SALEM, Va. – Two years ago, the Boy Scouts of America program, known as the Boy Scouts, became Scouts BSA and opened their more than century-old program to girls. Now, there are 11 girl troops across Southwest Virginia. The same girls who made history then are working to do it again.
“It’s really fun to kind of almost surprise people and say ‘yeah, I really got to do this first,’” said 17-year-old Soren French, Order of the Arrow of Troop 51G.
French and 18-year-old Shannon Filer are two of the six inaugural members of Troop 51G in the Salem area. The all-girl troop now has 11 members.
Filer, the troop’s senior patrol leader said, “Honestly when doing scouting and you’re camping with your friends and you’re having a good time and you’re singing around a campfire you don’t feel like you’re making history, just in some of those little moments you kind of take a step back and think, ‘this never would have happened two years ago.’”
Filer’s part in history earned her a full-ride scholarship to Virginia Tech.
Now, French, Filer and other young women who joined two years ago are working hard to make their mark again, this time as female Eagle Scouts.
It requires a minimum of 21 merit badges and a final project. Tasks five members of Troop 51G were able to finish in two years when typically it takes about 7 years.
The girls were on the fast-track to the accomplishment because of their age when they joined Scouts BSA. The troop’s scoutmaster Steven Davis said even though there was a lot to complete in a short amount of time, they didn’t cut corners and gave their all to their community work.
Davis said Eagle Scout is the pinnacle of achievement in terms of your accomplishment of being a service leader in the program and is very proud.
For French, becoming a member and being an equal to her brother who had been a scout for years was a big moment and becoming an Eagle Scout will be no different.
“It’s really exciting. My brother actually just got his Eagle so it’s really exciting to kind of be right at the same point he is,” French said.
Filer admits with all the more than 100 years of tradition her, along with other girls, experienced slight resistance. She knows it wasn’t in vain.
“It’s less of us being first but it’s more of us being first to help us behind us in order to help any other girl that wants to join,” said Filer.
Filer, French, Danielle Davis, Ashley Patterson and Sophia Bone of Troop 51G are all on track to be the first female Eagle Scouts in the Roanoke Valley. There are several girls across the region and country who will also become Eagle Scouts.
If you have a daughter interested in joining Troop51G email email@example.com and if you’re interested in learning more about the program and a troop near you click here.
There are 40 opportunities for elementary-age girls to join Cub Scouts in Southwest Virginia.