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Girls take on the duties of Boy Scouts, and love them –

    Editor’s Note: This is the first of a six-month series of articles celebrating the Year of the Woman in Maryland.


by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

Angela Delaney, 13, of Burtonsville has been a Girl Scout for eight years.

While she enjoys Girl Scouting, she wanted to participate in other activities that her older brother, Sean, was enjoying as a member of Boy Scout Troop 264.

Fortunately for Angela and girls like her, on Feb. 1, 2019, Boy Scouts of America, now called Scouts BSA, began allowing girls ages 11 to 17 to join.

Cub Scouts, for 5- to 10-year-olds, began welcoming girls in 2017.

The move was big for Boy Scouts, which was founded in 1910 and is deeply rooted in tradition, organizers say.

Those involved say the transition has been smooth. By welcoming girls into its iconic programs, Scouts BSA is responding to the requests of families who, for years, have sought the same opportunities for all members of their family.

One year later, trailblazers like Angela are immersed in learning outdoor skills, camping, earning merit badges and working towards the distinguished rank of Eagle Scout.

The girls’ troops are separate, gender-specific troops, but often run alongside an established “brother” troop.

“It has been a very positive change and I am very proud of our council,” said Aaron Chusid, chief communications officer for the National Capital Area Council Boy Scouts of America, which includes Washington, D.C., and 17 surrounding counties. “There really haven’t been any problems. There was a short acclimation period, but now there is a new normal, and programs are running as usual.”

He said that one of the most interesting outcomes is that Scouts BSA expected to see a lot of girls join to follow their brothers, but officials have seen lots of brothers joining that are now following their sisters.

Chusid said that at the end of February 2019, the first month of welcoming girls, the National Capital Area Council led the nation in the number of girl troops. The council finished the year with 80 girl troops and 900 female Scouts BSA members.

Currently, there are 17 Scouts BSA troops for girls in Montgomery County and another one in the works.


‘The boys have welcomed us’


Angela is grateful to be able to experience the fun things she has watched Sean enjoy through Scouting, such as going to Sea Base in the Bahamas, sailing, snorkeling and going to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

“I still really enjoy my Girl Scout troop, but I love that the Boy Scouts can offer me so many options,” she said.

In her first year as a Scouts BSA member, Angela has earned about nine merit badges and gone to summer camp at the Goshen Scout Reserve, where she learned to shoot a rifle, catch a fish, clean it and cook it.

“I have learned how to use a knife, start a fire, tie many knots, first aid skills and use a compass,” she said. “I feel like I have been taught some real life skills.”

Doriane Mir, a ninth-grader, is a member of Troop 7592, which runs alongside Troop 759 at Ashton United Methodist Church.

She, too, has learned new skills and gained new experience.

“Throughout the past year, I’ve been a part of the leadership group within the troop that plans the meetings and trips,” she said. “The things I’ve enjoyed the most about this experience is the amount of time we spend in nature and learning new skills. I believe Scouts BSA has helped me gain responsibility and leadership skills that I didn’t have before. I’ve also had many volunteer opportunities around the community.”

Doriane said she is looking forward to being one of the first generation of female Eagle Scouts.

Angela began last year as a founding member of Troop 1444G at Transfiguration Parish in Cloverly and says it was a great experience.

“I made lots of new friends and did lots of camping, and had so much fun,” she said.

But she has tremendous ties to Troop 264 in Olney-Brookeville. Angela’s father, John Delaney, and uncle, Bill Delaney, both earned Eagle Scout rank with Troop 264. Sean is expected to soon reach the rank of Eagle, as well.

So Angela said she “thought it would be really cool” if the troop started a girls troop, too, so she asked her father and Dennis Bogan, the scoutmaster, “and they made it happen.”

Angela is now one of the eight founding members of Troop 264G, which began just last month. Her dad is the scoutmaster.

“That makes me extra proud,” she said. “The boys have welcomed us and we are learning all sorts of new skills each week at our meetings.”

Sean Delaney, 17,  said that when he heard the Boy Scouts where going to start letting girls join, he knew it was only a matter of time before his two sisters wanted to sign up.

“Everyone keeps asking me if it bothers me that my sister is a member of my troop,” he said. “No. I think that she should be able to do anything that I can do. In fact, we just got back from a great scout trip to the USS New Jersey. There were 16 Scouts on that trip. Angela was one of us, and we had an opportunity to complete the Radio Merit badge, camp out in the Battleship and learn tons of great history. If she wasn’t a registered Boy Scout, she would have missed out on this great experience.”

Sean thinks that having the girls’ troop with the boys’ troop will help them all to become well-rounded leaders.

“Scouts has made me the person that I am today and by letting girls in it will make me a better leader in the future,” he said.

Daniel Geller 16, the senior patrol leader in Troop 264, agrees.

“I think having girls allowed into Boy Scouts was a great idea and about time,” he said. “For any girl that wants to hike, climb mountains, fish, canoe, whittle and make large bonfires at dusk, then Scouts BSA is for them.”

He also called it “a great learning experience for both genders” to interact outside of school in fun scouting activities.

Geller admitted that some of the boys are awkward and still at an age “where the deadly cooties are a thing.”

But he sees it having a positive outcome.

“If we continue this for a long time I can almost guarantee that sexism will only be a thing of the past,” he said.


A welcome addition


The adult leaders of the local troops also agree that the girls have been a welcome addition.

Helen Justis is the committee chair of Troop 264G. The girls’ troops are required to operate separately from the boys’ troop, and to have their own leadership.

Justis said that at the troop’s weekly meetings, held at St. John’s Episcopal Church, both the boys and girls gather together and sit with their patrols for the opening flag ceremony and announcements, and then the girls leave to go into another room for their own meeting. They return for the closing ceremony.

“The boys are so established and have a full calendar,” she said. “They will include the girls for some activities and some they don’t. We’ll be the same way about including the boys.”

Laura Mir, a former Girl Scout leader, is the Scoutmaster for Troop 7592. The troop started with two girls last year and now have six members. They are expecting some rising sixth-graders to join this spring

“It’s going great,” she said. “The girls are very driven, and very excited about advancement opportunities that Scouts BSA offers.”

All six of the girls in Troop 7592 made it through to the First Class rank in their first year.

“That is a big achievement in the boys troops, as well,” Joanne Mir said. “It goes to show their passion and desire for the program.”

Over the past year, girls in Troop 7592 have gone beach camping at Assateague Island, hiked a portion of the Appalachian Trail, and participated in other outdoor events where they worked on scouting skills.

“It has only been a year, but we haven’t had any issues,” she said. “Things are going really well. Our brother troop has been active for 60 years, so they are very well established. Their leadership and the church leadership is very well defined. It’s a strong model, so we’ve been able to surpass any issues with a brand new troop.”

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