The Boy Scouts aren’t just for boys anymore. In fact, if one local father has his way, there may soon be an all-girls troop in southern Grayson County.
Jeffrey Hanning’s son has been active in the Boy Scouts, now known officially as Scouts BSA. The experience has been positive for the entire family. That includes his 11-year old daughter. Last year, she was involved with the Cub Scouts. Now she wants to participate in some of the activities that that are exclusive to Scouts BSA.
“It offers a more outdoor-oriented program with camping and archery and things like that,” Hanning said. “My daughter is in Girl Scouts too, and she wants to do both of them.”
In Feb. 2019, Scouts BSA leaders voted to allow girls to form their own troops for the first time. However, girls have actually been part of the organization for more than 50 years.
In 1969, young women age 14 to 20 were allowed to join certain special-interest Explorer programs. Two years later, they were granted full admission into Exploring, and the upper age limit was raised to 21.
What females couldn’t do until last year was form actual troops like the boys. Now they can, though BSA bylaws still don’t allow for co-ed troops.
Across the country, approximately 8,000 girls have joined Scouts USA. There are currently girl troops in Denison and Whitewright. Hanning hopes there will soon be a third local troop made up of girls from Van Alstyne, Howe, Gunter and other nearby cities.
In order for that to become a reality, at least five five girls between the ages of 11-17 would need to join along with two adult leaders, one of which must be female. If that happens, Hanning says they can look forward to participating in lots of outdoor activities as they work to earn some of the more than 135 Scout merit badges.
That may include overnight camps at places like Camp James Ray in Pottsboro and the Ouachita Mountains in Oklahoma. There are also numerous hiking spots across Texoma and surrounding area.
If things get going, they may even be able to participate in a week-long summer camp.
For Hanning, Scouts has become something his entire family enjoys. He wants his daughter to have the full experience and hopes other families will join him.
The character and leadership skills offered by Scouts are invaluable, Hanning said.
“Every Scout will have a leadership opportunity. They will also have the chance to earn their Eagle Scout,” he said. “The character development and leadership skills they learn are things that will help them as they go on in life.”