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August 8, 2022

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San Diego young women earn history-making first Eagle Scout rank

Two years after girls were allowed to join the Boy Scouts, 17 San Diegans joined the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts.

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego-Imperial Scouts BSA recognized its first female Eagle Scouts this week. Girls were welcomed into the Boy Scouts two years ago and 17 quickly moved up the ranks to earn the program’s highest honor.

“It took me about a year and a half,” said 8th grader Emily Hobson. “If the time requirements weren’t even there, it would have been done a lot faster, but I think the time requirements really slowed me down and like grounded me and had me interested longer.”

Scouts must serve in leadership positions to attain certain ranks.

Girls have their own troops but participate in the same activities, which at times caused controversy for other scouts.

At camporee in 2019, which is a big council-wide campout, someone told us to ‘get back to the kitchen,’ which was very hurtful, but instead of confronting them we won best overall for the whole thing,” said Hobson. “It was really rewarding seeing that person’s face.”

Several girls also participated in Girl Scouts or other scouting programs. Many cited the Boy Scouts’ emphasis on outdoor adventures as one of the reasons they wanted to join. Others had family members who were Eagle Scouts and were motivated to follow in their footsteps.

The program requires scouts to earn 21 merit badges, including First Aid, which came in handy for one scout on her path toward Eagle when another scout got sick.

“I was able to treat her for hypothermia and it’s because of scouting that I really had that background to do that. Those kinds of skill sets are going to help us with the rest of our life,” said Eagle Scout Eden Tillotson.  “I want to work with Doctors Without Borders, so I know that those first aid skills and that ability to go into new and maybe scary situations, you’re able to deal with it well.”

All Eagle Scouts must successfully organize and fulfill a community project. Tillotson channeled her passion for others for hers by organizing a mask-making assembly line that created 1,160 masks for refugees and asylum seekers who recently arrived in San Diego.

Since scouting’s inception, only about 2% of all scouts earn the rank of Eagle although the percentage is growing each year and may grow faster now that girls have joined.

All scouts must earn the rank of Eagle by their 18th birthday, regardless of when they joined, which limits how much time some older girls can spend in the program.

“I’d just tell [other girls], go for it, break the glass ceiling, bring down the barriers because it’s so important that we represent and we bring our A-game and bring our best to the table because it’s still hard to this day,” said Hobson. It can be hard, but if it’s not hard, then what would you get out of it?”

Scouts BSA will honor the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts on Feb. 21 during a Be The Change celebration that will feature some of the San Diego area’s scouts.

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