Strong interest from Boy Scouts of America troop leaders in Dunwoody and Brookhaven to start all-girl troops when they become available next year has led state BSA officials to start organizing and preparing for the new wave in scouting.
Jordan Naliwajka is the Hightower Trail district executive of the Atlanta Area Council for BSA and serves cities in north DeKalb, including Dunwoody and Brookhaven. She said she has heard from many troop leaders in the area who are interested in what to do to form an all-girl troop.
“On Feb. 1, the BSA will be chartering all-girl troops … and right now we are in the process of teaching leaders how to make sure they are ready,” Naliwajka said.
“Knowing this date is coming has led many of our volunteers to be very proactive and many are excited and so are their daughters,” she said.
Also on Feb. 1, the name of the youth program will become “Scouts BSA,” while the organization will continue to be known as the Boy Scouts of America.
In October 2017, the board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America approved allowing girls ages 11-17 to join as part of their own troops. Girls already participate in BSA through the inclusive Venturing program, but the new policy gives the opportunity for girls to join the BSA and earn their Eagle Scout badge, for example, the most prestigious honor in BSA.
For some, all-girl troops may seem like a jarring change, Naliwajka said, but they may not be aware of the popular Venturing program that has always included girls.
“Girls being involved in BSA is not new,” she said. “This is just a new program.”
This program will parallel the current Boy Scout program, include the same curriculum and merit badges, and allow girls to earn the Eagle Scout rank, according to Naliwajka.
Rob Maxwell of Dunwoody has two sons, Tyler and Evan, who are members of Troop 477 that is chartered by Kingswood United Methodist Church.
His daughter, Avery, is a member of the local Venturing crew. She plans to join BSA next year in an all-girl troop, and work toward an Eagle Scout badge, just like her brothers, he said.
Naliwajka recently convened a meeting of area troop leaders and others in Brookhaven and Dunwoody interested in chartering an all-girl troop. She said the strong interest shown means putting steps in place now so people can be ready when Feb. 1 rolls around.
The BSA states that since October 2017, more than 3,000 girls in the U.S. have enrolled in the BSA’s Early Adopter Program and are participating in Cub Scouts.
Girls started joining existing Cub Scout troops in August with Cub Scout dens remaining single-gender. Cub Scout Packs have local control to decide to have a Pack with only boy dens, a pack with boy dens and girl dens, or a pack with only girl dens.