Lauren Adams is confident that the leadership skills she is learning in the Boy Scouts of America program will one day lead to her stepping up to help others in need. “I’m really proud of myself for doing this cause it like makes me boost my confidence,” said Adams, 12, of Boise. “If I’m backpacking, I can tell people what to do and not just stand back and be shy.”
Adams is the assistant senior patrol leader for Troop 7, which was one of four girl troops this summer welcomed at Camp Morrison in McCall for the first time since it was dedicated in 1966.
In February, the national Boy Scout program for boys ages 11-18 changed its name to Scouts BSA and began accepting girls into the program to make it more family-oriented. “As soon as girls were allowed to be in the scouts program, we just knew we were going to do it,” said Richard Sotto, camp director at Camp Morrison since 2005.
Last week, Troop 7 joined 18 boy troops in earning merit badges for archery, wilderness survival, basketry, canoeing, woodcarving and dozens of other outdoor activities.
“It’s fun doing it with the boys because you can learn from them because most of them have been here before,” Adams said.
Most of the boys, who are ages 11-17, were helpful with teaching things like fire starting or pitching tents to Adams and the five other girls in her troop, though some still viewed girls as “gross,” she said.
Meanwhile, the girls helped the boys to be “professional” and stay organized during flag ceremonies and other formal camp functions. “You just have to set a good example for them,” Adams said.
Adams, a former Girl Scout, noted the biggest difference between the programs is that Scouts BSA is more leadership-based and allows scouts to independently choose the activities they want to do. “It’s more self-led than troop leader-led,” she said. Allowing girls into the program has transformed it into a family outing that allows brothers, sister and parents to all share the week, said Libby Adams, the mother of Lauren and two boys in Troop 7.
“It gives us the opportunity to go camping together or do different scouting activities that I don’t know that we would do as just the family because of all our other obligations, said Adams, Troop 7 Scoutmaster.
The girls of Troop 7 were welcomed by Camp Morrison staffers and other scouts, though the reception was not “anything special,” which Adams believes was appropriate and by design.
Boys and girls working together as part of Scouts BSA helps teach youths cross-gender conflict resolution that will help prepare them for adult life, said Adams, 43.
“It’s good because in the real world, when they all grow up, we’re working with men and women of all sizes, shapes and colors,” she said. “Scouting gives them a safe opportunity to learn to do so.”
Adams’ daughter participated with her two brothers during their Boy Scouts activities in the past, but could not be awarded the merit badges until this year. “She (Lauren) was beside herself,” Adams said of her daughter when she found out she could officially participate moving forward.
“She was so excited at the opportunity, really because of the character development and the ability to have leadership positions,” she said.
Adams pulled her daughter out of Girl Scouts to make the switch to Scouts BSA, but still credits the organization for teaching girls unique skills like marketing and money management. Scouts Brenna MacMaster and Riley Unruh both called the program “tiring,” but noted they have enjoyed the more rustic camping experience and the wide array of daily activities.
Some of their friends “scoffed” at them after joining Scouts BSA, so MacMaster and Unruh hope to have a hand in dispelling the perception that the program is only for boys.
“When one starts, others follow,” said MacMaster, 11. Troop 7 is based in southeast Boise and currently includes 32 boys and six girls. It is chartered by Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 63.
Camp Morrison is located on Eastside Drive and can accommodate up to 600 scouts at a time across its 28 camp sites on more than 140 acres
BY DREW DODSON
The Star-News, McCall