Girls can now officially join the Boy Scouts

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Pitching tents, tying knots and shooting guns are not just for the boys anymore. Starting Feb. 1, girls can join the Boy Scouts of America.

It is the same pledge, the same exciting and meaningful activities. Only now, young women are signing up for Scouts BSA.

"Girls will form their own troops, they won’t be part of boy troops. They’ll have their own organizations, they’ll have their own units within the troops,” explained Greater Tampa Bay Area Council Scouts BSA liaison, Trish Guglielmi. “But they’ll still be following the BSA guidelines and activities and programs that have always been available."

In the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, Troop 483 is one of the first all-girl units in the country. They already have seven members, and aren't wasting any time.

The girls are going camping this weekend along with co-ed Cub Scout Pack 481, and all-boy Troop 482.

"A lot of the girls in this troop are the sisters to those boys and they’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching their brothers all these years," said Troop 483 Committee Member Julie Hewett.

And the young ladies are thrilled to get their hands dirty.

“I love doing it because you get to do so many activities, and you get to meet new people, and you get to have the best friends that are in your den or that are in your troop, and you just have a lot of fun," 11-year-old Lilly Quinn said.

Hannah Hewett, 11, said she most looks forward to going on adventures with the troop.

“I love going on the rock wall that they have at the camp sites, and I love swimming and taking the swim test," she said.

Over the summer, the organization started admitting girls into the Cub Scouts. In the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council, 850 girls joined local packs.
Troop 483, along with two other all-girl Scout BSA troops, became official in the Greater Tampa Bay Area Council on Friday, and leaders hope that number jumps to 36 troops by May.

"It's just a tremendous opportunity because Boy Scouts of America is such a well-rounded program,” Hewett said. “It teaches leadership, outdoor skills, survival skills, and it's values based and so it's just an exciting opportunity for these girls to be able to work towards and achieve the same accomplishments that their brothers in the Boy Scouts have been able to this whole time."

It also means the young women can realize their dreams of becoming Eagle Scouts, the organization's coveted highest rank.
"We all really want to be one of the first girls to have Eagle Scout, it's going to be awesome," Alexis Hewett said.

The Greater Tampa Bay Area Council is hosting an open house Saturday, Feb. 2 from 10 a.m. to noon. It's a chance to introduce girls to the Scouts BSA program, and even join a troop.  

For more information, visit their website.