MHS girls engage in organization previously known as Boy Scouts

Elina Bishoyi | The Chronicle

Mason High School (MHS) girls are scouting for adventure through Scouts BSA. 

Originally created with the intent of training young boys in survival skills and discipline for the military, Scouts BSA has undergone many changes since it was founded as the program’s focus shifted to the development of character and skill.

In 2017, the Boys Scouts of America made the decision to accept girls into the organization after families pushed for the change. The organization began officially welcoming girls in 2019 and changed its name to “Scouts BSA” to adapt to the new policy.

Before the decision, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts were exclusive to their respective genders, however, now the Scouts BSA program is inclusive of all genders. For troops in Mason, Scouts BSA have separate meetings for girls and boys, but handle excursions and projects together.

Junior Hannah Knuth who is currently the president of the Venturing Scouts crew in Mason, was previously a part of the Girl Scouts organization. Knuth said she has liked the different opportunities that Scouts BSA has provided her over those in Girl Scouts.

“[Girl Scouts] felt more like crafts and projects you do on your own,” Knuth said. “It was more service-related, but Boy Scouts is more fun activities, life skills and outdoor skills. [Venturing] focuses on high adventure [activities] and I like the more challenging things.”

Junior McKenzie Kirchoff has been a part of Scouts BSA since they allowed women members in 2019. Kirchoff said she has noted significant effects in her personal life since she has been in the organization.

“Scouting has made me more competent at being a leader,” Kirchoff said. “I wasn’t too good at public speaking or leading big groups. Once I got into [BSA] and started being a leader within the program, it made me feel confident in myself.”

Senior Matthew Lyons has been in the Scouts BSA and Cub Scouts, a Scouts program designed for children up to fifth grade, for a total of 11 years. He said that the program has changed for the better with the inclusion of girls.

“My older sister used to complain about not being able to do Scouts like I did,” Lyons said. “It never really made sense to me why [girls] couldn’t join. We don’t have a reason to be reserved to boys, it’s a great experience for everybody.”

Eagle Scout is the highest rank of the Scouts BSA program and the Summit Rank is the highest rank of the Venturing BSA program. Before the change in the organization, girls were unable to earn this rank, but now members like Kirchoff contribute their time, effort and skills to the community in the form of an Eagle Project or Summit Award Service Project. Kirchoff is currently working on her own Eagle Scout project to make “exit bags” filled with supplies for women leaving a women’s shelter in Lebanon.

“I want to help [my community],” Kirchoff said. “When [the women] are leaving the shelter, they usually don’t have much. My [Eagle] project is getting supplies to help them get back on their feet.”

Senior Naomi Abernathy joined Scouts as a founding member of the troop in Mason. Previously a member of a Girl Scouts organization in Virginia, Abernathy said she wanted to experience being a member in Scouts BSA when she moved to Mason. Abernathy’s Eagle Project coordinated with

The Lighthouse Foundation, an organization that assists homeless children and provides resources for the LGBTQ+ community, and The Dragonfly Foundation, an organization that provides support and care for families who have children with cancer. She painted large canvases for the organizations to display at their locations. As an aspiring art education major, Abernathy said that her Eagle Project inspired her to explore her career interests through

other means, including Teacher Academy and painting for students.

“My Eagle Project was great for me to be able to bring out that artistic side,” Abernathy said. “My work with the sixth-grade art teachers and other opportunities wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t had the Eagle Scout experience.”

Abernathy finished her Eagle Project in April 2023 and has remained involved with Scouts BSA in other leadership positions. Abernathy said Scouts BSA provides unique opportunities for everyone, regardless of gender.

“Sometimes we associate certain personalities with [Scouts],” Abernathy said. “I think when people see girls in the [Scouts] uniform they think about selling cookies, but you can be a girly girl and still enjoy camping. There isn’t a set of parameters you have to fit in to enjoy [Scouts].”