A year after Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 65 in Circle Pines formed a troop for girls, it now has its inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts.
Maren Johnson, Elisabeth Bley and Anna Peterson have all achieved the Eagle Scout rank.
“I am so proud of these girls. To make the rank of Eagle takes a lot of determination, planning and leadership skills. They had to learn Scout skills, earn merit badges, serve in leadership roles and plan and complete an Eagle project,” Scoutmaster Terri Johnson explained. “I feel so lucky that I got to be part of the journey for these young ladies. I could not be prouder of them.”
In 2019, only 8% of Scouts earned the highest attainable rank. Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges and demonstrating Scout spirit through the Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership. Eagle Scouts must also organize, lead, manage and complete a service project.
Johnson said that the pandemic made an already challenging achievement even more difficult. “Many opportunities to earn merit badges were canceled because of COVID-19, so the Scouts had to work hard to compete them on their own or find online classes. They all had the same requirements for Eagle projects, but they had to include COVID precautions as well.”
The Boy Scouts started accepting girls as Cub Scouts in 2018, and older girls were admitted to the flagship Scouting program in 2019. More than 140,000 girls have joined. Boy Scouts honored nearly 1,000 young women from its inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts in a virtual ceremony last month.
BSA Troop 65 was founded 66 years ago and is chartered to Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Circle Pines. In February 2019, the girls’ troop formed with six members. The boys’ troop currently has 13 members and the girls’ troop currently has eight members. In addition to the three female Eagle Scouts, the troop has also had 47 male Eagle Scouts. Scouts come from Blaine, Circle Pines, Lexington, East Bethel, Anoka and Cedar. Although the groups operate as separate troops, the two groups often participate in activities together.
“I feel fortunate that we got to have a linked troop that accepted the girl’s troop as well as they did. It really helped especially early on when we had so much to learn,” Johnson said.
Inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts
Johnson’s daughter, Maren, is a senior at Blaine High School. She achieved the Eagle rank in January. Maren, one of the original members of the troop, was thrilled when BSA started accepting girls.
“My brothers were in Scouting and so I watched them go through everything. When they were in Cub Scouts, I was able to be very involved in what they were doing, but as it reached into the older ages, siblings weren't able to participate as much,” she said. “My brothers told me all of these fun stories about Scouting, and I wanted to do that.”
Maren joined several Venturing groups at the age of 14. Venturing is one of the core programs of the BSA that serves young men and women who are at least 14 years old. Troop 65 marks the fifth Scouting group Maren is a part of. “I like to be busy,” she said.
“It (achieving Eagle) kind of was a thing of trying to prove to myself that I could do it, because when they first allowed girls, not that many people believed that we could actually do it in a short amount of time,” she said. “I wanted to show my brothers that I could beat them and do it in half the time that they were allowed to do it, and I did it.”
Maren has four older brothers, two of who are Eagle Scouts. Maren’s project was expanding a fox cage at the Wildlife Science Center in Stacy, Minnesota. After she graduates, Maren plans to attend Winona State University to pursue a degree in biology. Her dream is to one day be a zookeeper or work for the Department of Natural Resources.
Bley, 19, of East Bethel, graduated from high school in 2019 and achieved her Eagle rank in January. (BSA previously implemented a one-time extension in January 2019 giving newly admitted girls who were 16 or 17 years old 24 months to complete Eagle Scout requirements.)
Bley grew up around Scouts. Her two older brothers are Eagle Scouts and her younger brother is a Life Scout. “I’ve kind of always done what they did, but the other part is because it is an achievement and I wanted to be able to learn something outside of school,” she said.
Bley’s project was installing a pollinator garden for the city of Andover at City Hall and in two parks.
Bley said BSA has taught her invaluable leadership skills. “I am not much of a leader, so it has helped me to stand up in front of people,” she said. “Scouts is really a safe place to fail. So, if you want to learn leadership, or even if you are afraid of learning leadership, it's a good place to start.”
Bley is pursuing a creative writing degree at Anoka Ramsey Community College. Her dream is to become a published author.
Peterson, a sophomore at Centennial High School, is the daughter of Eric Peterson, former scoutmaster and current committee chair.
For many years before BSA accepted girls, Peterson tagged along with her father and older brother.
Peterson achieved the Eagle rank in October. For her project, she made face masks for senior living facilities. “Originally, I was going to build a loon’s nest, but then COVID hit and masks were needed,” she explained.
One reason Peterson was able to achieve the rank so fast is because she was very familiar with many of the skills required for merit badges from all those years of tagging along with her father and brother.
“(Scouts) gives you the experience of being a leader and being led,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun. You make new friends and you get to learn a lot.”
Lead Editor Shannon Granholm can be reached at 651-407-1227 or email@example.com.