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Iowa girls welcomed to Boy Scouts camp in Central City as participants for first time

Sisters of scouts no longer on the sidelines at Camp Wakonda

Amber Rose, 17, from Troop 270 in Coralville, pulls arrows from her target Friday after shooting on the archery range at Camp Wakonda/Camp Waubeek near Central City. Rose is among the first girls to stay at the Boy Scout camp after the Hawkeye Area Council of Scouts BSA opened membership to girls. Rose said she’d wanted to be in Boy Scouts since she was 5. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Amber Rose, 17, from Troop 270 in Coralville, pulls arrows from her target Friday after shooting on the archery range at Camp Wakonda/Camp Waubeek near Central City. Rose is among the first girls to stay at the Boy Scout camp after the Hawkeye Area Council of Scouts BSA opened membership to girls. Rose said she’d wanted to be in Boy Scouts since she was 5. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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CENTRAL CITY — Amber Rose grew up watching her older brothers go to Boy Scout camps, wishing she could do the same activities as them — shooting, kayaking and archery.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Boy Scout, or Scout BSA, ever since I was 5 years old,” said Rose, of Coralville.

Twelve years after that first dream, Rose, now 17, walked around Camp Wakonda/Camp Waubeek this week, not as a family member of a scout but as a scout herself.

She is part of the first class of girls to participate in the Scouts BSA camp in Eastern Iowa.

“I was elated when I was able to come and do the things they talked so highly about for so long,” Rose said. “Once I got the opportunity, I knew nothing was going to stop me, and I went for it.”

Boy Scouts of America, which now goes by Scouts BSA, recently opened its membership to girls. Rose joined in February, the earliest she was allowed to join the Hawkeye Area Council of Scouts BSA.

Most of Rose’s scoutmates are at least 2 years younger than her, but she’s embracing the chance to finally go to camp, even if it’s later than she would have liked.

Kevy Huynh, 14, of Coralville, also wanted to join the scouts after hearing her younger brother talk about his “camping trips, scout camps, all this stuff.”

Like Rose, Huynh saw the fun her brother was having at family night.

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“He would walk me around the campgrounds, and he would tell me all these stories that happened at camp,” Huynh said. “I’m just walking with him, thinking, ‘Oh, it would be nice if I could experience this, too.’ ”

Michelle Simoneau, a scoutmaster, first got involved in scouting in 2006 when her son was a Boy Scout. Last week, she saw her daughter Morgan, 17, take part in a Scouts BSA camp.

“She did one year of Girl Scouts, and it just wasn’t as ‘outdoorsy’ as she wanted,” Simoneau said. “I’m absolutely thrilled she gets to do (Scouts BSA camp). ... Her brother got to do it, and there’s always a competition there.”

Simoneau, 48, said her daughter participated when she was there for family days, but now she can earn merit badges.

Rose and other girls at the camp said the boys were at first a little quiet around them but warmed up quickly once activities started.

“At first, they kind of shied away from us just because it was a new experience for them,” Huynh said. “As the week went on, they got more comfortable and started coming up to us on their own.

“We haven’t really been treated like, ‘Oh, that’s a girl.’ They’ve just been like, ‘That’s another scout,’ ” Rose said.

Theodore Collins, a former Boy Scout and current assistant scoutmaster, welcomes the addition.

“(The girls) bring a lot more passion than some of the boys do,” Collins said. “I love seeing that they are able to go through the ranks and enjoy the program like their brothers are able to.”

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Rose doesn’t have much time to dwell on being in this first wave of girls. Last week, she participated in the National Youth Leadership Training camp, one of the top leadership training opportunities with Scouts BSA. Her goal moving forward? Becoming an Eagle Scout.

“I really have to work fast because I only have a two-year block to get it all done,” Rose said. “I’m up for the challenge, and I’m excited to do it. ... Both of my brothers did it, and I want to be able to say, ‘I did it, too.’ ”

Now her brothers, 20 and 23, are stuck watching their younger sister go to camp while they have to stay home.

“My dad has been texting them updates throughout the week,” Rose said. “They’re so happy that I’ve been having a good time and been able to do this stuff.”

l Comments: john.steppe@thegazette.com

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