By Guest Blogger Selby Chipman, Eagle Scout, Scouts BSA Troop 219
When three of us from all-girl Troop 219G (which meets Monday nights at Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church), rang the bell after our Eagle Scout Board of Review, we knew we were among great company. Only a small percentage of scouts have achieved this rank since it was introduced in 1912. At the same time, we knew this was a singular moment for us and for Scouts BSA. We had become the first females in the Old North State Council and among the first in the nation to become Eagle Scouts.
“Ringing the bell together just like we helped each other along the way felt like the right thing to do,” shares Alexandria Santiago, a junior at Northern High School in Summerfield, .
Like Alexandra, Caroline Ruppel and I, both juniors at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, joined Scouts BSA just after females were officially allowed to form all-girl troops on February 1, 2019. Our troop’s first members called ourselves the Groundbreaker Patrol, which has turned out to be a great way to sum up our scouting experience so far.
“We really felt like we were breaking new ground for others who came after us,” comments Caroline. “We had a responsibility to do it right, do it well, and support each other along the way.”
While we expected surprise or even pushback at first, we were grateful that our brothers in Troop 600 welcomed us with a celebratory cake and a slideshow of pioneering women in history with a placeholder slide for us.
As our Scoutmaster Mike Matzinger and Assistant Scoutmaster Ellen Mannella know, we not only set out to complete all the rank requirements, but we did not cut any corners either. Yes, we wanted to live up to the Scout Oath and Law. However, we also wanted to learn new skills and have fun along the way. Together, we went paddle boarding on summer days, hiked trails in all kinds of weather, learned tomahawk throwing and fingerprinting, and made some really good meals (like Dutch oven steak fajitas) on campouts.
As we worked on our Eagle Scout Projects in the middle of the pandemic, we learned how important it was to rely on each other to complete projects that fit our interests and benefitted our community.
When my project, an elevated nature viewing station along the scenic Oak Ridge Mountains-to-Sea Trail, was approved, both Alexandra and Caroline – along with many others – offered to help. They came to project work days ready to haul concrete and lumber through muddy trails. We all learned to saw, drill, and bolt on days worthy of being on Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs. (He is an Eagle Scout along with countless others like Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, astronauts, CEOs, presidents, and now, us).
Once my project was done, we worked on Alexandra’s free food pantry for Hope Chapel in Greensboro and Caroline’s mobile information kiosk for Guilford Battleground Park. Together, we served each other and our communities while supporting conservation, addressing hunger, and highlighting local history.
In the future, all three of us agree that becoming Eagle Scouts is really a new beginning.
“We look forward to helping other scouts in our troop earn their Eagle rank this year,” says Caroline. “At the same time, we are continuing to serve our community with food drives, the Adopt-A-Highway program, by honoring veterans and more.”
“We hope to mentor many other young girls reach the same rank and show them how rewarding scouting can be,” concludes Alexandra. “This year, we have some exciting trips coming up – climbing and repelling, ziplining, horseback riding, whitewater rafting and SCUBA diving.”
We realize our journey to be among the first female Eagle Scouts is about more than us. As we continue in Scouting, we realize how important it is to help others along the way and pave the way for other female scouts in the future. We hope Scouts BSA looks back after a few years and thinks, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
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