Avery Emerson’s father, brother and uncle were Eagle Scouts.
So when the Boy Scouts of America opened its doors to girls, Avery signed up the first day. “I was waiting to file the papers.” She recently became the first girl from Bainbridge Island to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
Avery was in Girl Scouts when she was younger, but said they were mostly into arts and crafts. She always enjoyed the outdoor events better than she was able to continue with her brother. “I grew up in a Scout family. This strongly influenced me to want to join. She also heard his stories of backpacking, climbing and rafting. “I’m very natural.”
In college, she joined Venturing, a co-ed BSA program, but that didn’t allow them to move on to Eagle. So she and about four other girls joined the Boy Scouts and started their own troop. They share gear with a local boy troupe, but, “We’re mostly separated; do our own business.
Avery said she doesn’t experience the same gender discrimination she’s heard about in other parts of the country. “Within our own troop, we had equal chances.” Even in the big camps in the summer, she had no problems. “It’s very weird, especially the first year, to camp with so many boys.” She said she had heard locally that some boys were leaving Boy Scouts while girls were allowed in. She also said that some local people were very clear that they didn’t want the girls to join them.
Avery, a senior at Bainbridge High School, said girls who love the outdoors should join BSA. “You get a lot of adventures that you wouldn’t normally get to do.” She said her favorite experience was a week-long backpacking trip to New Mexico. “I love being in nature. It’s very refreshing for me. They climbed Mount Baldy, “which was really difficult, but very rewarding. The view was amazing.
She said they had done over 50 miles and it wasn’t always fun. “We bumped into each other” and we thought, “I can’t take another step”, in addition to being caught in the middle of thunderstorms. But towards the end they hiked a peak and looked up Mount Baldy in the distance and realized how far they had come. “Going there, you don’t think you can do it.”
Avery, who participates in Running Start online with the Olympic College, said many people have misconceptions about scouting. She did it even though she was always so close to it. She said some troops can be strict and regimental, but hers was laid back. She said her leaders will also do whatever is necessary to help you achieve your goals. “There are so many opportunities.”
Avery said the hardest thing about being a Boy Scout was reaching Eagle. “There’s a reason it’s so hard to get Eagle,” she said, adding that there were a lot of skills required. “It takes a lot of dedication. It is the most difficult, but the most rewarding.
She was the only one of the five founding members of the troop to earn Scout’s highest honor. She said it was because they were all involved in sports, so they missed a number of necessary weekend outings. COVID-19 restrictions also limited some of their participation. They just “aged” before they could do anything.
As for her Eagle Scout project, she wanted to do something for Helpline House, where she had volunteered for years. Her mother was a food bank manager during the pandemic, and they prepared grocery bags of food for people in need to pick up each week. Avery also helped run the pantry and project a backpack for the kids.
Next year, she will go to the University of Washington, majoring in environmental studies. His project was therefore linked to that.
Food that Helpline House cannot donate for whatever reason is donated to a local farmer who uses it to feed his animals and as fertilizer. She said food waste is a big problem at all food banks, so she wanted to help. So, with the help of friends and fellow Scouts, she built a food shelter to protect that food from the elements.
“I could continue to help them even if I wasn’t there personally in the future,” she said.
Other Eagle Scouts
Almost as historic as his accomplishment, all Scouts in the BHS Class of 2022 will earn their Eagle Scout Ranking upon graduation in June.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is extremely rare. Each year, less than 7% of all Scouts achieve that rank, says Dan Miller of the Seattle Boy Scouts of America in an email.
Locals who have done so include:
Girls’ Troupe 1804 Hall of the American Legion
• Avery Emerson: Construction of a storage system for a food project with surplus vegetables at Helpline House.
1564 Troop Hall of the American Legion
• Eli Hutt: built a trail with stairs and handrails, removed ivy and removed litter at St. Cecelia Parish.
Troop 1496 BI Masonic Center
• Ryan Alsberg: Created bike racks at Grace Church.
• Brenden Hungerford: Built a swing porch chair for the historic Cave Park building.
• AJ Jensen Lopez: Built a picnic table at Bainbridge High School.
• Mace Korytko: Stairs constructed and meditation path restored at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church.
• Justin Martin: Creation of an accessible picnic table for Stevens House.
• Max Strom: Constructed six cedar benches at Moritani Preserve.
• Dylan Tyler: fabricated a wooden structure for Bainbridge Youth Services’ annual “Hope Glows” event.
• Levi Field-Bennett (Eagle Harbor High): construction of a small food bank kiosk at Safeway.
Troupe 1565 Lutheran Church of Bethany
• Derek Church and James Dagal: Built an information booth, maintained trails and removed invasive species at Cougar Creek Preserve.
• Ben Meier: Newly renovated and landscaped Fort Ward Community Hall.
• Josh Miller: construction of a bathroom shelter in the new Agate Pass reserve.
• Mitchell Teresi: Installation of new fence, posts and gate at Bainbridge Island Saddle Club.
• Lucien Willey: Construction of an information kiosk, elimination of invasive species at the Quitslund family farm.
• Evan Yeung: Built an information booth at Sakai Park.
Miller says Scouts have taken different paths to achieve Eagle rank.
For example, the 2009-10 kindergarten class at The Island School had only nine boys, three of whom joined Cubs in different packs. All three – Alsberg, Field-Bennett and Miller – became Eagle Scouts, as did Korytko, who came to The Island School in 2012. Three Scouts – Miller, Teresi and Yeung – started in Cub Scout Pack 4496, chartered by Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church, when they were 6 years old. They have remained together in the same Scout units ever since.
There are four BSA Scout Troops on BI and several Cub Scout packs, as well as opportunities for Adventurers and Sea Scouts, all under the Scouting umbrella. Cub Scouting is for girls and boys in kindergarten through grade five, or ages 5 through 10. Children over the age of 10 or who have completed fifth grade are eligible to join BSA.
To learn more, visit seattlebsa.org.