The Santa Clarita Valley Service Center for the Boy Scouts of America prepared for the rain and welcomed the first female troop under the new Scouts BSA program into the Western Los Angeles County Council on Saturday.
Girls in fifth grade to high school age can now become members of the youth organization and even earn the highest rank of Eagle Scout. Originally a ribbon-cutting ceremony, the new all-female troop, Troop 2019, stayed inside as heavy winds and rain pelted down outside and flooded nearby gutters and sidewalks.
“Having the Boy Scouts of America open up to girls, their amazing program that boys have been able to take advantage of for 100 years, now to be able to have girls take advantage of it is just tremendous,” said Michael Fineberg, scoutmaster of Troop 2019. “I’m excited both for my daughter and for all the other girls in our community that now have this program to take advantage of.”
The new troop consists of eight girls, which will grow with formal recruitment in the time to come. Their first meeting is already planned for Monday.
Troop 2019 shares the same charter with Troop 2222, which Fineberg’s son was a member of. Troops will not consist of male and female youths, though Cub Scouting will incorporate individual groups, called dens, which can alternate between male and female.
“Within your one pack, you can have dens of girls and dens of boys. When you then move into the Boy Scout age, you have Scouts BSA for boys and Scouts BSA for girl,” Fineberg said. “The older (programs), Venturing and Exploring, those programs for 14 and above, those become co-ed again.”
Fineberg hopes other troops are encouraged to start new troops for female scouts, which only require at least five adult leaders and five girls as members. One day in, Troop 2019 has eight members.
Fineberg’s 14-year-old daughter, Anna, is one of those members.
“I’m just really excited to have equal opportunities to earn my Eagle Scout rank,” she said. “Excited at how that can help me in the future, and just to be able to do all the things that boys can do and to be treated the same way.”
Another new scout, 10-year-old Sophia Colon, said she’s gone hiking and camping with her family after her brother joined Boy Scouts.
“I do all the stuff he does, but I wouldn’t earn any badges,” she said. “It feels great to join. Now I can do what my brother does. I’d see pictures of him kayaking, snow-backpacking, but now I can have the experience that he had.”
For more information about Scouts BSA, go to scouting.org/scoutsbsa/