HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America organization only had one qualification to join the Boy Scouts program. You had to be a boy.
In 2017, the organization announced major changes to two of its iconic programs. In June of 2018, girls were allowed to join the Cub Scouts.
Then, February of 2019 introduced the renaming of the Boy Scouts program to Scouts BSA. Under this new program, girls are now allowed to join the scouts ranks under the Boy Scouts of America umbrella.
Feb. 5, 2019 will be a day Michelle Colson and Shirley Zange will not forget. It’s the day Scouts BSA Troop 7071 officially formed in Huntsville.
“They are loving it, they are excited beyond belief,” said Michelle Colson, assistant scoutmaster for the troop.
The troop went to a camporee back in April that included all of the district troops from Huntsville to Birmingham. Colson says the troop won one of the three ribbons, even beating out some of the boy troops.
“We were pretty darn excited about that. We gained a great deal of respect from the boy troops,” said Colson.
The troop will participate in the same activities as the Boy Scout troops, going camping, learning leadership skills, and also have the opportunity to reach the Eagle rank, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
“Eagle puts you top of the list for any job, any college scholarship,” said Shirley Zange, scoutmaster for troop 7071.
Zange’s daughter is apart of troop 7071. She was thrilled when she learned of the changes, stating how her daughter had followed her brother when he was in Boy Scouts.
“Now, she’s being afforded the same opportunities that her brother was able to receive,” said Zange.
In all, 17,920 girls have signed up to join more than 2,000 Scouts BSA troops nationwide. In North Alabama, there are three all-girl Scouts BSA troops. One in Decatur, one in Huntsville, and one in Toney.
Madeline Edwards is a member of troop 7071. She often attended Boy Scouts meeting with her brother. “It made me really happy because I always wanted to be a Boy Scout. It was just so fun. I love being apart of something that’s new, it’s like a new family,” said Edwards.
Edwards says she’s been able to get at least three more people to join the troop. For anyone else considering joining, she has some simple advice.
“Don’t be scared. Yeah, there are boys that do it but, it’s just fun,” said Edwards.
Edwards also hopes this organization can help her, “be a better citizen. To contribute to America, and to be the best that I can be later in life.”
If you want to be apart of Scout BSA Troop 7071, they will be holding recruiting drives soon. The group is also gearing up for its first camping trip as a troop.
To join a Scouts BSA troop or to find one near you, go to BeAScout.org and you can find a troop near you and even apply online.