By Angelina Hemphill

A girl with long brown hair in a khaki Scouts BSA uniform stands in front of an American flag

My experience in Scouts BSA has been an incredibly irreplaceable opportunity. I began getting involved with the program long before I even realized. As a younger sibling going along on family events and outings, I quickly picked up many skills and got very much involved. Once I heard girls could finally join, I was so excited to finally be able to achieve my goal of reaching the Eagle rank. I always wanted to join Scouting because everything I heard was happening in the program really interested me.

Troop 188 is made up of two separate units of boys and girls that function together for most everything, running the units in parallel. We have separate leadership, troop elections and patrol meetings, but besides that, all activities and most campouts are coed.

Having both genders on campouts may spark up some disagreements, but safety precautions are in place to keep in line with youth protection and separation of sleeping areas. The members of our troop get along very well with each other, and when the other first girls and I joined, the boys were very accepting. Many adult leaders in our troop have noticed that girls joining our program has definitely improved productivity and determination.

In order to start our unit, we had to get a group of at least five girls, and we have grown a lot since then. After February 2018 we had six girls for quite some time, and then slowly but surely we have grown to twice the size since then.

High-adventure trips and summer camp really appealed to me, and once I joined the program, they lived up to everything I could’ve imagined. In 2018 I went on a 50-mile canoe and portage trip in the Boundary Waters with a small group from my unit and it was like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I’ve attended two different summer camps since joining, Mitigwa and H. Roe Bartle Scout Reservations; both taught me a lot about the meaning of Scouting.

Throughout my years I have picked up so many leadership skills and outdoor safety procedures that I use on a daily basis. Achieving the rank of Eagle was definitely not easy, and it took a lot of hard work. Completing each of the ranks leading up to Eagle taught me more and more, and I knew what path I was on from the very beginning.

My project taught me the most about perseverance, hard work and leadership of large groups. In September 2020 I took a group of volunteers from my troop and some of my relatives to Chichaqua Bottoms Greenbelt and cleared a field of invasive species to restore the prairie land.

To me, being one of the first female Eagle scouts in my troop, city, state and country is an incredible honor I will carry through the rest of my life with pride. I feel incredibly blessed to have been able to have the opportunities and experiences I have over the past couple of years.

Categories: Guest Opinion