When the five girls of troop 987 first met, they each decided that they needed to be the Senior Patrol Leader. (We put that decision off for a bit.) One thing they did agree on was that they all wanted to be the nation’s first female Eagle Scout. I carefully discussed the difficulties with such a task, but they were undaunted. I explained this was something that would require pure dedication and a lot of luck, but our boy troop’s philosophy has always been, “Scout led… no matter what”, so I did what any Scout leader would have done, and turned to the experts.
Five years ago, Jeffrey H., one of our Eagle Scouts, commented that it was impractical to make scouts wait for summer camp to take part in a program that could easily be completed at home. I told him if he saw a problem in the world, he should work to fix it. His answer was to create our New Scout Quest (NSQ) program, which he then led until his election to Senior Patrol Leader. The basis for his program was that if Scouts were busy at meetings and ranked up faster, then they would stay active in the program. He began creating and scheduling lessons based on a belief that if the Scouts knew what was planned, they would be more likely to attend the meetings and continue Scouting. The following year we had a 95% retention rate. He trained the instructors in this method, and when he turned 18 in October, we had a fully functional program for new Scouts.
So when the girls talked about their objectives, three of my Scouts came to mind immediately. We would need Jeffrey, of course, but we would also need the instructors, Alex G. and Bill G. who had spent the last 4 years leading and refining the course. All three were more than excited to help, although one had to join as an adult leader. They began preparations for this new program. The girls this year are an exciting and unique chance to show just how dynamic this program is. Three of the five have older brothers who are Eagle Scouts. One has an older brother who is a 13 year old Life Scout, and one will be the first Eagle Scout in her family! They have been watching their brothers have a great time at scouting and have waited for their chance to shine.
As they joined, they each received a Scout handbook. They worked for a couple of weeks to learn the requirements for Scout, and then met on February 1st to kick off Family Scouting and become the first girls to attend a Scoutmaster conference and receive the Scout rank. They attended their first camp out in February (these girls are tough!) and three of them (Annalise S., Abby E., and Katie H.) attained the rank of Tenderfoot a few days ago. The other two – Victoria S. and Sarah J. – will receive it next week at our next meeting.
As a Scoutmaster I have seen more than a hundred scouts attend our NSQ program. Almost all of them are 11. I have noticed that the girls are less distracted and learn the book skills a great deal faster than the boys. The boys are more adept at the physical skills such as fire building and orienteering. This is an observation that may help your program adapt to the different needs of a girls program. It is amazing to watch history be made with a group of girls who are so driven to be great Scouts.