MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Boy Scouts of America will welcome girls next month in to their signature Scouts BSA program for children ages 11 to 17 for the first time.
Skyler Bass, 19, has made some of her best memories as part of the Boy Scouts but she wishes these opportunities had been open to her.
“We’re just offering the same opportunity the boys had for last 100 years to the girls," said Ronda Standridge, scout master of the new Troop 8 for girls.
Starting next month, girls ages 11 to 17 will be able to join and even reach the venerated level of Eagle Scout.
Standridge will lead the first girls troop in Memphis with the help of her 20-year-old daughter.
“It wasn’t something I got the chance to do, so I wanted to provide that to younger girls," Margaret Standridge said. "Eagle is a very recognized award—recognized by military, colleges, entities that give scholarships. So these opportunities will now be open to female scouts.”
Scoutmaster Brian Look knows firsthand the value of that opportunity after seeing his own son get it.
“Turned to my son hugged him, said ‘I’m proud of you,’" he said. "Then I turned to my 11-year-old-daughter, ‘You can’t have this.'"
Look will lead the new Troop 1 for girls in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
Despite all the modifications, the organization will still be defined by just one gender.
“We are chartered through Congress as the Boys of America, so that name is not changing," Look said.
They hope that’s enough to satisfy parents of all children.
There will be two information sessions Monday for girls' families: one in Memphis at Buntyn Presbyterian Church at 561 Prescott Street from 6:30 to 8 p.m. and the other in Olive Branch at 56 Vaughn Lange from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
A Girl Scouts representative said they are committed to serving girls through their girl-led and girl-driven organization. They also have a Join-A-Thon program Jan. 22 at their office on White Station.