Josephine Abbott was once on the outside looking in as part of a Vancouver family deeply involved in the Boy Scouts of America.
That all changed in 2019 when the organization opened its program to girls, allowing Josephine to follow in her father’s footsteps and work toward becoming an Eagle Scout.
Now 14, Josephine is the first female to earn the rank of Eagle Scout in Southwest Washington.
She received the award in a recent Court of Honor at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site along with seven young men: Aidan Bloom, Ryan Bloom, Zachary Bloom, Davin Carsten, Riley Caton, David McKellar and Douglas Wilson Jr.
Tracy Fortmann, superintendent of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, noted that only about 4 percent of Scouts reach Eagle.
“The Eagle Scout rank is the highest rank in Scouts and represents a long-term commitment that challenges the Scout physically, mentally and morally,” Fortmann said.
In order to earn the Eagle rank, Scouts must earn 21 merit badges, 13 of them skill-based, complete a community service project, be active for at least six months as a Life Scout, the previous rank in Scouting, and complete a board of review.
For the required community service project, Josephine built a buddy bench for her classmates at St Joseph Catholic School. She said she drew inspiration from previous experiences — she had to transfer schools after being bullied but has had a much better experience at her new one.
“I wanted to give back to my new school because they were such a big support when I transferred,” she said. “I didn’t want kids to feel left out and alone as I’d felt at my old school.”
Josephine’s mother, father and siblings all participate in Scouts. Her father, Steve Abbott, is an Eagle Scout as well as cubmaster and committee chair for Cub Scout Pack 370.
Her mother, Helene Abbott, is on the committee for Cub Scout Pack 370, Boy Scout Troop 479, and Boy Scout Troop 5479.
“I was always wanting to participate in the activities and meetings, but I was never able to because I was a girl and girls weren’t even allowed in Cub Scouts at the time,” Josephine said.
Josephine says when she learned that girls would be able to join Scouting, she and her family celebrated.
“I was shocked when I found out,” she said.
Helene Abbott said she had wanted to be an Eagle Scout when she was young, but was blocked by the rules at that time. Watching her daughter achieve it was a little bittersweet.
“It’s a life accomplishment, that she managed to do at 14,” she said.