Scouting Taught Me What It Means To Be a Leader and a Teacher

Story written and submitted by Eagle Scout Cecelia Pumpelly

How it all began

Since the time that my brothers were in Cub Scouts and later on, Boy Scouts, I always had a loose connection with Scouting. Whether it was participating in sibling campouts or Pinewood Derby races, I somehow always found a way to sneak into many of their activities, but it was always something that just the boys did. In 6th grade, I struggled to find a program for girls that had the same opportunities for fun outdoor adventures and skills advancement that my male friends were able to participate in.

Fortunately, Scouts BSA announced in 2018 that girls would be able to join Troops and attain the rank of Eagle Scout. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting my Scoutmaster, Kes Stadler, you would probably know how the rest of my story goes. One night while visiting my brother’s troop meeting, he came up to me and asked if I would like to join the new all-girls Troop starting at a nearby church – my face lit up and I haven’t looked back since. Shortly after I joined Troop 2019 chartered to St. Peter and St. Paul Episcopal Church in East Cobb.

This isn’t to say that the journey has been an easy one. Although I come from a family that values outdoor adventure, I wouldn’t have called us a “Scouting family” by any means; couple that with being the oldest girl in the troop at age sixteen, attaining the rank of Eagle became a mountain of a task to complete. My parents would ask week after week whether or not I was still ready to go for Eagle, and at times I began to question whether or not I could. However, I had fallen in love with the structure, friendships, and learning that came with the mad rush, and only with the continued guidance, support, and encouragement of the adults and other girls in the troop did I find myself truly becoming a part of the program. Even when COVID hit during my Senior Patrol Leader (SPL) term and we tried to shift towards both a youth-led system and a virtual setting, there was no greater team ready to take on the challenge.

Cecilia holding her 'Trained' Scouting badge.

Scouting has taught me what it truly means to be a leader and a teacher, and that being able to grow in both those areas is just as much about developing the people you’re leading as it is developing yourself. Most of all, Scouting has taught me that whatever the boys can do, the girls can do too!

Scouting’s Positive Changes

Being a part of Scouts has changed me as an individual and likely the trajectory of my life. I joined Venturing Crew 2992, chartered to the American Legion Post 29 in Marietta, to continue my journey in Scouting and build on my growth from Scouts BSA. On the surface, merit badges like Emergency Preparedness made me rethink how I wanted to change the world, shifting my focus from a medical degree to a position in public health. More than that, being forced out of my comfort zone through public speaking or presentations, being a role model for younger girls, and becoming comfortable with knowing that I will not always be the smartest or most experienced person in the room has given me the confidence to take more risks and aim higher.

Scouting has taught me what it truly means to be a leader and a teacher, and that being able to grow in both those areas is just as much about developing the people you’re leading as it is developing yourself. Most of all, Scouting has taught me that whatever the boys can do, the girls can do too!

Thank you to Cecelia for submitting your story.