The Boy Scouts is not just for boys anymore.
Starting Friday, it will be known as Scouts BSA as it welcomes girls into the organization.
Marina Mitchell from Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has been in Girl Scouts since she was in first grade, but in 2017, the Boy Scouts of America organization decided to allow girls into its program.
Mitchell says she jumped at the opportunity and is now part of the newly formed, all-girl Troop 291 in Ponte Vedra Beach.
“There’s shooting, which you don’t get to do in Girl Scouts. There’s hiking, too, which I do a lot,” said Mitchell.
Leaders within the organization say they’re already welcoming more than 100 girls into troops throughout North Florida.
“We’ve got volunteer leaders over the last 48 hours that are so excited to get their paperwork in and coming into the Scout Shop to get their uniforms and get this thing going,” said Patrick Linfors, the chief operating officer of the Boy Scouts of America North Florida Council.
Linfors said that while the curriculum remains the same, there are some minor differences, such as the logo on the shirt and the handbook, which features pictures that are gender-specific.
Girls will now also be able to become Eagle Scouts, the organization’s most highly coveted rank, which often leads to scholarships and academic achievements.
“Being one of the first girls in history to make Eagle will be highly rated and, again, a lot of fun,” said Mitchell.
A new troop just formed in Gainesville in the last 24 hours, and there is another new group in Interlachen.
Together, they’re part of 15 all-girl troops in North Florida that just made history.
"It makes me feel empowered, like I get to finally make a difference,” said Rose Gottschalk, a member of Troop 291 in Ponte Vedra Beach.
The Girl Scouts said in May they had about 1.76 million girls and more than 780,000 adult members, down from just over 2 million youth members and about 800,000 adult members in 2014.
The Boy Scouts of America’s flagship program was known simply as the Boy Scouts for 108 years before the change to Scouts BSA.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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