SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) - February has brought big changes to the Boy Scouts of America which on February 1st 2019 changed the name of it’s title program to Scouts BSA.
The once male-dominate youth organization is now starting to form all-girl troops, including several right here in the Heartland.
Tuesday night was the first meeting for Troop 4019.
It’s the first all-girl Scouts BSA Troop to be established in Southeast Missouri and other units are in the works across the Heartland.
Right now the troop based in Sikeston, MO has seven girls between the ages of 11 and 17 and they are hoping to recruit more.
New recruit Izzy Collins says she always kept a close on the scouting programs.
“Going to Camp Lewallen or the Boy Scout STEM camps has been something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a little girl,” Izzy Collins said. “Because being exposed to my dad and my brother doing it only was really frustrating."
When Troop 4019 started, Collins jumped at the opportunity and is excited she can attend more camps, earn merit badges and go on high adventure trips with her whole family.
“Girls can finally go into camps and experience things they did not get to experience before," Izzy Collins said. “Like archery, or swimming, or just being able to go in a real tent and surviving and what that feels like.”
Tom Collins has three daughters and one son, and now all four kids are either in Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA. He says he gave positive feedback about the family scouting program during focus groups.
“It’s been useful for us as a family to be able to have the continuity of having several kids involved in the same activity," Tom Collins said. "I’ve been a leader for both Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts. I know the routine and it makes it easier. We are not starting from whole cloth. We’ve done it before, we are just now doing it with our daughters instead of just our sons.”
Another aspect that Tom Collins likes about the structure of the new programs is that Scout Troops and Cub Scout packs are still single-gender groups.
“So all of those aspects of leadership development that we think are best cultivated in a single-gender setting are still preserved,” he said. “Now there are certainly activities where both boys and girls will be present. We had our first Blue and Gold banquet and pinewood derby last year and it went great. I really enjoyed it a lot. As a parent it made me very happy to see the kids there participating together and having a good time.”
Izzy Collins is 17 and will age out of scouts in a few months so she is on a fast track to get her Eagle Scout Rank.
“To say like I did it,” Collins said. “Like I’m one of the girls that finally has the opportunity to show it, display it and put in on college applications and job applications. Just anything that is of importance in the future.”
Scouts BSA says more than 77,000 girls joined the ranks of Cub Scouts in 2018.
Other cities that are forming all-girl Troops in Southeast Missouri include Cape Girardeau, Poplar Bluff, and Fredericktown. Several troops are also forming across the river in Southern Illinois in Carbondale, Christopher, Marion, and Murphysboro.