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Girls head to camp to become Eagle Scouts for the first time in history

CENTRAL CITY, Iowa (KWWL) — For the first time ever girls are shooting, kayaking, and learning survival skills along with the boys at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Wakonda this week.

It’s all part of the Boy Scout’s of America’s Scouts BSA program that’s open to both boys and girls ages 11 to 17.

This follows a 2018 decision that stated girls could work their way up to the highest honor of an Eagle Scout.

“We’re sort of breaking records and having a great time,” said Shirley Woolum, an assistant director commission and troop 204G committee member.

Many of the girls at Camp Wakonda this week dreamed of joining in on the fun of camp with their brothers.

“They would always come home from a camp and say how fun it was,” said Wynema Downer, who recently finished her Scout requirements.

“I was like well, I guess I can’t join that so I just sort of gave up on that whole idea,” said Morgan Shelton, the senior patrol leader for her troop.

However, now that’s all changing.

“There were a lot of other people before me who wanted to join but couldn’t,” said Scout, Paisley Brown.

The girls get to form their own troops and become some of the first Scout’s BSA to earn Merit Badges alongside the boys.

“Our troop is still small because we just started in February. We have 6 girls and they’re all here at camp today,” said Woolums

There were multiple female troops this week and they were breaking down barriers while building up their confidence with outdoor activities.

“We got to go down to the range and shoot rifles, that was really cool,” said Shelton.

Today, the girls were taking their shot shoulder to shoulder with the boys after spending the week learning first-aid, survival and search and rescue skills, many for the first time.

“I like to think about it if they’re in a survival situation in the future they have a good basis of knowledge of how to get out of it,” said Woolums.

While some of the girls might not know it, they’re making history.

“I don’t really see any difference,” said Tenderfoot, Sylvia Woolum

However, others grasped the meaning of what their presence meant at camp this week and were glad to pave the way for others.

“Well, I feel like I’m being sort of an inspiration for other girls who want to join,” said Brown.

While they have separate troops and leaders, they have all the same requirements to earn their badges and they’re not afraid to take on the challenge.

“I want to reach Eagle,” said Sylvia Woolum.

“Well yeah, Eagle of course,” said Scout, Oliva Orszula.

The female troops all have female leaders assigned to them and they also have their own facilities and campsites as well.

For more details on the program, visit the Scouts BSA website.

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids

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