Now that girls can join Boy Scouts, it was only a matter of time before siblings started competing with each other to be the best Scout in the family.
For 10-year-old Ana Garcia, being around the Boy Scout organization was like a second home for her. She tagged along with her mother to her brother’s Cub Scout meetings since she was 5 and watched as he thrived in the program — learning how to build a campfire and whittle a figurine.
Ana built a bird house, went camping and biking with the pack, but she wasn’t able to earn the activity pins girls weren’t allowed at the time.
But it all changed for her in October when Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced it was opening up its Cub Scout program to girls.
Now Ana is on the path to become one of the first girls to receive the highest rank of Eagle Scout.
“I don’t think they realize how historic it is but we as parents do,” said her mother, Celina Matabuena de Garcia. “These girls are the first generation to work on their Eagle Scout. I’m so excited about that for my daughter.”
She’s one of the first girls to join
“When I saw the announcement in October I showed Ana and asked her, ‘What’s your take on it?'” Matabuena de Garcia said.
“‘Oh mom!I have to join,’ she told me. ‘This is my opportunity to join. Why wouldn’t I do it?'”
Ana is one of 3,000 girls who signed up for Cub Scouts under the Early Adopter program, which allows girls to join before open enrollment in summer 2018.
She attended her first meeting as an official Cub Scout in February and is already set to earn her next rank at the end of May and graduate from Cub Scouts.
“She’s completing her rank faster than her brother,” Celina said. “She only had half a year to complete it while others usually have the whole school year.”
Her brother, Sebastian, just graduated Cub Scouts last year and is in the older youth program now called Scouts BSA.
“He knows she’s coming up right behind him,” their mother said. “So he’s like, ‘I have to step up my game.'”
A little healthy sibling competition has sparked between the two since they are so close together in the program. But Sebastian still looks out for his little sister and gives her tips on learning the new activities, like how to properly hold the pocket knife while whittling.
“He learns from her and in the same time mentors her,” Celina said. “They really help each other.”
The race is on to see who makes Eagle Scout first
For 12-year-old Sebastian, he has a little edge over his sister since he has been in scouting longer, but it’s a historic moment for both. For Ana, she could be part of the first inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts and is planning to join the Scouts BSA in February 2019, when the program opens for girls.
As a family, they can be one of the first brother and sister duos that have both obtain the covenant Eagle Scout rank.
Scouting is now for her entire family
Now that BSA is a place for both of her children, Celina said this has become a family activity and is actually making life easier, especially juggling after-school activities. She also serves as a Cubmaster for Ana’s pack and helps lead and organize the group’s activities.
“Having both in the same organization keeps me sane,” she said. “I don’t have to drive back and forth to different meetings since they are on the same day in the same place.”
This is one reason BSA decided to expand their membership to girls to help families consolidate extracurricular programs.
“Families today are busier and more diverse than ever. Most are dual-earners and there are more single-parent households than ever before, making convenient programs that serve the whole family more appealing,” the BSA statement said in October.
For its part, the Girl Scouts of USA said there’s still a place for an “all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly” environment. As both groups lose members to other afterschool activities, GSUSA’s leadership previously accused BSA of courting girls to boost falling enrollment .