By Morgan Hughes
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — Mady Goossen has been out-scouting the boys for most of her life. She can tie the knots, she can recite the pledge and the oath, and she's been holding three fingers up to the Boy Scout values for more than a decade. But prior to midnight Thursday, that was all done in an unofficial capacity.
But Friday, she and four other girls in Cheyenne were among the first girls in the country to be inducted into the Boy Scouts, now called Scouts BSA.
In October 2017, the Boy Scouts of America announced they would be accepting girls into an organization that had been boys-only for more than 100 years. In the statement announcing the change, Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said, "The values of Scouting - trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example - are important for both young men and women."
And Mady is glad to finally be recognized for the work she has been doing for so long.
"I was kind of upset that I didn't get rewarded for what I did, so I'm really excited to finally get the recognition that I've been waiting to get for a while," she said.
Mady isn't alone. She and the other four inductees - Julianna Johnson, Lizabeth Kidd, Melissa Kidd and Taylor Merriman-Fish - call themselves the "First Ladies" of Troop 221, and they say they're ready to prove to people that girls can do whatever boys can. The girls range from sixth grade to juniors in high school, but they all share the goal of bettering themselves through the Boy Scouts values.
Julianna has been attending Scout meetings and campouts since she was 2 years old. Her dad, Bobby Johnson, said she was beating the boys in knot-tying competitions since before she could walk. In fact, all of the new inductees have been involved with the Scouts unofficially for years.
But there has been resistance, and leading the charge against the change is the Girl Scouts of the USA, which is suing the Boy Scouts of America over the name change.
Julianna is in Girl Scouts, too, and she said the girls in her Girl Scout troop aren't happy with the idea.
"The girls aren't really happy with me being allowed to be in both," she said. "But I learn a lot of different skills in each one of them, and it helps me grow in both of them."
The new troop's scoutmaster, Valerie Merriman-Fish, said even some of her family members have been reluctant to accept the change. But she said ultimately, it's not about boys versus girls.
"It's just giving them another platform for them to be able to grow," she said. "They'll get a taste of different occupations, and I think just the teambuilding will definitely give them a head start in the workplace."
The girls themselves agree.
"Things can change," Melissa said.
The girls will now be able to work toward the Eagle rank, which all of them plan to do. And they said they will work together and build new skills that without the Scouts, they wouldn't have access to.
But being that these girls are in the first class of lady Scouts, they feel somewhat under the microscope, Merriman-Fish said.
"There are going to be people watching us," she said.
Julianna said that's not necessarily a bad thing, as it gives them an opportunity to be an example to others.
"There are people telling us, 'You can't do that, you're a girl,' so we want to leave that for the younger girls; we can do it, and so can they," she said.