Every time 10-year-old Ansley Close recites the Scout oath or adds a new badge to her Webelos Cub Scout uniform, she challenges the opinion that Scouting is only for boys. When the Boy Scouts of America — now rebranded as Scouts BSA — officially began welcoming girls into the organization this February, Ansley became the first girl on Signal Mountain to join.
From her place within Cub Scout Pack 3116, she is helping to blaze a trail for other female recruits who have already begun to join the pack. NPR reported in February that more than 77,000 young girls had joined nationwide.
» Since there wasn't a lot of girls, boys said that girls shouldn't be allowed, and I wanted to prove them wrong. They kind of thought that since a girl was in, it may slow them down.
» In P.E. [at school], they make different obstacles easier just for the girls. I don't like that 'cause I feel like they're saying "[Girls are] too slow."
» We do obstacles [in Scouts BSA]. You have to jump up and touch a tree. You have to go over the wall. You have to carry a big basket of sand that's very heavy all the way up and down hills. Sometimes I'm behind, but then I get every badge for it, and then I keep getting badges.
» They don't know how physical girls can be and how brave and strong they are until they actually see it. I can show them that I am faster and stronger than they really know.
» Some people thought I would be behind at Webelos* since I didn't go through all of the levels 'cause girls weren't allowed then, but I showed them that I could be a Webelo and I could be ahead of the game. [*A Webelo is a program of the Scouts for children who have not yet completed the fifth grade or reached age 11 1/2, which are the requirements for one to join a BSA troop.]
» [For example], we would tie knots with bamboo, and I would keep track of what the troop manager [was] saying and plan everything out while other boys are just goofing around. Then, I would either get done first or I would know what to do when others would be struggling. They would have to ask [for help] over and over again, and I would already be done once they figured it out.
» Some boys think that they should be rude so we'll leave, but really, they're just giving us more bravery in ourselves to keep on going, to show them that they're wrong.
» I kinda started building up my strength and confidence in myself because of what they said. I don't want them to bring me down. I want to show them that girls can be brave enough and strong enough to get to the next level.
» I don't have that same determination [in Girl Scouts] because everyone does the same thing. We're just coloring with markers; it has to be safety scissors; you have to wash your hands. We don't go outside to use sticks to draw in the mud or to do crafts in the mud. In Boy Scouts, you use knives; you don't use scissors. You go outside, you cut bamboo, you make rafts.
» [Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts] combined kinda fill my heart up 'cause I feel like I can do crafts and have a little break and eat cupcakes and sing along with my friends [in Girl Scouts], then in Boy Scouts you're kinda on it.
» It allows girls to show that they're more than just pretty. That they can be brave and strong and be beautiful doing it.