Two senior girls earn Boy Scouts’ top honor

Dubbink, Richey are now Eagle Scouts

Senior+Lauren+Dubbink+is+one+of+two+female+members+of+the+Class+of+2021+who+has+been+named+an+Eagle+Scout.+

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Senior Lauren Dubbink is one of two female members of the Class of 2021 who has been named an Eagle Scout.

By By Ellie Moores, Cathedral High School - IN

For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America was a strictly male organization and was adamant about keeping girls out of the program. In fact, in 1991 BSA was sued by a family whose daughter was kicked out of the organization, but they lost the case and BSA remained an all-male entity.  

But in 2017, the first female Boy Scouts were permitted to enter this male dominated group, shattering the glass ceiling of the scouting world. 

When BSA first allowed girls, it announced that 2020 would be the year the inaugural class of female scouts would earn the highly regarded title of Eagle Scout. And now that the year is upon us, two seniors have achieved the Eagle Scout rank.

Lauren Dubbink and Rebecca Richey joined Boy Scouts in 2017 as soon as they heard females were permitted to become members. Dubbink knew immediately she wanted to take advantage of this opportunity. “I watched my brother grow up as part of BSA and he’s an Eagle Scout, and I got to see him develop all of these leadership skills and internship skills, and his internships went so well because he had been interviewing with Scout masters since he was 10 years old, and I wanted those skills. I thought it was unfair that he was getting this chance to develop them and I had no outlet,” Dubbink said.

While Dubbink was very sure of her decision to become a Scout, Richey was a bit hesitant. “When my mom told me about it, I was immediately like ‘no’ because I was so busy my sophomore year and was like ‘there is no way I can take anything else on.’ And also I went to the first meeting and it was all super young girls,” said Richey.

Member of a 50-member all-female troop

But after the meeting, Richey texted the members of her old Girl Scout troop from elementary school and was able to recruit them to become Boy Scouts. Now, Richey is a member of the largest all-female troop in the nation, with around 50 members. 

Being a female Boy Scout is not always fun and games; these trail blazing young women faced disapproval and judgment from some members of the scouting community. Dubbink recalled one instance where she was discriminated against because of her gender. 

Some of the older boys in her troop felt uncomfortable with girls joining and the boys’ moms decided to take matters into their own hands. After Dubbink was elected senior patrol leader, one of the highest ranking positions a Scout can attain within a troop, a mother of an older boy in the troop attempted to ban girls from holding leadership positions, but was unsuccessful. 

While some people were outspoken about their opposition to female scouts, others openly expressed their support for them. In the summer of 2019, Richey’s troop spent a week at the Ransburg Scout Reservation in Bloomington. They were the only female troop among a multitude of males. Richey joked that the ratio of boys to girls was “200 to 2.”

One night at camp the senior patrol leaders of each troop convened for a meeting. Richey, being her troop’s senior patrol leader, was there, and as the only girl in the room, her presence was met with some unsure stares. But Richey explained that the adults at the meeting were thrilled about the female troop’s first year at Ransburg. “A lot of the parents came up to me and all were so excited and were asking me questions. Everyone was super intrigued and really supportive about it,” Richey said.

Excluding Dubbink’s negative encounter, Dubbink and Richey said they have felt supported and encouraged on their journeys to becoming Eagle Scouts. Both of them explained that they had a lot of people rooting for them and helping them along the way.

Richey has two brothers, both of whom are Eagle Scouts, and they bonded with their dad through Scouting. “It was always kind of like a bond my brothers and my dad had. Now I feel like it’s my mom’s chance,” Richey said when asked who were some of the individuals who have helped her through this process. Both Dubbink and Richey said that the support of their families has been integral to their success.

One of the last feats a scout must complete before achieving the highest honor is their Eagle Scout project, which is designed to serve a scout’s community. Extensive planning, significant fundraising and hands-on work are important to the success of an Eagle Scout project. Both Dubbink and Richey spent months planning their projects and numerous days completing them.

Project benefits St. Louis de Monfort

For Dubbink’s project, she reached out to her alma mater, St. Louis de Montfort. “There’s a little grotto in the parking lot that has a pergola, a bench, a little koi pond and some trees, and it’s dedicated to all of the unborn babies in our parish. It was originally an Eagle Scout project in 2007, and it was a mess. The pergola was about to fall over. There was a leak in the pond and all of the trees were overgrown.”

So Dubbink decided that for her project, she wanted to fix up the grotto and restore it to its once beautiful state. But this was no easy task. To start, Dubbink used a jackhammer to break down the cement that kept the pergola in place. Then she completely rebuilt the pergola and reset it in cement into the ground. In addition, she lined the pond and built barriers around the memorial bricks to keep mulch from covering the names of the families and children.

Richey’s project also involved construction. For the last two years, Richey has been a member of the Salvation Army board. She often participates in meetings and completes service projects at the Fountain Square Community Center. So when it came time for her Eagle project, Richey knew she wanted to continue her service at this facility. 

“There was a green space on the left side of their building. There wasn’t anything there and it was very overgrown,” she said. Richey transformed this area into a functional outdoor space that can be used for a multitude of events. Richey built a stage so the community center can host outdoor performances as well to provide a place for picnic tables. She also constructed a fence to serve as a barrier between the green space and an alley. 

Now at the end of their scouting journeys, Dubbink and Richey still must complete a board of review before they can officially become Eagle Scouts. Both plan to do so in the coming months and become among the first females to hold the title of Eagle Scout. Only about 4% of scouts ever achieve this, so becoming an Eagle Scout is a feat within itself, and being some of the first women to accomplish this makes their triumph all the more impressive.

These young women prove once again that gender will not stand in the way of a goal when one is determined and willing to work to achieve success.

This story was originally published on The Megaphone on February 17, 2021.