Two girls in Wylie are the first to earn Eagle Scout honors through the Boy Scouts of America.
Gracie Roper, 18, and Brei Hall, 14, are two members of an all-girls Boy Scout troop, Troop 1869, with a total of seven members. Both girls took different paths into Scouting, but they have joined prestigious company — around 2.5% of Eagle Scouts are women — by earning the highest possible honor.
Gracie said she first got into Scouting when she joined a Crew in 2017 never thinking about becoming an Eagle Scout. Crew members differ from traditional Scouts because they focus more on high adventure elements compared to progressing through merit badges.
“I really just wanted to have some fun with my friends,” Gracie said. “In 2020, we were like, ‘we should make our own troop so that way we could earn our Eagles.’ We dissolved the Crew into a troop and now we have girls earning Eagles.”
Brei first got into Scouting when she joined the newly formed Troop 1869 with Scoutmaster Ben Roper in 2020.
The pathway for Gracie, Brei and other girls hoping to become involved with Boy Scouts opened in 2017, when the national organization allowed women to join its ranks.
Gracie said she still has to correct people who assume she is a Girl Scout when she tells them she is in Scouting.
“I tell them that it’s not Girl Scouts, I’m actually working toward my Eagle,” Gracie said.
Brei said Girl Scouts is fun, but being a Boy Scout opens opportunities for more adventurous activities.
“It is so much more fun to talk about it, explain what you do and explain all the cool opportunities you get to have,” Brei said.
Additionally, she added that there are times some of the boys underestimate the capabilities of the girls at a campsite.
“You turn around and show them that you can do just as many cool, sportsy and adventurous things,” Brei said.
Gracie added that girls tend to be the best at shooting in archery or tying knots.
“We’ve won a few competitions against the boys,” Gracie said. “It’s pretty fun.”
For their projects, Gracie hosted a Pinewood Derby at the Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas while Brei helped construct a bridge at the disc golf course at Oncor Park.
Gracie said her project took premade cars for children to race, but there was also a component of teaching patients to make their own vehicles for the race that is a staple of Scouting. It was important to show them something they could do, she added.
“For some of the kids that could not build their own cars, we had extras so that they could still feel included,” Gracie said. “The point of it was to show them things they can do because a lot of kids at Scottish Rite are kind of limited physically. It was a creative outlet for some of them and a way to take a break from their day.”
Brei said the project had a personal connection for her because she has played disc golf at Oncor Park a few times, noting a potential safety hazard for errant discs.
“I noticed that when you throw it and it gets lost in the woods, there’s poison ivy there and it can be very difficult to go and retrieve your frisbee,” Brei said. “We put together a bridge that’s easy and accessible to walk across and you don’t have to worry about tripping and getting hurt. It also adds a really nice touch to the park.”
She added that the project took her a few months to complete, including gathering building materials and organizing a schedule. Gracie said the hardest part for her was organizing the project after she found the idea online.
“I contacted the development officer of Scottish Rite Hospital and she thought it was a great idea,” Gracie said. “We worked together for a couple of months and found the best way to make the cars. She also took me in and showed me the best spot to host it.”
On the day of the event, it was a “huge success,” said Gracie.
The project also fits in with a core tenet of Scouting, which is making a positive impact on the community while having fun along the way.
“Scouting is a fun activity; something that you can work for and that means so much at the end,” Brei said. “It can mean a lot to somebody or the community, and it instills a lot of traits you can use throughout your life.”
Gracie, who appeared on Good Morning Texas April 28, said that she and other Scouts are trying to prepare people to be successful.
“Scouting is not just camping and survival skills, it’s also budgeting, life skills, physical fitness and your mental health,” Gracie said.
With two out of the seven Scouts earning Eagle Scout honors, the goal is to help the other girls in the troop reach their own Scouting goals, said Brei. Troop 1869 is also close-knit, often completing tasks and adventures together.
“One thing that I really enjoy is that we’re not just on a personal [quest], but that we’re all trying to earn it together,” Brei said. “Whenever we had our meetings, we went through all the different things together, got merit badges together and planned out camps together so we could progressively work toward this end goal.”
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