MUSKEGON COUNTY, Mich. — A little more than two years after Boy Scouts of America, now known as Scouts BSA, allowed girls to join, the organization is preparing to celebrate its first group of female Eagle Scouts this weekend.
According to the Michigan Crossroads Council, five of the girls making up the nearly 1,000 person inaugural class are from West Michigan, including Grand Rapids, South Haven, and Greenville.
April Bowlin, who lives in Norton Shores, is also one of them.
“I’m really proud of it,” said Bowlin. “It’s something that not a lot of other people can say for sure.”
Bowlin, 17, says it’s an accomplishment years in the making.
“I just always really wanted to make Eagle,” said Bowlin. “Like it’s something that a lot of people hold a lot of respect for.”
The rank is the organization’s highest honor and offers lifelong academic and professional benefits.
Bowlin’s journey to it began in February 2019 when she joined Troop 1053, which is led by her grandfather. Bowlin’s older brother, step father, and his three brothers also hold the rank.
“I just jumped right in,” said Bowlin. “There’s a lot of family connection there which is really important to me. I’ve just always held myself to like a high expectation and I want to do the best that I can possibly do.”
After joining, Bowlin says she had to quickly prioritize hours of her days to meet the extensive time, badge, leadership, and project requirements needed to climb the ranks and earn Eagle Scout. But along the way, she says she made sure to enjoy it; Such as the time she went camping in freezing temperatures.
“It’s not necessarily something I want to do again, but it was an experience I can say I had,” said Bowlin.
Bowlin says it’s in those moments taking it in that impacted her the most.
“Scouting has genuinely made me a better person and changed my life in a way that I wasn’t expecting when I joined,” said Bowlin. “I feel like a lot of things that you aren’t expecting to do that, do that to you. It’s always important to go outside your comfort zone because you don’t know what’s going to happen with it. It could be something that you absolutely love and that’s kind of what happened here.”
Bowlin hopes more girls now take the opportunity to achieve the rank.
“It kind of made me rethink other things that I told myself I didn’t enjoy and it made me more confident in myself and just more willing to try new things,” said Bowlin.
Nationally, there are over 33,000 females who have joined Scouts BSA, with 871 of them registered in Michigan.
“Earning the rank of Eagle Scout takes hard work and perseverance, and we are honored to recognize these individuals for this significant accomplishment,” said Donald Shepard, Scout Executive/CEO of the Michigan Crossroads Council, in a statement. “Along the journey to Eagle Scout, young people gain new skills, learn to overcome obstacles and demonstrate leadership among their peers and in their communities. These benefits are invaluable for everyone, and we are thrilled that they are now available to even more youth.”
Scouts BSA is hosting a virtual ceremony Sunday at 8 p.m. to honor the inaurgural class. To learn how to watch, click here.