Girls can now participate in programs sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America. Local Scoutmaster Stephen Wu outlined opportunities in the Los Altos area.
Thanks to a policy enacted in February, elementary-school-aged girls can join Cub Scouts in all-girl dens, and older girls can join all girl-troops in Scouts BSA, rebranded from the former Boy Scouts of America.
The four girls’ Scouts BSA troops in Los Altos meet weekly in separate locations and occasionally enjoy joint activities. Their activities are the same as, but separate from, the boys’ troops. Scouts BSA is a different program from Girl Scouts.
“Scouts BSA is unparalleled in offering youth the opportunity to learn life and outdoor skills, develop leadership, learn good character and have fun,” said Wu, leader of Scouts BSA Troop 4201 in Los Altos.
Wu encouraged girls ages 11-17 to observe a girls’ meeting, including his own troop’s one-hour Monday evening activities, scheduled 7:30 p.m. at the Los Altos Youth Center, 1 N. San Antonio Road. While girls may join at any time of year, the troop’s main start time for new Scouts is in February.
Girls’ troop leaders plan outdoor experiences at parks and Scout camps in the Boulder Creek area or in state parks such as Big Basin, Castle Rock, Henry Coe and others. The girls set up tents, prepare fire circles and cook on their one- or two-night trips, just like the boys. Summer camps offer longer-term experiences, with hiking nature studies, orienteering with a map and compass, and outdoor games. Night campfire programs featuring songs and skits are traditional highlights.
Physical fitness is emphasized through push-ups, stretching and running. Like the boys’ groups, beginning girls learn to set up camp, hike safely, administer first aid and use a knife, ax and saw. They learn swimming safety and rescue skills as well as the conservationists’ “outdoor code.” The girls bring their own gear and sometimes swap equipment with older girls who have outgrown theirs.
According to Wu, in addition to physical, outdoor activities, good citizenship, developed through service projects, is a key component of Scouting programs.
Like the boys, girls’ troops help with community projects such as the Rotary Club’s Fine Art in the Park show, the Easter Egg Hunt, tree planting and coastal cleanup at the beach.
The seven girls in Troop 4103, for example, have participated in service projects to help a boys’ Cub Scout pack and have assisted at Soup Night for their charter organization, St. Simon Church in Los Altos.
Their leader, Nan Boden, said the reason she became a Scoutmaster is “so girls can have the choice to participate in all BSA activities, including becoming Eagle Scouts.”
Although traditional Girl Scout troops are still active, the newer groups of girls under the umbrella of Boy Scouts of America emphasize outdoors programs, teach different skills and can progress to High Adventure camp in New Mexico, a Northern Tier canoeing camp in Minnesota and Canada, and even attend the Scout Jamboree in West Virginia.
Los Altos BSA Scout troops for girls welcome visitors and new members.