APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - After more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America have opened up their program to girls ages 11 to 17. The program, called "Scouts BSA," officially accepted girl troops this month, and it's already gained traction in this area.
Girls of Scouts BSA Troop 177- Greenville
"I really wanted to be a part of something organized and life-changing for so many people," said 16-year-old Jennette Fredrickson, who is now a part of Scouts BSA Troop 177 in Greenville.
Officials from the Boy Scouts of America say the Scouts BSA program would use the same model as the Boy Scouts program, but boys and girls will stay separated.
"In the program they're working on outdoor skills, they're working on leadership skills and character development," said Josh Anderson, a district director with the Boy Scouts of America- Bay Lakes Council.
The organization says they introduced girls because they want to have the program open to everyone in scouting families.
"We wanted to include the whole family,” said Anderson. “We wanted to give families the opportunity to participate together, whether they had boys, boys and girls, or girls only."
"I'm really looking forward to meeting new people and reaching the highest scout rank, which is Eagle,” said Fredrickson. “That has been something that my brothers always looked forward to, and when I found out they were considering girls that's something that I'm like, I really want to do this."
Greenville’s Troop 177 scout master, Leah Schwarz, says she's excited to be a part of the Scouts BSA program. Her daughter, who has been an active Girl Scouts of America member for years, is now also a part of the Boy Scouts of America Scouts BSA program.
“There's a rank advancement element to Scouts BSA, which really allows girls and boys to know where they stand, what they've learned, and that they're learning things to reach a goal. Neither organization is better than the other, they’re just both very different," said Schwarz.
Officials say the Boy Scouts of America Bay Lakes Council covers 22 counties across eastern Wisconsin and all of the counties in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan.
So far they've received 10 girl troop applications and expect to at least triple that number by the end of this year.
"This will only help launch the girls just as much as it helps launched the boys into those leadership and career explorations and opportunities that will take them through their life," Shwarz adds.