Women have a tremendous history in the Boy Scouts of America. Whether leading from the front or supporting the movement in less visible roles, the organization would not exist as we know it without the steadfast dedication of countless exceptional women.
Let’s take a look at five who made history and shook up Scouting, cultivating the minds of millions of children worldwide in the process.
1. LaVern Watts Parmley
As the fifth general president of the Primary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Parmley oversaw the Sunday school program for children younger than 12 years old. During her 23 year tenure (1951 – 1974), Parmley made a massive move for Scouting: the integration of the movement into Primary programs for boys eight to 11 years old. Parmley was also the first woman to receive the Silver Buffalo award.
2. Ann W. Nally
A celebrated author and influential leader in the Scouting movement, Nally was the first woman to serve on the Boy Scouts of America’s National Court of Honor. She was the main author of “History of Cub Scouting” and received the Silver Buffalo award alongside the likes of President Ronald Reagan. Many of her writings are on display at the New Jersey Scout Museum.
3. Eleanor Parsons Pratt
Pratt became the first woman professional Scouter when she landed the role of curator of museums for the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in 1965. Before taking on the role, she proved it’s never too late to follow your dreams when she began college at age 50.
4. Mary Wright
In 1974, Wright became the first National Explorer President, a youth position. The third National Explorer Presidents’ Congress elected her to this role as a voting youth member of the National Executive Board. Wright led the program to gain new speciality associations, like law enforcement, government, and medical exploring. Wright is also mentioned in Eagle Scout and United States President Gerald R. Ford’s remarks to participants in the National Explorer Presidents’ Congress in the South Lawn of the White House. After the speech, Wright presented President Ford with the Silver Buffalo award.
Few leaders have more vested interest in the success of youth in Scouting’s programs than moms of Scouts. Simply, there is no Scouting without the Scout mom. These women have transformed the movement, beginning as Cub Scout Den mothers in the 1930s and now serving in the top leadership roles in the Boy Scouts of America. From the mom who stays up late sewing patches on her son’s uniform, to the Venturing crew leader who accompanies her daughter to a High-Adventure base, to the Scout Executive who ensures her council operates smoothly, women are integral to the continued success of Scouting.
If you’re a Scouter, you know women who have shaped the Boy Scouts of America. Give them a shout out in the comments below as we recognize everyone who makes this organization great!