SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Dressed in the neckerchiefs and khaki shirts worn traditionally by the Boy Scouts of America, the girls of Troop 2 Kingston made history last week as they joined thousands of girls across the country in becoming official members of Scouts BSA.
“It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to do something that nobody else will get a chance to do—to be the first in the United States to do something that’s important,” William Boardman, the Troop 2 scoutmaster, said Monday, days after his troop was sworn in.
With their families and their counterparts of Troop 1 Kingston and Pack 66 Kingston there to bear witness, seven girls out of nearly a dozen in total gathered at Christ the King Church in Kingston just before midnight last Thursday for the historic swearing in ceremony.
“Two things happened on Feb. 1,” Boardman said.
On Friday, Feb. 1, Boy Scouts of America changed the name of its Boy Scouts pilot program to Scouts BSA, Boardman explained, as girls ages 11 to 17 were officially welcomed into the organization, which, since its incorporation in 1910, had been open to just boys.
As he leads the girls of his troop into their Scouts careers, Boardman said his goal is to help them become “responsible and participating citizens and leaders” and to provide them with opportunities that in the past were unavailable to them.
“It’s important that girls can enjoy the same opportunities as the boys and be recognized as being just as capable,” Boardman added.
And that includes having the chance to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
“Becoming an Eagle Scout takes perseverance and hard work over many years,” Boardman said, adding that it also requires completion of six preceding ranks, as well as “a demonstrated understanding of outdoor skills” like knot-tying and first aid.
As the girls work toward that highest rank, they’ll participate in the same sorts of activities as members of the Boy Scouts have historically taken part in—activities like camping, hiking, rock climbing, zip-lining and kayaking.
Under the regional Narragansett Council, Troop 2 Kingston has been chartered by Christ the King Church and is part of what Boardman refers to as the “Kingston Trio.” The trio is made up of Troop 1 and Troop 2 of Kingston and Cub Scout Pack 66, which welcomed its first girl members last year.
Founded in 1923, Troop 1 Kingston has been “very welcoming” toward the girls, Boardman said.
“They’re excited to see their sisters join in the fun,” he added.
Boardman, who is a former Scoutmaster of Troop 1 Kingston and Cubmaster of Pack 66 Kingston, also lauded the leaders of those troops for being “extremely helpful.”
“I’ve had huge support from Troop 1 Kingston and Pack 66 Kingston,” Boardman continued, adding that many of the leadership positions within Troop 2 Kingston are filled by scout leaders of Troop 1 Kingston. “They have a real serious, dedicated attitude toward supporting girls in this new adventure.”
Boardman, whose son Andrew is a Troop 1 Kingston Eagle Scout and whose daughter Sophia is among the girls to join his troop last week, added that he hopes in time to see more girls join the troop.
Standing late Thursday night before their families and friends, seven members of one of the nation’s first ever all-girls Scouts BSA troop counted down to Feb. 1, when they could officially become Scouts.
And as the clock struck midnight, the girls of Troop 2 Kingston raised three fingers into the air as they recited the Scout Oath. Applause echoed through the church as those in attendance celebrated the historic moment.