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It's official: Tennessee welcomes all-girl Boy Scouts of America troop

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/4/2019 Nancy De Gennaro
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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Members in a new scout troop made history last week when they took an oath to become the first all-girl Scouts BSA unit in two Tennessee counties.

Troop 2019 joined thousands across the country Friday celebrating with ceremonies to mark the Boy Scouts of America's inclusion of girls in the Boy Scouts program.

“We’re changing the name of the Boy Scout program to Scouts BSA," said Larry Brown, chief scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council of Boy Scouts of America, the parent organization of the local Scouts BSA.

Scouts BSA will be for girls and boys ages 11 to 17, but troops will not be co-ed, said Brown, who spoke at the ceremony Friday.

Each of the 16 girls of Troop 2019 signed a charter document that listed them as founding members of the troop. After signing the charter document, each girl was presented with a neckerchief by their parents and a copy of the new Scouts BSA Handbook by Scoutmaster Kevin Phillips.

a couple of people that are standing in a room: Retired Army Lt. Gen. and Eagle Scout Keith Huber, MTSU’s senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, spoke to scouts in Troop 2019 about the significance of the ceremony, saying the girls, as founding members of Troop 2019, were making history with their commitment to be among the first girls to join Scouts BSA. © Eric Sutton, Middle Tennessee State University Retired Army Lt. Gen. and Eagle Scout Keith Huber, MTSU’s senior advisor for veterans and leadership initiatives, spoke to scouts in Troop 2019 about the significance of the ceremony, saying the girls, as founding members of Troop 2019, were making history with their commitment to be among the first girls to join Scouts BSA.

Middle Tennessee State University signed a partnership agreement with the council in March that allows the university to be a greater resource for scouting programs, particularly in science and technology. As such, three Eagle Scouts with ties to the university participated in the inaugural ceremony.

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Although the university will provide program support to the troop through its partnership with the council, the men’s ministry of Trinity United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro is the unit’s chartering organization and will provide meeting space and oversight for the unit.

Programs offer choices

While ceremonies like the one in Murfreesboro were held nationwide Friday, the launch has been building over the past year, with leaders putting together families interested in the new venture, Brown said.

Previously, girls could join male counterparts in four of the Boy Scouts of America programs: Cub Scouting, Venturing, Sea Scouting and Exploring.

"The programs are all different," Brown said. "They have different methods. But the goal is the same: Teach character, citizenship, mental and physical fitness."

Exploring focuses on career interest and development. Sea Scouting teaches aquatic skills. Venturing takes scouting to the edge with high adventure. Cub Scouting has served the younger girls and boys with leadership and outdoor programs. 

Scouts BSA offers a blend of survival education, outdoor adventures and leadership skills.

“The Boy Scout program is built on troops working together ... to learn leadership skills through camping and working on different rank advancement and merit badges,” Brown said.

With the new Scouts BSA rebrand, girls will have the opportunity to earn Eagle Scout rank, too.

Brown said BSA doesn’t see the membership change as a competition between organizations.

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“A lot of families have wanted their daughters to have the same experience in the same programs that the Boy Scouts have," Brown said. "We see it as a program that gives families a choice."

'I'm proud to be a part of it'

Morgan Phillips and Lindsay Parker, both leaders and charter members of Scouts BSA Troop 2019, have been involved in scouting long before Friday. 

Before they joined Scouts BSA, Parker and Phillips participated in the Venturing scout program, which took them on rock climbs, scuba dives and numerous camping excursions over the years.

a close up of a sign: Scouts BSA Troop 2019 became the first all-girl Boy Scouts troop to form. © Kevin Phillips Scouts BSA Troop 2019 became the first all-girl Boy Scouts troop to form.

Knowing they could achieve the same goals as their brothers drew Parker and Phillips to join the Scouts BSA program.

“We have brothers who are Eagle Scouts," Parker said. "We know what Boy Scouts is and we’ve seen how it’s helped them leadership wise. ... When we found out we could, I was really excited for everything we’d get to do."

“Now I can wear the uniform and I’m proud to be a part of it,” Phillips said.

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David Parker, Troop 2019 committee chairman, said now his daughter will be "able to be recognized for doing the same work the boys are doing."

Each Boy Scouts of America program offers different rewards, from rank advancements to level awards and badges.

"But they all use the core principles of the scout oath and scout law and outdoor codes. I think those are the components of the building blocks of the scout program," said Kevin Phillips, scoutmaster for Troop 2019.

Follow Nancy DeGennaro on Twitter: @NanDeGennaro.

This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: It's official: Tennessee welcomes all-girl Boy Scouts of America troop

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