Last month, nearly 1,000 young women soared into history as the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts earning the Boy Scouts of America’s highest rank. The milestone marks the continuation of a new way forward for an organisation which expanded its programmes to girls and young women in 2018.
The Eagle Scout honour recognises the service, leadership and groundbreaking accomplishments of these young women who collectively earned more than 30,000 merit badges and provided an estimated 130,000 hours of community service amidst a global pandemic.
To become an Eagle Scout, young people must earn a minimum of 21 merit badges, complete a large community service project, and take on leadership roles in their troop or community. The prestigious rank has been attained previously by astronauts, athletes, politicians, artists, scientists, celebrities and business leaders.
For more than a century, Eagle Scouts have been leading positive change in their communities across the United States, and this tradition continues with the first class of female Eagle Scouts.
Being an “Eagle Scout is so much more than a medal or an award. It's an expectation and a lifestyle. It means that you're a role model to your community every day of your life. Once an Eagle, always an Eagle," said Lyndsey, one of the first women to call herself an Eagle Scout, in an interview with CBS News.
The impactful service projects led by the young women came at a critical time when their communities needed it the most, and ranged from working with doctors to raise awareness of rare diseases, to sewing face masks, to introducing gardening to local schools as a means to improve the mental health of students.
“This is a powerful moment for these young women, for all Eagle Scouts, and for our nation,” said Jenn Hancock, national chair for programs at the Boy Scouts of America. “People recognise Eagle Scouts as individuals of the highest caliber, and for the first time, that title isn’t limited by gender.”
The involvement of more girls and women in Scouting, for nearly half a century, is part of the Movement’s commitment of being ‘open to all’ and our continuous strengthening of diversity and inclusion across the Scout Movement. There are currently more than 14 million girls and women active in Scouting worldwide, and 95% of the 171 National Scout Organizations around the world offer programmes that are open to both boys and girls.