Shayla Barratt plans to be one of the first girls in the Noblesville, Ind., area to achieve Eagle Scout rank with the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
If all goes as planned, the high school sophomore will be awarded the BSA’s highest designation sometime this fall.
As a Girl Scout in elementary school, Barratt longed to camp and walk trails. But crafts, cooking and sewing were the primary activities offered at the time. Outdoor adventures were reserved for the BSA.
To make it worse, Girl Scout leaders quit frequently and the girls were forced to start over with someone new each year. And sometimes leaders were hard to recruit.
"Nobody stepped forward to run a troop in middle school," the now 15-year-old said.
She decided to quit after fifth-grade.
In 2019, the BSA began allowing girls to join. Barratt and four other area girls joined a local troop in March 2019. Currently, there are about 15 boys and 15 girls in the BSA troop.
Working your way to Eagle Scout is a tough climb. BSA members must learn certain skills and show they are proficient at them to earn a rank. The first four ranks are Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class and First Class. Each involves studying topics such as first aid, plant identification, knots, outdoor safety, physical fitness and weather. The next two ranks are Star and Life, which focus on leadership. Scouts must spend a minimum of six months in each of these to become a good leader.
Besides completing requirements for rank advancement, Scouts must earn merit badges. Each boy or girl must accumulate a minimum of 21 merit badges to become an Eagle Scout. Barratt has earned 39 merit badges and expects to finalize another soon.
Scouts must also complete a service project for a beneficiary such as their community or a non-profit to be an Eagle Scout. Barratt chose Fueled for School because it was founded in Noblesville by one of her elementary school teachers. The organization helps provide food for students in need.
"I have helped sort and pack food to be distributed to these students who receive food packages anonymously. There are about 300 kids who receive food on a weekly basis," she said.
Barratt’s project includes giving water bottles to the students because drinking fountains at school were changed to water-bottle filling stations due to COVID-19. She intends to provide each child with a new water bottle, lunch box and three weeks-worth of snacks.
Totally Promotional donated 300 water bottles to help Barratt achieve her goal.
Barratt, who is considering a career in the medical field, is an ambitious soul. BSA has given her the chance to polish her leadership skills, she said. She currently is a Life Scout and Senior Patrol Leader, which puts her in charge of all the girls in her troop.
"The cool thing about Scouts is that everything is Scout led," Barratt explained. "We make our own decisions."
"Adults guide troop members and keep them safe, but it’s the Scouts that lead the group," she added.
Barratt’s family is no stranger to the Scouting world. Her brothers joined BSA as Cub Scouts. Her sister became a member of Cub Scouts in 2018 when elementary girls were first allowed to join. Her mother, Shannon Barratt, has been a Cub Scout leader and Committee Chair, and is the Advancement Coordinator for Barratt’s troop.
Barratt loves everything about her BSA experience.
"I really like that there is so much you can learn. My troop is very active," she said. "We camp once a month, even in the snow! We kayak, hike, do archery, shoot rifles, go caving. Scouting has made me more independent and I have learned many good skills."