Once a week, the Scouts BSA Troop 171 can be found at the First Presbyterian Church Annex in Boulder, wearing their khaki uniforms. Each meeting begins with a member marching down to the stage in front, carrying the American flag, while scouts salute as it passes. Then, in unison, they recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
This year, that group of kids looks different. Standing beside the big group of boys stand young girls. They, too, are dressed in the traditional khaki uniforms. On a recent Monday, the boys and girls all raised three fingers in the air, reciting the Scout Oath and Scout Law. “On my honor …” they begin.
Boulder’s 67-year-old Troop 171 welcomed a girl’s troop as of Feb. 1, along with all the Boy Scouts of America troops around the country. Members are now calling the organization Scouts BSA to include their female members.
Seven girls are members of Troop 171, but more are expected to join in the weeks to come.
“So far, we haven’t found any organization that offers young women what BSA offers, and that’s what we want to do,” said Jeff Bradley, assistant scout leader. “And we’re going to attract people that want to do that.”
The girls Scouts BSA troop is linked with the boys troop, which means they are their own troops, but each troop is welcome to go on the other’s trips.
“I appreciate that the new girl troop can utilize the scaffolding that the boys troop has had, and yet they have the freedom to craft their own experience from that,” said Stasi York, who has a daughter and a son in Scouts BSA.
Some of the female troop members also participate in Girl Scouts. Now that Girl Scouts cookie season has ended, that troop’s meetings are monthly, meaning the girls have more time for Scouts BSA.
“Girl Scouts is really fun and we do all these community events, which are really fun, where in Scouts BSA, we do more trips and outdoors events,” said Maggie York, 12, a member of both Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA.
Both the girl and boy Scouts BSA troops meet weekly. They begin and end their meetings together, but the middle is normally separated, depending on what each group is doing that week.
“My sister is in Girl Scouts and she doesn’t get to go camping at all,” said Scouts BSA member Atharb Jamdagny, 14. “Now these girls get to go camping, fishing, anything they want. I just think it’s really cool that my sister can join now and any other girl can, too.”
BSA stated on its website it became clear to it the program should be available for young women based on feedback from current and prospective Scout families. Now, girls in Scouts BSA can earn all the same merit badges that the boys get, too.
“I’ve always wanted to get my Eagle Scout, which wasn’t an option for me before,” said Scouts BSA member Gabrielle Scott, 11.
The female members of Scouts BSA are still facing some challenges, though.
“I’m wearing a boy’s large shirt, why don’t they have women’s sizes?” asked Yuri Kim, a female scout leader. “And the shirt still says ‘Boy Scouts’ on it.”
Kim also said the girls troop wants to find some individuality, since it is separate from the boys troop. Kim suggested the female scouts could wear a different color neckerchief than boys, or perhaps the female troops of the wider organization could develop their own flag.
When asked about how it was going working so closely with the boys troop, Maggie had one thing to say: “Boys are people, girls are people, and people are people.”
Other Scouts BSA girls troops are forming in the Boulder area. Learn more at beascout.scouting.