By Sally Krutzig, Associated Press
RIGBY, Idaho (AP) – When Alexis Sharp, then 14, attended Boy Scout Camp in Island Park in July 2019, it was the first year the girls could attend. Of the more than 400 people in attendance, around 12 of the Scouts were girls.
A Boy Scout leader announced that there will be a swim mile at the end of the week for anyone who wants to give it a go. Henry’s Lake was freezing cold. Those who would like to do so should practice every morning before that, the Post Register reported. Alexis heard someone say he didn’t think it was possible for girls to swim a mile.
Alexis turned to her mother. “Mom, do you think I can do this?” “
“Oh yeah,” replied Jenny Sharp, Alexis’ mother and Boy Scout Leader.
When the day finally came for the swim mile, two Boy Scouts and three adult Boy Scout leaders decided to give it a try. And Alexis too, of course. She dived into the water.
“I was like, ‘I know I can do this,’” Alexis said.
And she did. She received the Mile Swim Award and a badge recognizing her achievement.
“It was one of my favorite memories,” Alexis said.
But this victory was not the moment Jenny was most proud of her daughter. The moment that marked her was when Alexis demonstrated her characteristic altruism.
“As she passed (a boy), she noticed he was struggling. She slowed down and she talked to him the whole time, ”Jenny said.
With Alexis’ encouragement, they both crossed the finish line. However, everyone had started at different times to allow enough room for the swimmers. When the clocks were checked, Alexis had beaten every boy over 20 minutes and every adult man over 10 minutes.
On December 14, Alexis, now 15, became the Grand Teton Council’s first female Eagle Scout when she completed her review committee. A total of four girls from Idaho have now passed their Eagle Scout exam board. She is one of the few girls in the country to have achieved this honor.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is no easy task. This includes successfully completing a number of requirements including obtaining 21 merit badges (Alexis has 77), a leadership role for six months, completing an important service project in the community, and successful completion of a review committee. Only 6% of Scouts reach this rank.
“Alexis is a very motivated and motivated young woman. . This is something that a very few Scouts, men or women, have been able to do, ”said Tom Barry, representative of the Grand Teton Council charter organization.
She achieved this rank while maintaining a GPA of 3.9, taking two college courses in her second year and participating in her school’s swim team.
For her final project, Alexis built a mountain bike trail for the Rigby High School mountain bike team.
“I love mountain biking myself. It’s a very good stress reliever for me. And I was like, “How cool would it be to say that I built this mountain bike trail?” Because it’s something that I’m going to end up using. And I used it a ton, ”Alexis said.
So she got permission from the owner, enlisted the help of a local trail builder, scoured the area looking for a natural route in the land, and mapped it out. Then came manual labor. Alexis organized a team of 40 volunteers who helped clear the brush, prune the trees and then dig the trail.
Alexis has already received positive feedback about it after the Thunder Ridge High School mountain bike team used it for training.
Alexis’s brother, father and two uncles are all Eagle Scouts. She spent years learning Scouting skills alongside her younger brother. An “outdoor enthusiast” whose favorite activities are swimming, mountain biking, skiing and camping, she loved learning everything. She watched her younger brother earn badge after badge and eventually became an Eagle Scout at the age of 12. She, of course, didn’t win anything, despite learning the same skills.
“I always thought it was a little silly that the boys could do all the fun and outdoor things,” Alexis said. “When the nationals announced that the girls could do it now too, I jumped at the chance.”
Hearing the announcement that the girls could join the Boy Scouts of America from February 1, 2019, she quickly reached out to Grand Teton Council to join.
“I was told that I need to have at least three girls in the troupe to start it,” Alexis said.
Alexis went into recruiting mode. She did introductions to all of her friends (“You know all the really cool things all boys do? We can do this now!”) To start a troupe in February 2019.
The numbers for Troop 100 have fluctuated over time, but today there are four girls. Jenny was, “Said, not asked,” that she would be the troop scout leader.
But Jenny was happy to help. Alexis isn’t the first in the family to longingly watch her brother become an Eagle Scout. Jenny looked a lot like Alexis as a girl; “Whatever was outside was (her) passion.” She went hunting, fishing and camping. But at church she learned “household skills” like cleaning, cooking and sewing It wasn’t that Jenny thought these were bad skills, but she really wanted to learn how to make a campfire.
“Two of my brothers got their Eagle. And I was so jealous because when they got their Eagles, they got guns. When I got the Eagle equivalent for girls in our church, I got a cedar chest, ”Jenny said.
Jenny and Alexis love that Scouting has become a family-friendly activity.
It wasn’t always easy to be one of Grand Teton Council’s first female scouts, let alone the first female Eagle Scout. Alexis and Jenny have heard many negative comments. One of Jenny’s co-workers, who has been involved in Scouting her entire life, resigned when the news was announced that the girls could register. Others told Alexis that “it wasn’t right” for a girl to be an Eagle Scout. These comments did not come from the boys. Her fellow Scouts thought it was “super awesome” that she had her eagle. Alexis said the pushback came mostly from adults and girls her age. She believes these opponents grew up in homes where they were told what is and is not possible for girls to achieve.
Alexis is proud that no one can ever pretend girls aren’t strong enough to be Eagle Scouts again. She is living proof of that.
“It’s a great thing. Because now I’m going to be part of the story. And history cannot be rewritten. There will always be a recording somewhere, ”said Alexis.