When the Boy Scouts allowed girls to join the organization two years ago, Emma Duncan knew right away she didn’t just want to be a scout.
She wanted to be an Eagle Scout.
“Once we were sure, yes this is going to be a thing and there’s going to be a troop near us, we started thinking about what would it look like to go about getting Eagle? Time limits and was that something I was interested in? It totally was,” Duncan said.
The Eagle requirements take a minimum of two years to complete and have to be done before a scout turns 18. Since Duncan was 16 when she joined, she didn’t waste any time.
All Eagle Scouts have to earn 21 merit badges, serve in a leadership role and complete a community service project. Duncan did it all in just two years, along with at least 34 other girls in North Texas.
Duncan’s a part of Troop 890 based in North Texas. The troop held its Court of Honor ceremony Sunday, recognizing 10 young women who were among the first in history to receive the Eagle Scout rank.
Will Power is the scoutmaster for the girls Troop 890. He spoke at the ceremony.
“Through all of history, the eagle has been a symbol of man’s best and today the eagle is a symbol of scouting’s best,” Power said. “Will the candidates for the rank of Eagle please rise and present themselves here?”
The girls then recited the Eagle Scout’s charge, and were joined by their parents, who fastened the Eagle Scout pin to their uniform — establishing them as Eagle Scouts, now and forever.
“On behalf of this court of honor, and with the high hope that you will always represent the finest of character and citizenship, we welcome you into the brotherhood of the Eagle Scouts, and congratulate you, your parents and your scout leaders,” Power said. “Let’s do a big congratulations for everybody.”
Duncan said typically these court of honor ceremonies are done individually, but this was a special occasion.
“We wanted to do something as a group,” she said. “We went through the experience together, it just seems like we should end it together, too.”
Now that she’s officially an Eagle Scout, Duncan said she plans to use the leadership skills she’s developed to pursue a career in music education, as a choir director.
Madison Knefley is 14 years old, the youngest of the group to receive her Eagle rank. She plans to continue scouting through high school, and said she hopes to become Troop 890’s Senior Patrol Leader in the future.
“I’m excited to get to lead them either as SPL or just like in the troop, to help them have the same experience I did or similar experience,” Knefley said.
Kendall Simon, the former senior patrol leader of Troop 890, said she’s taking a gap year to figure out what she wants to do next.
In the meantime, she’s focused on her role in the Order of the Arrow (OA) — an honor society within Boy Scouts.
“There’s big festivals they do, but there’s a lot of controversy surrounding it with like racial issues, which I think I can say I’m very passionate about,” Simon said.
She’s one of the first women, and women of color, in the OA.
Simon hopes to use her voice to bring light to cultural appropriation, like OA members wearing Native American attire during ceremonies.
“It made me uncomfortable just to watch, so I think that’s something that we should overcome, find a new uniform,” she said. “It’s important to learn about the Native American culture, but I think we should do it in a more appropriate way, where it’s education and not so much cultural appropriation.”
Lane Duncan is Emma Duncan’s dad. As the former scoutmaster of the girls Troop 890, he’s watched his daughter and the other girls work tirelessly to complete their Eagle requirements.
“As a body, as a group, they have really celebrated each other’s successes and really worked to lift each other up,” Lane Duncan said. “That’s been really gratifying, really fun to see.”