If you’re looking for pushback to Boy Scout’s decision to expand membership to all genders, look no further than social media. Poly Troop 55's first female Eagle Scout, Madison Jaffrey (Flintridge Prep '21), shared that comments flooded the organization’s Instagram when a photo was posted of a female scout. She says her experience in the organization has helped positively shift perspectives.
“Some boys shared ‘When I first met you, I was kind of hesitant, but by the end of the week, I was really glad that girls are in scouting. You totally changed my mind!’” said Madison.
In 2017, it was announced that youth of all genders would be allowed to join Boy Scouts. Poly founded BSA Troop 55 in 2019 and welcomed Madison with its first class of Scouts. Poly currently accepts scouts from the greater Pasadena community to its organization led by Troop Committee Chair and Poly’s Director of Technology John Yen ’89.
Madison said when the news came out that girls could join Boy Scouts, she discussed the news with her family at the dinner table. Her family was surprised at first as she hasn’t always been an outdoors person. She eventually became the troop’s first female Eagle Scout, the highest honor of scouting, meaning she has earned a minimum of 21 merit badges and has demonstrated Scout Spirit and leadership within her troop.
"Being the first was never what mattered. It was about proving we could be as much of an Eagle Scout as any other gendered person could be,” said Madison. "I ended up being first because I was so enthralled in the program, and I went really fast.”
She shares that her most memorable merit badge was genealogy, when she tracked her family’s history and tree in her first month of scouting. For her Eagle Scout project, she built five raised planter beds during the height of the pandemic for an organization that works with foster children, providing green space for the group. Using 3D imaging and woodworking skills, she relied on support from her community for the project to come together.
“I’ve known her since she started scouting,” said John Yen. “She’s a leader, and her energy is contagious for other young girls coming up in scouting.”
During the pandemic, Troop 55’s numbers have grown from 19 members to 27, signaling a growing interest in scouting and perhaps less pushback for girls looking to join. Troop 55 is looking forward to hosting more in-person events on Poly’s campus and in the great outdoors.
“Whether the first or 100th Eagle Scout, I’ve really loved my time in scouting,” said Madison.