Carmen Mast defies the expectations of many with her involvement in Scouts BSA

Carmen Mast at a 9/11 Salute at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, paying tribute to those who had fallen.

Carmen Mast

Carmen Mast at a 9/11 Salute at the Gerald R. Ford Museum, paying tribute to those who had fallen.

When people hear of any organization affiliated with Scouts, many automatically picture either a group of boys in the woods or girls selling boxes of cookies. 

The Boy Scouts of America introduced an opportunity for anybody to join a community focused on making good future citizens when the organization went co-ed in 2019. 

And, in February 2019, freshman Carmen Mast became one of the founding members of her troop in one of the new additions to the Scouts. 

“The really amazing thing about scouts is that it’s multifaceted,” Carmen said. “There’s a little bit in it for everybody, and it helps people in different ways. With our troop, we do one community service project a month. And in December, we have a month of service where we do certain things, like last year we did a baking event for a nursing home, and we made dog toys for an animal shelter.”

It’s these acts of service that help Carmen and her troop become more in touch with their community and the ever-changing world around them. 

However, this branch of Scouts isn’t often discussed in the media because of the lack of expansion it’s given through the media and the lack of opportunity for new recruitment.

“I think that’s the problem right now,” Carmen said. “Numbers are dwindling due to recruitment because we’ve always done recruitment through the cub packs, but the packs aren’t doing too well right now. The troops that have been pulling from the same packs for decades don’t know how to get new members effectively.”

In a developing world, this type of issue is bound to happen every so often. Despite this, the leaders of the troops manage to unite everybody as phenomenally as ever. 

They’ve been so successful in leading this branch, in fact, that Carmen’s troop includes 27 active girls, whereas average female troops have around five. 

“It’s really interesting,” Carmen explained, “we started as a group of seven people, and the guys started at 50. Over the years, it’s shifted to where [the girls’ troop] is almost up to 30, and [the guys’ troop] is down to around 40. It’s really cool to see because you get to watch a lot of families join and you get to see that bonding of people who wouldn’t normally interact.” 

There are incredible things to watch in these communities, especially involving the relationship aspect in the groups. In a society where image is becoming more important than ever, the troops manage this in a way that prevents any issues from being a possibility.  

It’s not just the black and white of boys going into boy scouts and girls going into girl scouts anymore, and it hasn’t been that way for a while.

— Carmen Mast

“There’s no dating in Scouts, and it’s mostly teenagers,” Carmen said. “It’s very cool because you get to see those friendships evolve without the social pressure of, ‘oh, you hang out with this person, so you have to have a crush on them.’ You get to see that interaction between the guys and the girls, and they work together just fine.”

They all work together in a way that allows them to have a second family outside of their own. In Carmen’s case, she resides in the highest rank that so many Scouts aspire to reach: Eagle.

“I just got my Eagle, but usually you can get to Eagle around 18,” Carmen said. “That’s the goal, but about two percent of people make it to Eagle, and that’s the top. Typically, they’re the leaders of the group. They’re the ones who, with the younger Scouts running around—ten-year-olds to teenagers—the Eagles are the ones that they naturally look up to.”

There are countless benefits to becoming involved with Scouts in any way, shape, or form, but for Carmen, the best part is the camping. Though stereotypically associated with campfire songs and sleeping on the cold ground, this is a part of being a Scout that Carmen would never choose to give up. 

“It’s just a really cool experience of around ten to twelve people, and you really get to know the kids,” Carmen explained. “You’re at an old-fashioned summer camp for a week, no internet, no technology, and you don’t get a lot of those experiences anymore where you’re completely disconnected. Hanging out with other people and learning about things you’re all interested in, it’s so special.”

Carmen’s involvement in such an undervalued and underappreciated community is something she takes pride in, and it’s a beautiful experience all around.

“I just want people to know that [Scouts is] an opportunity that’s there,” Carmen said. “It’s not just the black and white of boys going into boy scouts and girls going into girl scouts anymore, and it hasn’t been that way for a while.”