Not just for boys anymore: Group of Ocean County girls join Scouts BSA

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JACKSON TOWNSHIP -

It’s not just for boys anymore.

A group of Ocean County girls has become the first group of females to join the newly named Scouts BSA, formerly the Boy Scouts of America.

The girls took the oath Friday night to join Troop 402 in Jackson Township. They said that they were tired of waiting on the sidelines while the boys got to have all the fun.

“I woke up this morning and I’m like, ‘Wow, I’m a scout,’” says Kaiya Burgess.

The Boy Scouts of America announced in 2017 to make the organization co-ed, allowing girls to earn the same bandages and work towards the prestigious goal of Eagle Scout, just like the boys.

“When I was 7 or 8, I watched my brothers do all the fun stuff like getting ranks and get badges and I’ve always thought, ‘Well I can’t wait until they allow girls…so I can do all that fun stuff,” says Luci Juchniewicz.

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Troop 402 will be made up of only girls, per the Scout BSA rules. But they will get to work alongside their partner troop of boys.

"What Boy Scouts of America really wanted to do is give girls the opportunity to experience a gender-specific situation in which they can develop leadership skills together as girls,” says Scoutmaster Jean Dimech. “They also wanted to protect the boy culture in current troops."

Separate, but equal - that's how these new scouts describe this new endeavor.

"I’m excited to get to do first aid, and fitness is one of the ones that I’m excited for,” Burgess says.

Juchniewicz says, "I’ve always been into the art kind of category, so that's probably the first merit badge I want to earn."

The Jersey Shore Council says that Troop 402 is the first in the council, but not the only. There are other troops in the process of starting up. Officials say that 77,000 girls have signed for Scouts BSA across the country so far.

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