Scout them in, ASAP

In the photo, seventh-grader Lena Towne stands next to her Eagle Scout brother, Jack.

She’s smiling and wearing a shirt that says, “Sister of an Eagle Scout.”

Thanks to Scouts BSA, girls like Lena can work toward and earn the Eagle Scout Award beginning next year. When that time comes, Lena likes to joke that she’ll buy a similar shirt for Jack: “Brother of an Eagle Scout.”

As families across the country prepare for the launch of Scouts BSA next year, a group of girls and their parents in Georgia wants to form one of the first all-girl troops in the state.

“My brother and grandfather are Eagles, and I helped my brother with his project,” Lena says. “I want to be part of making history.”

How to Start an All-Girl Troop

Christine Burrell is one of the adults who will help Lena’s dream come true. Right now, she’s an assistant Scoutmaster with Troop 827 of Duluth, Ga. She’s been a Wood Badge staffer and roundtable commissioner, too.

In February, she plans to add another title to her Scouting résumé: co-founder of an all-girl Scouts BSA troop.

“We are all involved in Scouting, so it’s easy to find girls who are adventurous and want to explore the unique experiences the BSA program has to offer,” she says. Burrell sees the path to starting a new troop as a five-step process:

  1. Put together a dream team of dedicated Scout leaders who want their daughters to have the same opportunities their sons have had. Get your district leaders involved to make sure you have their support.
  2. Share this opportunity in your personal networks, and tell the girls about all the fun they will have. “It’s not a hard sell,” Burrell says.
  3. Find a chartered organization to support the troop.
  4. Have the girls think of some fun outings and begin to informally gather and get to know each other.
  5. “Charter in February as soon as they’ll take our forms,” Burrell says.

So Far, So Good

Earlier this year, Kim Towne (Lena and Jack’s mom) and a handful of other BSA leaders held an interest meeting for girls and their parents.

“We had eight to 10 girls ranging from fifth to seventh grade already excited about the program,” Towne says. “It took just a few of us to start a Boy Scout troop from scratch four years ago, and we have a very supportive chartered organization that welcomes the new inclusivity of BSA as a whole.”

Towne says recruiting is all word of mouth for now. Once the troop officially forms next year, she and her fellow leaders will pursue traditional avenues like working with local packs and establishing a presence in the community and schools.

The biggest hurdle, she says, will be educating families about the program. She’ll need to explain the format of Scouts BSA, which will include all-boy troops and all-girl troops but no mixed-gender troops. Beyond that, the girls themselves will be the best recruiters.

Like sixth-grader Katie Brown, who is interested in Scouting’s many high-adventure opportunities.

“I want to challenge myself in the outdoors and grow my self-confidence,” she says. “I’m excited by the number and variety of merit badges offered so I can explore new areas.”


  1. I thought you could have mixed meetings, just not mixed patrols. Yes there is a girls troop and a boys troop but if the same charter organization is offering both troops, then why wouldn’t you have meetings and outings with both genders.
    We will keep YPT rule in force for both genders as trained and run the troops.

  2. I am all for leveraging the resources (leaders, chartered org, assets, location, etc.) of a boy troop to start a girl troop. But I think the end goal should be an autonomous girl troop. It has to have its own SM and youth leaders. The sooner you get autonomous the sooner the girls fully benefit from those leadership responsibilities, charting their own course, learning, growing, failing and recovering, relying on themselves; owning it and making it their own.

  3. There should not be a problem with mixed activities. All of the YPT rules must be observed and enforced, of course. The unit registration must be separated by gender but BOTH troops may share the same unit number if there is but one chartered partner. I would suggest that some games and activities which are physically competitive would not work well; i.e., boys on one side and girls on the other.

  4. Question I have as a MB Counselor is can courses be co-ed? I assume yes, but would I need a female YTP leader there as well?

  5. We are planning on starting a girls unit with a shared committee with the boys unit. The question has come up regarding Troop numbers, the committee wants both units to have the same number. Is that possible?

  6. This article tries to put a happy face on a completely discredited philosophy – Separate but Equal. If units were so easy to start, Scouting would not be in decline. Venturing and NYLT (which have members of an age when hormones are supposedly raging) have had coed units without problems. Why are coed troops forbidden? Having separate units entirely defeats Scouting’s stated objective of making it easy for families to participate in Scouting. This Separate policy’s days are numbered. I just hope we can get there sooner rather than later.

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