By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News
For Gabby Mayrend, becoming an Eagle Scout is a family tradition.
Her brother, Zachary, 17, is an Eagle Scout, as are her maternal grandfather and uncle. And her great grandfather was a scoutmaster who would have become an Eagle Scout had he not been called off to serve in World War II.
Of course, Eagle Scouting has traditionally been a guy thing.
Then in 2018 the Boy Scouts of America added girls to Cub scouting and indicated that girls could join the Boy Scout program in 2019.
“Instantly I knew I wanted to start a troop and work toward Eagle,” says Gabby. “I wanted to be in the first class. I’m really interested in history, and so getting to be part of history and getting to build onto history, is really cool.”
Some dreams—when combined with a whole lot of work—do come true.
Gabby became one of the first class of nearly 1000 girls across the country who joined the ranks of Eagle Scouts at an online ceremony Sunday.
Only six percent of scouts ever make it to Eagle, an accomplishment that requires at least 21 merit badges, a large service project, and a commitment to leadership, CBS anchor Norah O’Donnell said in a special segment of the CBS Evening News that aired Tuesday. The segment included a clip of Gabby, 15, sitting in her living room talking to O’Donnell via Zoom.
Gabby’s career in scouting actually began 10 years ago when her mother was her brother’s Cub Scout den leader.
“Gabby was what we call a tag-a-long,” recalls her mother, Tammy Mayrend. “She went to so many of our camping experiences, activities, and den meetings. She followed the boys every step of the way without receiving recognition. She would often say that she wanted to be a Boy Scout, but we didn’t think it would ever happen.”
Although Gabby had enjoyed being a Girl Scout, she said she loved the Boy Scouts’ focus on outdoor adventure.
So upon hearing the news, she immediately asked her mother to find or start a troop for her when the news hit that girls could join the Boy Scouts. So Mayrend stepped aside as the scoutmaster of her son’s troop and started a troop for her and other young women in the area.
The girls hit the ground running on February 1, 2019 and Gabby was very vocal about being one of the first girls to reach the level of Eagle Scout.
“One of the reasons it means a lot to me is because now we’ve proven that girls can do this,” says Gabby, 15. “It’s something we can work to achieve. Now all girls coming into scouting can say, `Hey, I’ve seen them do this.’ It’s something that will really encourage people in future generations to continue onto it.
Gabby knew that being part of the Inaugural Eagle Scout class would be a challenge when COVID hit—mostly because it would be difficult to accomplish a service project during the shutdown.
But she persevered. After several service projects didn’t work out due to the shutdown logistics, Gabby ultimately chose as her project refurbishing the firepits at Camp Faholo in Grass Lake. She completed the fundraising in the month of September and had the project completed by the end of October.
It was amazing to see her take on the leadership, guiding her volunteers and making her project happen, says her mother.
“I never doubted that she would become an Eagle Scout, but being part of the historic inaugural class was a truly amazing accomplishment,” says Mayrend. “I’m proud that she chose to follow in the footsteps of so many while blazing her own trail.”
Gabby has three more scouting goals: To hit all four High Adventure bases; to earn all 138 merit badges (she’s up to 42 so far) and to win a William T. Hornaday Award, another service conservation-based projects.
In the meantime, Gabby has become interested in aerospace and mechanical engineering thanks to working on her STEM badges. She’s enrolled in engineering classes at Huron, and thinks that may be where she may ends up career-wise.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Gabby also figures she’ll follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a scoutmaster one day.
“Scouting,” she says, “will always be an important part of my life.”