Medford Township resident and Shawnee High School junior Beth Strachan has achieved the Boy Scouts’ highest rank in the state council, making her only the second female and the first in her troop to make Eagle Scout.
Beginning in 2019, females were officially allowed to join the troop level program of the Boy Scouts of America, and the latter changed its name to Scouts BSA. Its programs are divided by age and activity, starting with the Cub Scout Pack for boys and girls in kindergarten through fifth grade. Scouts BSA troops are open to young males and females in grades six through 12. Venturing Crews and Sea Scout Ships programs are coed and available for males and females ages 14 to 20.
The programs are a part of the Garden State Council that serves young men and women in every part of the county through local council service centers. The council serves youth and their families in the counties of Burlington, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem, plus the towns of Buena Vista and Buena Borough in Atlantic County.
On a local level, the Medford Lakes Lions Club “charters” or sponsors Troop 48, and has for years. In February 2019, the club agreed to charter a new girls’ troop, but those who sought to join wanted to be part of the existing Troop 48. Currently there are two separate troops called Troop 48 B (boys) and Troop 48 G (girls). Strachan was also among the first group of girls to be a founding member of the original charter and Troop 48- G, where Allison Eckel is Scoutmaster.
Like Strachan, every participant starts at the beginning and works her way through the ranks of Scout, TenderFoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle. Throughout the journey, the Scouts work toward earning merit badges, which involves one of the methods of Scouting based in learning and requires mentorship to be given as well as received. The core goal of the program is personal growth on an individual level.
Karen Strachan commends the program for allowing young Scouts like her daughter to overcome different obstacles through experience and breaking through personal milestones. She is proud of her daughter for allowing herself to take a leap of faith with the program, and in doing so, further making an impact on others, especially young females who want to join a program such as Scouts BSA.
Beth Strachan expressed her hopes for the next generation of young girls interested in the program and offered words of encouragement.
“It’s going to change the creation of stronger leaders, female leaders especially,” she said. “It’s going to change the way, or could, if there’s enough involvement. It’s going to change the way our whole society functions, with females holding positions of power because they’ve learned the skills through Scouts, which would continue to shape the history of our country well beyond the Scouts BSA program.”
Despite a busy athletic schedule, Strachan devotes her time to guiding younger Scouts so they can break barriers the way she did.
“I want to help other people get to places they didn’t think they could,” she said