By Michael Malone
Delegate, District 33
Scouting began a little more than 110 years ago in England when Lord Baden Powell, a hero of the Second Boer War and author of a military field manual, took 21 adolescent boys camping in the woods for two weeks, teaching them observation, deduction, woodcraft, boating, lifesaving and patriotism. Scouting spread to America in 1909, when Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost in the London fog when a Boy Scout came to his aid. After guiding Boyce to his destination, the boy refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed. Similarly, Juliette Gordon Lowe, inspired by a meeting with Lord Baden Powell, founded the Girl Scouts of America in 1912, before women were even granted the right to vote. In 1930, Boy Scouts began the Cub Scout program for younger boys, and in 1998 started Venturing, which now is a co-ed outdoor program for older youth.
Both scouting organizations, despite not being affiliated, promote leadership, service and adventure for America's youth. Eagle Scouts succeed in many different arenas, and range from Gerald Ford and Michael Dukakis to Sam Walton and Richard Covey to Wynton Marsalis and Steven Spielberg. Sixty percent of American astronauts, including Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell, were Eagle Scouts, and astronauts Sally Ride and Christa McAuliffe were Girl Scouts. Prominent Girl Scouts range from Venus Williams and Jackie Joyner-Kersey, to Gwyneth Paltrow and Taylor Swift, to Barbara Mikulski and Hillary Rodham Clinton. According to 2010 study by Baylor University, compared with non-Scouts, Eagle Scouts are more than 60 percent more likely to volunteer time to an organization, more than 70 percent more likely to vote and hold leadership positions in the community or workplace, 80 percent more likely to take a course or class, and more than 90 percent more likely to work with a group that protects the environment.
Scouting has always been a major part of my family. I am one of the first Eagle Scouts from Troop 115 in Crofton, and my two oldest sons became Eagle Scouts with Troop 769 in Odenton, while my youngest crosses over to Boy Scouts next month. My daughter has been a Girl Scout for more than seven years and has grown up listening to her brothers' exploits at Philmont Scout Ranch, camping at Old Rag, spelunking and so on, and has even gone on her brothers' family scout trips to aquatics camp, the Capitol, and Great Falls. Now she and other girls can join Scouts BSA, earn merit badges and plan and go on outings, in their own right.
This month, Scouting BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts of America, officially opens its doors to girls ages 11-17 for participation in girls-only troops. (Girls under 11 or younger than eighth grade were welcomed last year into Cub Scouts.) Dens and troops are single-gender; girls can't join an existing Cub Scout den, instead forming a girls-only den in a Cub Scout Pack or a girls-only troop. Troops or dens can be formed with five girls, and female troops are already forming here in Anne Arundel County. These include Troop 214 in Crofton, Troop 2019 in Edgewater, Troop 1975 in Severn, and Troops 422 and 396 in Annapolis. Some, like Troop 422, are linked to an existing Boy Scout troop and share the same number; others are forming independently with a unique troop number. Either way, both male and female troops will enjoy the same curriculum, with opportunities to earn merit badges, attend summer camp, and otherwise enjoy outdoor and leadership activities.
A great part of being a delegate is presenting House of Delegate recognition citations at Eagle Court of Honors. I am looking forward to presenting an Eagle citation to young women in the near future.