As of February 2019, the program many knew as Boy Scouts of America officially became Scouts BSA, and opened to boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 17.
Now, just two years later, an inaugural class of 934 girls have become the first to earn the coveted rank of Eagle at a “Be the Change” ceremony held in February, with more following since. According to Laura Enge, district director of the Greater St. Louis Area Council, 13 of those Scouts were from the St. Louis area.
Rachel Locke and Lily Duvenick are among the 8% of Scouts on average who achieve Eagle. Both are members of Scouts BSA Troop 911, chartered by the Lions Club of Harvester in St. Charles. Their first patrol was aptly named “Trailblazers.”
“The Eagle Scout Award is the top achievement,” Enge said. “It’s also the most well known achievement for youth in the Scouting program. People who aren’t familiar with Scouting and how it works are still generally familiar with Eagle Scout.”
Lily and Rachel grew up with Scouting as a family tradition. The scoutmaster of their unit, Stacey Locke, is Rachel’s mother and has her own history with Scouting, having previously served as the cubmaster and assistant scoutmaster for her older son’s group. Stacey’s grandfather, father and brother also attained the rank of Eagle.
“Then, I married a man who was also an Eagle Scout, and his father is an Eagle Scout,” Stacey said. “So, then, our son became an Eagle in 2012. So, Rachel is joining the family tradition.”
Her brother’s involvement is what inspired Rachel to join Scouts BSA.
“Growing up seeing him go through the Boy Scout Organization I always wanted to be just like him,” Rachel said. “When the opportunity arose, I quickly signed up and got started. I could finally be and do what my brother did and I was able to inspire more young women to do the same.”
Lily’s interest in Scouting also began early. Both her father and older brother have attained the Eagle Scout rank.
“My brothers and my dad have always been involved in Scouting,” Lily said. “The Boy Scout troops did festival fundraisers in St. Charles with Festival of the Little Hills and events like that. I always volunteered as a sibling.”
Frequently, Rachel was also a sibling volunteer.
“We’ve known each other since the boys were in first grade, years and years ago. So the girls were the tag-along little sisters, doing anything they could,” Stacey explained. That included jumping into Scouts BSA with Stacey as their leader.
Scouts can register as early as age 10 or 11 depending on previous qualifications and they have until their 18th birthday to earn the Eagle Scout rank before they age out of the program.
“Sometimes you have a go-getter that might get Eagle by 14, but a lot of Scouts get it at 16 or 17,” Stacey said.
With the admission of girls to its ranks, Scouts BSA also announced that those joining at age 16 and older would be given an extension so to earn the Eagle rank.
“If you joined and you had never been in a Boy Scout troop or a Scouts BSA troop, they would give you a grand total of 24 months to finish your Eagle,” Stacey said. But she added, “That is way less time than a traditional scout.”
All other Eagle rank requirements remained, including earning a total of 21 merit badges, 13 of which are specific merit badges in areas like first aid, environmental science, cooking, personal fitness, communication and more. Some badges also require feats of athleticism, like swimming, hiking or cycling. In order to qualify, Scouts are also required to have multiple leadership roles.
Rachel is a member of the Order of The Arrow, the national camping honor society of Scouts BSA. She has also attended multiple troop and district events that have added to her camping and leadership repertoire.
In summer 2019, Lily headed to Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico to hike across the mountains. Additionally, she has honed her leadership skills by staffing various small camps over the years, including her own Camporee in February 2020. This year, she will staff a summer camp at Famous Eagle as an adult.
“To earn Eagle, you have to learn about personal finances, personal fitness and you have to do a few things that are a little more athletic like swimming and hiking,” Enge said. “The kids that are Eagles, they’re really well-rounded, and hopefully they are much better prepared for life having done these merit badges and explored these topics and interests.
“The fact that these two young women have done it in two years time is actually all the more impressive. You have to be very active and very dedicated.”
The last requirement before earning Eagle is to complete a final project out in the community that they organize and fund through contributions from individuals and local businesses.
Both girls started planning their projects last year, which included getting them approved by the St. Louis Area Council. Rachel’s project involved creating a sharing shed at her alma mater, Progress South Elementary, that students could use as they needed throughout the years. The project took over 40 hours of labor.
“I was inspired to create the sharing shed because I love to help in my local community,” Rachel said. “I have donated to little libraries and food pantries in the past and wanted to create something similar for my elementary school.”
For her project, Lily built a little library and bench at Sts. Joachim and Ann Care Service in St. Peters, where she had previously completed service hours.
“I always had the idea of doing one of those free libraries because I always saw them and thought they were super cool,” Lily said. “We built it in my garage back in January, and painted it and stained it. I went to Dollar Tree and got a bunch of books and loaded it up, and it’s out there.”
According to Enge, these final Eagle Scout projects not only serve to prove a Scout’s skills, but also literally help build a better community.
“For those of us who live in these communities, it’s so impactful because they’re improving and beautifying out churches, our parks, our common spaces,” Enge said.
Lily said the stress of the work was worth the reward.
“I didn’t want to look back later and be like, ‘Wow, I was one of the first girls who could have gotten Eagle and I didn’t,’” she explained.
Rachel said she hopes their accomplishments inspire other future Eagle Scouts.
“I feel honored to be one of the first girls to obtain the Eagle Scout rank,” Rachel said. “It feels empowering to be part of such an influential generation. To be able to be one of the first women, I can now inspire others that both women and men alike are equal in ability and women can do the same activities.”