By Nichole Meloche
“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts across America have memorized that oath for more than 100 years, recite before each weekly meeting and scouting event and are taught to live by in their daily lives.
Since 1908 the ultimate goal is to reach the rank of Eagle Scout, and on Feb. 1, 2019, the Boy Scouts of America changed their rules to allow girls ages 11-17 to join and changed their name to Scouts BSA.
A few months later Tri-West freshman Tori Yoder joined Brownsburg’s Troop 331 in April 2019.
“My favorite part of scouting is meeting new people who also love adventure and spending time outside,” said Yoder, 14. “I also love that scouting has helped me be involved in community service from volunteering at food banks to cleaning up local parks and camps and many other service opportunities. My favorite merit badge I’ve earned so far is the aviation merit badge. I actually got to fly a plane and that helped confirm my dream of becoming a pilot.”
Yoder attends at least one camping event a month, even in the winter. During the camps, Yoder and her troop learn rock climbing, bicycling, kayaking, hiking, archery, skiing and more. Her goal is to become an Eagle Scout.
When Yoder signed up for scouting, her mother Christy Yoder became a troop leader.
“One of my favorite parts of being a Scout leader is having a hand in implementing BSA’s well-set-up program for our youth that helps them grow as a person,” said Christy Yoder. “I love having a part in a youth program that is structured so well to help you learn to be better leaders, work as a team, value serving others and explore their interests for careers and lifelong hobbies. All while teaching responsibility, self-discipline, goal setting, self-reliance and life skills.”
The change to allow girls in scouting came with controversy. The new rules allowed young girls to learn the same skills that the boys learn.
The Boy Scouts originated in Britain in 1908. Two years later, the movement reached America when publisher William Boyce founded the Boy Scouts of America. In 1912 Juliette Gordon Law founded the Girl Scouts, and Cub Scouts for ages 5-10 followed in 1916.
“Girls in scouting is a huge step forward I believe,” said Katie Leitze, leader of Avon Troop 300. “I was always the little sister who had to tag along with my dad and brother. I always wanted to do everything he was doing, but I was never officially allowed. I have great memories of my brother’s scouting experience. But now girls starting in kindergarten can gain the same knowledge and awards that my brother did. Girls are now given the same opportunities the boys have.”
Kids can join local troops that meet weekly.
“I initially put my son in Scouts because he loves being outside and exploring nature,” said Michelle Burnett, parent from Avon Troop 300. “I’ve kept him in Scouts because of the friendships he has made and for all of the skills he is learning that will serve him well throughout life.”
Through camps and meetings, the Scouts earn merit badges for skills in areas such as swimming, sports, cooking, emergency preparedness, nature, environmental science and more.
“I love that they get to see great role models in action,” said Miranda Adams, mother of two boys in Avon Troop 300. “I love that Cub Scouts is a family activity and that eventually it will be a place for them to independently learn confidence, leadership and life skills that they will carry throughout their lives.”
To explore local Scout troops, visit beascout.scouting.org.