BUFFALO, NY (WIVB) — It’s been three years since girls were welcomed to join Scouts BSA, formerly known as Boy Scouts.
Now, some of those girls are Eagle Scouts and others are close to earning the prestigious designation, including Jeanetta Lewis.
“My younger self would probably look at me confused and say, ‘How?'” Lewis said.
He watched his brothers grow up in Scouts. Ever since she can remember, she wanted to be a part of it.
“I wanted to learn all the skills that they were learning, I wanted to do all the things that they were doing.”
Turns out Lewis wasn’t the only one. Gaby Wild. Falcon O’Donnell, Eva Peters and Ava Romeo also saw the siblings excel on the show.
The five of them never felt that Girl Scouts was a good fit.
In early 2019, Scouts BSA announced that it would allow girls to join. For these girls, it took a long time to arrive.
“My little brother joined as a Lion and my dad said I could do it because they just opened it up so I went to one of his meetings and I thought it was great,” Wild said.
“I’ve always wanted and hoped one day I could do it and things like that, I always thought it was so much fun,” Peters added.
“I found out that girls were allowed to participate in the scouting program and I said, ‘Finally!’” Romeo said.
While Wild joined later, the other four girls have been together since the beginning, led by Scoutmaster Leah Romeo. Scouting has been a family tradition for all three of her children, and she said Scouts BSA was by far the best option.
“When I heard what the structure of the BSA would be where the girls would have their own leadership and the boys would have their own leadership, and then they would just work together, it was impressive,” she said. “So it made me feel a lot more comfortable that everyone had the same opportunities.”
The troop goes to camp and the girls have earned many merit badges. They support each other as individuals, but do everything as a group.
“I’m so proud of us as a troop, how far we’ve come, how diligent we are in our work and how we can make things work for us in the toughest of times,” O’Donnell said. “All of these experiences have brought us closer together as a group and I think it has been very beneficial for all of us to learn from each other.”
In 2020, O’Donnell became the first female Eagle Scout in Erie County.
“Everyone was like, ‘Oh, this is a great achievement, you’re the first girl in the entire Greater Niagara Border Council.’ And I’m like, ‘That means something to me, but it probably doesn’t mean as much as it should,’ and I’ll probably look back on it when I’m older and be like, ‘Wow, she did what.'”
The other girls are close behind, many of them just months away from becoming Eagle Scouts.
“It’s always been something that I’ve been excited about, so the prospect of actually being this close makes me feel happy every time I think about it, and I feel like it makes me proud to know that I managed to become an Eagle Scout. Lewis said.
Ava Romeo spoke of the feeling of achieving what her older brother had.
“I was always trying to be as good as my older brother, because I always wanted to win every merit badge and get the highest rank and stuff on the other shows, like him, because I wanted to be at least as good as him. good as him,” she said. “I feel very good”.
Scoutmaster Romeo said this experience shows that there is a good, balanced way for everyone to be equal. He said that while everyone will approach the program differently, everyone will have the same opportunity and said that it is a good example for society.
“I hope to see people have options and girls have opportunities in many different places, and ironically, it was with the Boys Scouts of America that they had this great opportunity to be equal and do a program that they didn’t have access to. to before.”
The girls agree: it was the best decision they made.
“I hope one day it’s not just male-dominated, it’s not ‘the girls are joining the boys,’ but it’s actually equal to equal.”
The Greater Niagara Border Council registered 223 girls at the end of last year. They say that the interest of the local girls continues to grow.
Kayla Green is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of her work here.