(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — Olivia Foli, 14, grew up wanting to be in the Boy Scouts like her older brother.
Now she’s going to be able to follow in his footsteps.
Friday marked a milestone in the more than 100-year history of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA): the organization now accepts girls into all of its scouting programs.
Previously, girls were invited to join their male counterparts in four of the BSA’s five scouting programs: Cub Scouting, Venturing, Sea Scouting and Exploring.
With the introduction of girls into the Scouts BSA program, girls now have access to every scouting program open to boys. Scouts BSA is geared toward kids between 11 and 17 years old and gives them the opportunity to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
The exact number of girls and girls-only troops that were launched within the BSA has not yet been calculated, but a spokesperson for the BSA said that the organization expects to initially welcome a couple of thousand girls. All troops will still be single gender and Scouts BSA is not co-ed, the organization said.
Olivia Foli said that after years of watching her brother, Addison, go off on his monthly scout camping trips, she felt left out.
“I kind of got jealous of him being able to do that every month,” she told ABC News.
Her mother, Kim Foli, is going to be the scoutmaster for the new all-girls troop forming in their community of Gainesville, Florida.
“We will look like and operate like all the other scout troops in Gainsville, but we will be operating on our own — just girls,” Kim Foli told ABC News.
She said that she’s heard a lot of “confusion” and “a lot of people have been concerned” about the move to allow girls into scouting, but in her view, it’s just a move to give girls the same opportunities that many boys have had for years. Her son achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, she said.
“We won’t be camping together,” Kim Foli said of the girls and boys in the BSA. “We won’t be infiltrating boy troops or taking over boy space.”
“Boys still do have their own thing,” she said. “This is just opening up the gates to allow for a new challenge for girls that want it.”
Michael Surbaugh, the BSA’s Chief Scout Executive, said in a statement that he “could not be more excited for what this means.”
“Through Scouts BSA, more young people than ever before – young women and men – will get to experience the benefits of camaraderie, confidence, resilience, trustworthiness, courage and kindness through a time-tested program that has been proven to build character and leadership,” Surbaugh said in the statement.
For her part, Olivia has also been a member of the Girl Scouts, which is a completely separate organization, since she was in Daisies, which is their youngest order.
She’s still a part of the Girl Scouts, and will remain one even as she joins the Boy Scouts of America, noting that “they’re so different.”
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