Come February, 15-year-old Amy Miseli plans to join Boy Scouts of America.
The Lakewood resident will be one of many teen girls across the country doing the same as BSA opens its doors to girls in the new year and changes its name to Scouts BSA.
Scouting might be brand new to many girls who look to join, so BSA leadership created a new program meant to help ease the transition.
It’s called BSA Boot Camp for Girls, and it’s the first of its kind.
“This is something specific to Pacific Harbors Council. It’s something that we put together,” said Amanda Lafferty, assistant council commissioner for family scouting and organizer of the boot camp. “We decided that the girls are going to need to learn some skills when they come in.”
At the boot camp, which is being held at Camp Thunderbird in Olympia, girls will learn scouting skills such as fire building, how to correctly set up tents, how to use maps and compasses, knot tying, how to obtain clean drinking water and the proper handling of pocket knives, axes and saws.
Any girl age 13-17 interested in joining Boy Scouts in the future is encouraged to attend. They do not have to be registered with BSA or have any experience.
“Our target audience is really those girls who have no exposure to scouting whatsoever,” said Barb Perez, BSA district director. “The program will prepare these girls who are potentially brand new to scouting.”
For Miseli, that’s not the case. She said she was interested in partaking in the boot camp after growing up alongside her brother.
“I was raised always witnessing my brother do things (in Boy Scouts),” Miseli said. “Watching him do the program made me want to do the program ... I think that being able to learn more about the program presents lots of opportunities and that’s sort of what sparked an interest for me.”
The boot camp is meant to create leaders among future girl troops.
“The people who do boot camp will have on Day 1 a knowledge base that will help everybody who comes in,” said Scott Compton, assistant scoutmaster for Troop 525 and cubmaster for Pack 526. The groups are part of the Mount Tahoma district in the BSA Pacific Harbors Council.
The council represents more than 9,000 scouts from Federal Way to Chehalis and the Washington coast to the Cascade foothills. The council is split into seven districts.
The Mount Tahoma district, which represents Puyallup, Edgewood and Orting, voted three weeks ago to accept girls into its program. Last year, they were one of the first to be a part of the BSA Early Adopter program, which accepts younger girls into packs.
Compton’s pack started with five girls last year. There are now 11.
So far, about 40 girls have registered for the boot camp. BSA leaders believe they’ll see a jump in membership come February, but they’re not sure by how much.
“We’re starting troops essentially with girls that are not going to know scouting,” Lafferty said. “So we needed a few girls to step up as leaders and to lead the way with the younger scouts. That’s what this BSA boot camp is really looking to do. It’s looking to make sure we have some leadership in the Scout BSA groups as the girls come in.”
About the event
What: BSA Boot Camp for Girls
When: Friday, Oct. 5 through Sunday, Oct. 7
Where: Camp Thunderbird, 11740 Summit Lake Road NW in Olympia
Cost: $45 per youth, $25 per adult starting Sept. 19; $55 per youth, $35 per adult starting October 1st, 2018