Area’s first all-female scout troop led by Dianne CooperBy: Brody Fernandez Of Gold Country Media
Starting Feb. 1, the Boy Scouts of America will make history as girls between the ages of 11 and 17 can register in the same program as boys for the first time since 1910.
Girls will soon be fully-integrated within all Scout programs and Dianne Cooper will also make history as she becomes one of the first women to lead an all-female Scout troop in February.
Until June 2017, when the annoucement was made; girls could not join all Boy Scouts programs. Females could only join less-recognized programs that implemented older youth between ages 14 and 20. Explorers, Venturing and Sea Scouts were co-ed.
And for the first time, females will soon be able to earn the Eagle Scout rank, which remains the highest, most prestigious rank a Scout can earn.
Granite Bay’s Troop 121 Scoutmaster Mitchell Gorsen is happy for the changes and has faith in Cooper’s leadership.
“What she will bring to Scouts is unparalleled. Dianne, along with many women, are qualified to lead,” Gorsen said. “But very few have stepped up and agreed to be scoutmaster. It's a very large commitment.”
Cooper will also have help from other scouting volunteers who are knowledgeable and experienced, according to Gorsen.
Cooper, who lives in Roseville, will lead the new troop being formed for girls in the Placer County area. Gold Country Media asked Cooper to discuss this new troop and her answers follow.
What does the Scouts program mean to you and has it defined the way you live your life?
“To me, Scouts is a way to help young people develop the skills they will need to become successful teens and eventually productive adults. We can do this in a way that combines the practical (cooking and financial management) with the physical (camping and fitness), along with the spiritual and character building.
I'm not sure (Scouts) has defined the way I live my life but rather has helped me gain better focus and perspective. The values that scouting instills are the values that I want to experience in my life and the values that I hope to instill in the young people that I have had and will have the honor of working with in scouting.”
With February marking history for women and young girls in Scouts, what does it mean to you?
“For me, it brings a full circle to scouting in the United States. Boy Scouts was established in the U.S. in February of 1910 and here we are just over 100 years later fully embracing young women who have already been participating in some aspects of scouting - Cub Scouts, Venture Crew and Sea Scouts - for many years. Bringing all four programs into alignment from a membership perspective makes sense and gives young women a chance to choose their scouting path with no restrictions.”
Is it important to have all-female scouts since there has been an extensive history of all- male scouts?
“I sincerely believe that adult women will need to be an integral part of the program to help ramp it up and sustain it over time. In my own experience watching young Boy Scouts grow into men while watching, listening to and learning from adult males who share their stories and experiences is invaluable. The stories of summer camps, earning merit badges, struggling with difficulties and overcoming obstacles can give young people inspiration and encouragement. The Boy Scouts of America-encouraged positive adult interaction is character building and I very much hope that adult women will step up and share their stories of failure and success to model the way for the next generation of women inside of scouting, continuing the 100 years of traditions of the Boy Scouts of America.”