First all-female Scouts BSA troop forming in Washington

Published 7:19 pm Thursday, August 22, 2019

A new Boy Scouts of America troop is forming in Washington, but there will be no boys allowed. Spearheaded by Beaufort County Early College sophomore Ashleigh Cash, the new troop will fall under the Scouts BSA program, which began allowing for the formation of all-female troops in February.

For the past six years, Cash has been involved with scouting in a variety of ways, although indirectly. It started with family camping with her younger brother’s Cub Scout troop. Then, last year, when she turned 14, Cash joined up with Sea Scout Ship 1117, one of the BSA’s venturing programs. When she learned that girls would be allowed to join the traditional scouting program through Scouts BSA, she was thrilled.

“I was definitely beyond excited,” Cash said. “I had seen my brother go on camping trips for years, and I had always wanted to actually be able to do them. So when they finally announced that they were creating all-female troops, I was very happy I would finally get to do all the things I had been wanting to do for years.”

With no local Scouts BSA troop yet established, Cash joined as a “lone scout” on Feb. 1, and began attending meetings with the newly-formed all-female troop in New Bern. Starting in two weeks, Cash is taking the next step — forming a new all-girl Scouting BSA Troop right here in Washington.

This week, Cash and her mother, Susan, have been making the rounds to open houses at schools throughout the county in an attempt to recruit new members. While Cash says she’s had a lot of positive response from girls excited to join, an all-girl BSA troop is still a controversial topic for some.

“There is a lot of support, but there is some opposition, because this is something new,” said Susan Cash. “Someone said ‘I’m all for equal opportunity and equal rights, but girls don’t belong in Boy Scouts.’ So it’s kind of scary with that, but also very exciting.”

“It’s also about getting out there and showing that we’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” Ashleigh added. “We are here to try and convince all the people that oppose girls in scouting that this is a good idea and that we do belong in this program just as much as the boys do.”

Regardless of one’s thoughts on the topic, the trend of all-girl Scouts BSA troops is growing in eastern North Carolina. According to BSA District Director Grady Mullis, since the organization began allowing girls to join Scouts BSA in February, five new all-girl troops have been established in the 21-county East Carolina Council, with a total of 50 girls participating so far regionally among 22,000 nationwide. Another group is in the works in Greenville.

“Girls began joining Cub Scouts in May 2018, and then in February of 2019, we opened up the traditional Boy Scout program to girls and renamed that traditional 11-17 program as Scouts BSA,” Mullis explained. “Girls can join Cub Scouts, and they can be placed in separate dens than the boys, and then with the Scouts BSA program, girls can go through the exact same program the traditional Boy Scouts go through, but they have to be in a completely separate troop.”

Mullis added that the BSA’s other programs, Exploring, Venturing and Sea Scouts, have been open to girls for decades. Until February, Mullis says the United States was one of the last countries in the world that did not allow girls to be involved in all scouting programs available.

The new Scouts BSA Troop will hold a cookout and sign up night at First United Methodist Church in Washington at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 3. For those who can’t attend, the next meeting will be on Sept. 9 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. To join, girls must be at least 11 years old, and have completed fifth grade. The cost to join is $60, which includes registration through December 2020 and a shirt. Girls who attend are encouraged to bring a friend.