they will form new all-female groups. The values I love about scouting remain: duty to God and country, outdoor adventure, youth-led with adult support.  I want that for girls too. A safe environment to plan, try, fail, and figure it out is probably the best reason to join a BSA scouting group. Families looking at BSA for their daughters are generally aware of the BSA experiences. Some girls have been participating informally for years.

Local churches and civic groups sponsor all BSA troops, and they select leaders according to their standards and values.  These organizations also decide if they will sponsor a separate troop for girls. Locally, several Boy Scout troops explored the idea.  The First United Methodist Church of Waco decided to take the plunge and sponsor a Scouts BSA girl troop. They already sponsor Boy Scout Troop 308, and Cub Scout Pack 308, which welcomed girls in September of 2018. When a group of parents approached First Methodist, the church leaders asked a few questions, then agreed. Boy Scout Troop 308 is a large troop with consistent leadership and plenty of trained adult support. For family convenience, all groups will meet on Tuesday evenings in different parts of the church. The committee includes families with a history of scouting and a few who are new to BSA scouting.  We have been meeting monthly since August.

Adult volunteers, after appropriate training, get to choose how they will serve.  Every adult must take the BSA Youth Protection training before they may join.  There are extensive trainings provided online and in person to adult leaders serving youth. Every scout deserves a trained leader. Adults who enjoy the outdoors may join as assistant scoutmasters and help with campouts and scouting skills.  Those who yearn for high adventure, may organize a trip for older youth to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Northern Tier Canoe Base at the U.S./Canadian Boundary Waters, or Florida Sea Base.  Others may plan a regional summer camp experience.  They may serve on the troop committee, supporting the unit and its leadership.  Adults who have a special skill may serve as merit badge counselors. All BSA merit badges give youth an opportunity to learn about a career, life skill, or hobby.

Families make choices for their time and values.  There is only so much time in our daily lives. Some families seem to manage youth activities several times a week. It’s tricky when you have both mom and dad sharing this task, but for the single parent or grandparent it can be too much. Having all the children at one place for an hour each week might be helpful.  I’m thinking coffee with adult conversation or a quick Target run. If BSA is not the right fit for your family, there are other organizations. There are groups for learning about agriculture, organizations specifically for empowering girls, sports teams, and church youth groups.  These organizations enable youth to develop their potential for leadership, make friends, and have fun. Adult volunteers are the backbone of community groups. Consider not only enrolling your child, but volunteering. The community of volunteers serving beside you will enrich your life as well your child’s.

Youth have many choices.  Learning to make choices is an important part of growing up. I hope all youth join an organization that appeals to them. BSA scouts meet once or twice per year for long-range planning in this youth-led organization.  An adult committee has to approve or recommend changes to the plan based on safety and other considerations. At weekly meetings the youth make choices about merit badge study and service projects. Before campouts, small patrol groups plan their meals.  One person is chosen as grub-master and must purchase the food, divide the cost, and collect from individuals.  If the meal is not great, there is always peanut butter and jelly, and an opportunity to tweak the recipe and try again the next month. The girls will choose what they want to learn and do. There are currently 135 merit badges.  12 specific badges are required to earn the Eagle Scout rank, but the others are elective.  Within each merit badge, there are additional choices. There are summer camps nearby and far away.  There are gatherings of thousands of scouts or small backpacking trips. There are even opportunities to travel to other countries and meet scouts from all over the world. There is a world of opportunity for adventure.

I am grateful that BSA scouting is still a choice for me. I continued in scouting after my son earned his Eagle rank and started college. Now, I get to work with girls as we form this new group.  Our troop won’t look like the boys’ troops.  It will be a girl troop, for sure.  I can’t wait to see where this adventure will take us. #scoutmein

Scouts BSA Program Information:

Find out more information about the Waco-area Scouts BSA Troop for girls that is forming!

Rally Day for Families and Girls to learn about our troop: 1/22/19
4901 Cobbs Dr. Waco, TX 76710 (First United Methodist Church of Waco)
7:00 PM

Melody Terrell is Licensed Dyslexia Therapist and retired public school teacher. She enjoys outdoor adventures with family and friends.  She volunteered at The Boy Scout National Jamborees in 2013 and 2017 and serves on the Waco-Area BSA District Committee. She will staff the World Jamboree in July of 2019 and will be the scoutmaster for Family Scout Troop 308 for Girls. She was a Girl Scout and a BSA Explorer Scout in her youth, and has been a leader for Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Campfire USA programs.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email [email protected] for more information.


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