Boy Scouts of America Troop 212 in Poplar hit a milestone Dec. 17.
Maura Lubbers, 17, earned her Eagle Scout rank, the first female scout to do so. Troop member Claire Jarman is poised to join her next month, and fellow scout Elle Thom has the materials ready for her Eagle Scout project this spring.
“I must say I’ve seen myself grow in just, like, personal strength and confidence,” Lubbers said. “I’ve seen it in these two, I’ve seen it in the other girls, I’ve seen it in just kids that are in scouts in general. I feel so much more confident, and I feel like I can take on challenges and step outside my comfort zone, which is something I would not have said two years ago.”
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It’s been a whirlwind journey for the trio of teens, who joined Poplar’s new Scout BSA troop in February 2019 as soon as the organization opened its doors to female scouts.
“It feels like we jumped in and just started running right away,” Thom said.
The three had a lot of ground to cover if they wanted to earn the highest rank, Eagle. The process involves earning 21 badges, advancing seven ranks and completing an Eagle project before the scout turns 18.
Some badges take weeks to complete; scouts are required to stay at certain ranks for a set number of months before advancing. It takes a minimum of 20 months to earn an Eagle badge. Lubbers, who turns 18 years old next month, did it in 22 months.
“The troop is very proud of Maura for all she has accomplished,” said Scoutmaster Hollie Jarman.
To meet their mark, the girls met weekly and held two events a month. When COVID-19 derailed traditional scout camping options, leaders set up a local camp in Lake Nebagamon. Counselors flocked in to offer dozens of merit badge opportunities.
All three girls focused their Eagle Scout projects on Amnicon Falls State Park. Lubbers built an information kiosk that will include an aluminum park sign, which has been ordered. She raised $1,500 for the project and completed it in two months.
She wasn’t a subject matter expert. In fifth-grade, her popsicle stick bridge earned a D- because it didn’t hold anything.
“Having my project be building something was very intimidating, but with the right guidance I was able to do it and lead other people through it,” Lubbers said. “And by the end of it I was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I did this.’”
Claire Jarman has set up an orienteering course at the park. People can use either GPS or a map and compass to find the posts she installed, like a scavenger hunt.
Thom is working on a wooden fence to keep visitors safe on an eroded section of the island.
The scouting experience hasn’t been all work. The three teens have embraced the activities and opportunities, from winter camping to cooking.
“The most fun I’ve had is every, every single camping overnight,” Claire Jarman said.
For Thom and Lubbers, the hiking badge holds special meaning. They chose the most difficult path, encompassing 70 miles — a 5-mile hike in Pattison Park; 10-mile hikes on the North Country Trail, in Duluth and at Jay Cooke State Park; a 15-mile hike on the Superior Hiking Trail outside Two Harbors; and a 20-mile hike from Brule to Solon Springs on the North Country Trail.
The girls started in November 2019 and finished in July 2020.
“That is definitely my favorite merit badge. And that’s one of the things that I’m going to remember forever, because we had a good time," Lubbers said.
With limited time to reach Eagle Scout, the teens pushed themselves to stay on task. Lubbers encouraged younger scouts, including the two seventh-graders in her troop, to make requirements a priority, but to set aside time for fun.
“You also need to prioritize time where you just don’t do anything, where you just go to stay overnight and have fun and don’t worry about getting something signed off or anything like that,” Lubbers said. “While I did enjoy it, I feel like I didn’t have a ton of breathing time. That’s something that I wish I would have had.”
In the past 13 years, 33 members of Troop 212 have earned the rank of Eagle. Their projects are scattered throughout the Maple School District at ballfields, churches, town halls and parks. Both Lubbers and Claire Jarman will be among the scouting organization's inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts.
Their troop’s younger members are following suit.
Lily Schutte, a seventh-grader, became the first girl in troop 212 to earn the Cub Scouts’ highest rank, Arrow of Light.
Editor's note: Maura Lubbers is the daughter of Rick Lubbers, executive editor of Duluth Media Group, which includes the Telegram.