With the news that girls will soon be able to join the Boy Scouts, gaining access to the coveted Eagle Scout award, members of a local Girl Scout troop are coming to terms with why this news is being met with frustration.
“I think the Gold Award for Girl Scouts it not looked as an equal to the Eagle Award because of publicity. It is talked about more on the news and some people don’t even know that the Gold Award is the equivalent to the Eagle Award,” freshman of Troop 548, Megan Fitton said.
Even those Boy Scouts who have earned Eagle Scout recognition can understand Fitton’s point of view.
“I understand why there are some girls that want to be in Boy Scouts because of attaining an Eagle Award because Girl Scouts don’t really get a lot of recognition. I believe the Gold Star[Gold Award] that is equivalent to the Eagle Award [doesn’t] really get as much recognition on resumes and college applications as the Eagle Scout Award. I mean they do as much work as we do, I just don’t think it’s recognized as much,” Eagle Scout Zachary Landry said. “I mean Boy Scouts is also a more widely known organization. It’s been around longer. Everyone knows that Boy Scouts sells their popcorn and Girl Scouts sell their cookies but not everyone knows what goes into that, like all the paperwork behind what they see. The Girl Scouts don’t get a lot of recognition for that, and it kind of sucks. The Gold Award and Eagle Award are the same value, but the Girl Scouts version isn’t as appreciated on how they earned it and what work they put into it. It’s probably the publicity. It may not help as much, but a lot of the presidents and high council people are either in Boy Scouts, have attained their Eagle Scout Award or visit and support it.”
Helen Montoya Henrichs is the marketing director of the Girl Scouts program.
“One of the reasons the Gold Award is not seen as an equal to the Eagle Award is because not everyone knows what it is. The name has been changed multiple times over the years. It was once called the Golden Eaglet, but we are keeping the name where it is now,” Henrichs said.
The argument to allow members of the opposite sex to join is nothing new to either group.
“I don’t have any beliefs that Girls Scouts should be exclusively to girls even though it was made for girls to do things. I think there would be some controversy because it was originally made for girls, but anyone should be able to join. If boys want to join Girl Scouts, why shouldn’t they be able to?” Fitton said.
Of course, there are strong opinions on both sides of this debate.
“I can understand why girls would want to get that award, but the name is Boy Scouts and the name is Girl Scouts and that’s the way I think it should be,” Landry said.
“We have never allowed boys to join the program. I cannot speak for the girls who want to be a part of Boy Scouts to get the Eagle Award. Maybe they don’t understand that the Gold Award is equal or the value of the program,” Henrichs said.
Boy Scouts have been around longer than Girl Scouts, since at the time, the group didn’t believe that girls could accomplish the same things boys could. Of course the women’s rights movement changed some of that thinking and Girl Scouts was created.
“Boy Scouts has been known for its ruggedness and outdoorsy activities. They have also been known to be a little more exclusive to minorities. And some boys aren’t really like that. I mean some boys want to learn about management or do more arts and crafts and things. I mean, I’m not saying that Girl Scouts don’t do outdoorsy things, but some troops don’t really do that. This is also very vague. They are two different types of communities and it is whatever the person is comfortable with,” Fitton said.
There are over 100 merit badges offered to Boy Scouts in subject areas including sports, crafts, science, trades, business and future careers. In order to earn a badge, a scout must pick the badge they’re interested in, meet with a merit badge counselor, complete the task, and then present their finished product or knowledge of the subject of the badge/task to the merit badge counselor.
“There was a lot of merit badges you could earn too. As of now, I cannot earn anymore badges because I’m eighteen, I’m aged out. I was lucky I became an Eagle Scout before I aged out. I can’t get anymore badges at this point. I became an Eagle Scout, I believe twenty days before my eighteenth birthday. The paperwork took about six months. The big key seller for becoming an Eagle Scout is the Eagle Scout Project. The process consisted on what you want to do, but together a booklet and then take it to your troop and once they approve it, then you go to the council, which the council does everything in Bexar County. They judge about three to four thousand kids. Once they approve it, you do your project and ask people from your troop to help out. Then you have to do a write up, which about five to six hundred pages, depending on how you do it. Then you take it to the council again and they review everything you’ve done and make sure you did it. Then they interview you on who you are and what you want to do and how you’re glowing to accomplish it. If you criteria that they’re looking for then they can approve you to become an Eagle Scout. It took me, I started the Eagle Scout process last year in September, so it took be about a year and a month to finish it off,” Landry said.
The Girl Scouts offer a range of badges as well, in areas such as medical advancements, art and life skills. The scouts must prove themselves efficient in an area before receiving a badge. These badges, just like the Boy Scouts, have activities and goals that need to be complete before the badge is earned. Some subjects have progression badges, where scouts earn a higher level in the same subject area as they grow. They also offer the Make Your Own Badge option for those scouts whose interests lie outside of the offerings.
One of the subject awards that have different levels for Girl Scouts are the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
“I did do my silver project. I set up an educational living history event at Tejeda’s history hill and history faire. It was about life in the eighteen hundreds and it was fun to do. I will be there next year and the next year and the next year after that,” Wright said.
The three awards are earned during different levels of Girl Scouts, preparing them for their Gold Award.
“For our Bronze Award, we worked as volunteers. We collected donations from our neighbors and the community and random people. We collected from family and neighbors for San Antonio Pets Alive and we also volunteered at the shelters to take care of the animals until they had a forever home,” Girl Scout Madeline McKinney of Troop 3128 said.
Millions of boys and girls nationwide participate in each program – but to date, the Girl Scouts have more members because of the exclusivity of the Boy Scouts.
“It’s a group of girls to make friends, like I said, and to hang out with. It does look good on applications. I would warn people that when you find a troop and just jumping into it because not all troop do the same thing. Different troops do different things on a regular basis. If you are the person that wants to learn how to camp, then make sure not to join a troop that never goes camping. You will be disappointed, but if you do find a troop that does what you want to do, then I definitely recommend joining it,” Wright said.
“It’s nice to see other people outside of school and get to do things you wouldn’t normally be able to do. Like if you weren’t in Girl Scouts then we wouldn’t be able to go fishing like we did last week or do activities that will benefit people later in the future. It also benefits the community,” Fitton said.
The Gold and Eagle Award will continue to cause the programs to change and improve the world.
“The Gold Award and Eagle Award make the world a better place. It improves our community and helps better the world around us. Girls and boys are changing the world, making forever changes that make the Earth better. The projects range from cleaning a hiking trail, debating, and even improving other continents,” Henrichs said. “I hope that in the future, the Gold Award will be seen as an equal, for both programs work equally as hard and both make the world a better place.”