Girls spend Scouts BSA anniversary on campout
MUSTANG — When Ron Frampton's youngest daughter asked to join a Scouting group, it didn't occur to him that she meant the Boy Scouts.
The Lawton "girl dad" of three daughters was surprised to learn that 10-year-old Aliyah wanted to join one of the first girl troops in the once boys-only Scouts program.
Now, Frampton is leader of Aliyah's Webelos Troop.
And both of them are looking forward to the day she'll be promoted to a traditional troop for older girls — a privilege she would have been denied years ago because of her gender.
"I believe in the program," Frampton said.
The father and daughter were part of a group that recently celebrated a Scouting milestone.
One year ago on Feb. 1, the faith-based Boy Scouts of America welcomed female participants into the iconic Boy Scouts program. While the Boy Scouts' parent organization Boy Scouts of America kept its name, the name of the Boy Scouts program for youths ages 11-18 was officially changed to Scouts BSA. Both male and female participants in the Scouts BSA program are referred to as Scouts.
More than 90 girls and their adult leaders and parents participated in a special campout to mark the one-year anniversary for Scouts BSA girl troops. Twelve girl troops were represented at the two-day event held Jan. 31 through Feb. 1 at the Last Frontier Council's John W. Nichols Scouts Ranch in Mustang.
Turns out, there was plenty of interest in the inclusive Scouts program.
In the first year that girls were included into the Scouts BSA program, 301 girls have become involved in 33 girls troops in the Last Frontier Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Lauren Howery, the Last Frontier Council's Family Scouting executive, said the council has the distinction of being at the top in terms of girl involvement.
"We are No. 1 in the nation for councils our size for not only the number of girls we have in our program but for the number of troops," she said.
Jeff Woolsey, chief executive officer and scout executive for the Last Frontier Council, said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout of girls..
"I think it's great we've had the response from families and young ladies," he said.
"Young ladies were watching their brothers and when the opportunity came, they joined in — and they brought their friends."
Woolsey said he thinks convenience has been a key factor in the popularity of the newly inclusive program.
"We've got families who were bringing their boys and now it's a little more convenient for them to go to one place as a family," he said.
Girls at the recent campout had opportunities to try their hand at geocaching, archery, shooting skills, lashing, fire-making and knot-tying. They said they enjoyed the numerous opportunities for outdoor activities offered by Scouts BSA.
Kaydence Brightwell, 14, and Cadence Freeman, 10, of Troop 6222 of Noble, said they couldn't wait to join their troop whose charter organization is Noble's Discover Church.
"It's a lot of fun. It opens you up to so much more responsibility," Brightwell said.
Freeman said she has enjoyed learning about archery and BB guns.
"I was super excited about Scouts because my little brother goes," she said.
Opportunity to move up
In 2018, Boy Scouts of America opened the Cub Scouts (which includes Webelos) program for youths ages 5-10 to girls.
Without last year's program expansion, girls would essentially age out of the program because there was no option of joining a traditional troop.
Ron Frampton said he encountered some negativity about the inclusive nature of the program but he's been excited about his daughter's participation.
"We've met with some resistance in recruiting from people who thought Scouting should have stayed boys-only but the world is moving on and this is the next step," he said.
"I want my daughter to know that she can do anything she can put her mind to. That's what Scouting is all about — turning them into leaders."