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Girls can now join Scouts BSA, once known as Boy Scouts

Girls can now officially join the Boy Scouts of America

A group of girls in Guam made history today as one of the first official all-girl troops to join Scouts BSA, the program formerly known as Boy Scouts. Starting February 1, all girls in the U.S. can officially join the Scouts.

In May 2018, the national scouting organization announced it was changing the program's name and would welcome girls as well as boys ages 11-17 starting this year. Its Cub Scouts program, for kids ages 7-10, went co-ed last year.

"We wanted to land on something that evokes the past but also conveys the inclusive nature of the program going forward," Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh said of the new name. "We're trying to find the right way to say we're here for both young men and young women."

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Girls who join Scouts BSA will "learn from the same program, earn the same merit badges and achieve the same advancements that boys have earned for nearly 109 years in the Boy Scout program," according to the BSA website. Perhaps most importantly, girls will now be eligible to achieve the Scouts' highest honor — becoming an Eagle Scout.

Eleven-year-old Madison Bruce and 10-year-old Sophie Harlan are two of the five girls in Troop 1 in Guam. Madison spent the last year as a Cub Scout, and hopes to work her way up to Eagle Scout. "I'm really looking forward to being a part of boys scouts and achieving the highest goal," she told KUAM's Carmen Victiria Terlaje. "I look at all the people back in history and I'm like, 'Wow I can't believe I'm a part of their group now.'"

Sophie said it's her love of sports that brought her to the program. "I just want to become stronger because that can help me in other sports that I wanted to do, like I'm doing surf right now," she said. 

Sophie's mom, Megan Harlan, is the Scout Leader for Troop 1. Committee chair Shelby Goetzman said, "We're really trying to focus on the family and having families come together and doing this as one, instead of having separate organizations."

The parent organization of Scouts BSA will remain known as the Boy Scouts of America. 

But while some girls are excited to join the boys, the change complicates the already-strained relationship between the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts of America. "Girl Scouts is the premier leadership development organization for girls," said Sylvia Acevedo, the Girl Scouts' CEO. "We are, and will remain, the first choice for girls and parents who want to provide their girls opportunities to build new skills ... and grow into happy, successful, civically engaged adults."