Girls can now join an all-female Boy Scout troop in Ashland.
The Boy Scouts of America is rebranding to Scouts BSA and will allow girl troops, composed of sixth- to 12th-graders, starting Feb. 1.
Cub Scouts, which include kindergartners through fifth-graders, started allowing girls into its packs last year, according to Troop Committee Chair Ryan Schnobrich. The dens, or the separate age groups, are separated by gender.
“It’s important to note that the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts are two entirely separate youth organizations,” Schnobrich said.
Fifth-grader Payshens Cichy, female Cub Scout, said she’s excited to join the new Scouts BSA troop because her brothers and sister can now all be Scouts together.
“I’m looking forward to learning about leadership and how Scouts work,” Payshens said. “My older brother, my younger brother and my older sister are going into Scouts, and so am I. I’m super excited because we all get to learn together.”
Schnobrich said he’s a third-generation Eagle Scout. In the Boy Scout world, he’s considered a lifetime scouter.
He said he was ecstatic to learn that his only daughter, Magnolia, could join the Boy Scouts, and he immediately began the process of establishing troop 211, a spinoff from the Ashland all-male Boy Scout Troop 112.
Schnobrich said whole families often come out to Scout activities, but girls have always been excluded from participating.
“Allowing girls to join makes us more of a family pack,” Schnobrich said. “When I would do recruiting in the past, I would go into classrooms and talk about BB guns, archery, Cub Scout camp and I always had to say, “Sorry, girls, this doesn’t include you.” They would always be so devastated, but now that’s changed.”
He said he’s been working with other parents and new Scoutmaster Katelyn Richmond to plan monthly outings such as camping, kayaking, skiing, stand-up paddleboarding, shooting guns, archery, sailing and zip lining.
The Scouts will attend the Pacific Jamboree next summer, a major event in British Columbia every four years for Scouts 15 and older.
“I’m looking forward to going to British Columbia with this troop, because we get to talk to Scouts from across the world, and I think that’s really cool,” said Magnolia, 13.
The Scouts will participate on a “high adventure” trip every year, which could entail traveling to Scouts BSA camps all over the country to participate in outdoor adventures ranging from hiking to sailing around the Bahamas.
Cub Scout dens are categorized by ages with names such as lion dens and tiger dens. Because this will be one of the first all-female troops, the girls came up with their own patrol names. The two Ashland patrols within the troop so far are the “Howlin' Wolves” and the “Sassy Squatches.”
The adults will lead the troop in the beginning, but next summer a group of girls will attend a national leadership camp where they’ll learn how to lead the troop themselves. This leadership influences what kinds of trips the troop takes, how the summer camp is set up and what kinds of projects to undertake.
“Everybody gets an opportunity to show leadership, whatever it might be,” Schnobrich said. “So whether it’s a quartermaster who takes care of the equipment there’s historians who will keep track of the things we do and write about it. We want to have a good social-media presence, so someone will facilitate that with the Scouts.”
Scoutmaster Richmond works with multiple child care programs at the YMCA. She said she’s honored to be one of the first female Scoutmasters.
“It is so incredibly amazing that girls are being let into Boy Scouts,” Richmond said. “It’s really important for me to be inclusive in ways like that. I think it’s important to allow girls access to groups that they feel drawn to regardless of gender or gender identification. To me this is just one step to being more inclusive.”
Magnolia said she’s excited for the equality this change brings.
“I think it’s really cool and that girls should get the same exact opportunities as boys do,” Magnolia said.
Schnobrich said he hopes to replicate the successes of his Boy Scout experiences.
“It’s such a great program. It develops character and leadership, civic engagement, outdoor skills. I’m just thrilled we’re allowing girls into the program,” Schnobrich said. “We live in such a beautiful place. Those trails need to be hiked. Those rivers have to be rafted.”
The Girl Scouts aren’t very happy about this change and in fact sued the Boy Scouts for trademark infringement in November, according to The Associated Press.
Schnobrich said he hopes there’s not competition between the local Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts troops.
“I hope people make the choice that’s right for them, and I hope they look at all the different programs that we have in Ashland,” Schnobrich said. “We have a lot of very successful youth programs here.”
Schnobrich said St. Mary’s School in Medford is also set to establish a female Scouts BSA troop.
There’s an annual membership fee of $45. Occasional outings, rental gear and activities cost extra, such as summer camp, which costs around $350.
The troop is chartered by the Ashland YMCA, so the Scouts will meet there weekly.
For more information about the troop or to join, contact Ryan Schnobrich at email@example.com.
Contact Daily Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.
(Dec. 31: Story updated to change "pack" to "patrol" and Ryan Schnobrich's title.)