Dayton girl to earn Eagle Scout, one year after girls admitted into Boy Scouts of America
With three brothers active in Boy Scouts of America, Suzanna Stankute grew up going to meetings. Still, she knew she would not have a chance to advance through the ranks or fully participate in the activities.
“I never got to go on the campouts or any of that fun stuff, but I was always in the background,” she recalled.
That all changed last year, when the BSA amended its rules to allow girls into the program. Suzanna jumped at the chance, earning Scout rank almost immediately.
“I already knew all of that stuff,” she explained. “I leaned the Scout Oath and Law when I was really young.”
Last week, she completed her project for her Eagle Scout. She and close to 50 volunteers cleared trails and painted fences at Dayton State Park on Sept. 19.
Suzanna said trails that were overgrown to the point of impassable were completely open by the end of the day – work rangers there said would have taken more than three months to complete without the volunteers.
“I was squealing when we were walking down the trail after it was all finished,” Suzanna said. “We were all so totally amazed to see everything we’d done.”
There was a time, however, Suzanna wasn’t sure that she’d make it this far. At first, she didn’t know of any other girls in BSA, so she joined as a Lone Scout.
As the name implies, there wasn’t any social interaction or motivation from peers. But in March, she met Troop #55, a girl troop out of Reno.
She clicked with them right away, and soon they were doing the things her brothers had always gotten to do.
On that first campout, the girls were setting up tents, building fires, learning first aide. Suzanna fit right in.
“It was super cool to see a ton of girls who were so prepared,” she said. “It’s a really fun group.”
Since then, the troop has grown from nine members to 23.
“We’ve all gotten really close,” Suzanna said. “When a new girl joins, we always help her out and help get her up to rank. They’re all so determined.
Suzanna’s mother, Polly Stankuviene, said she was pleased when the BSA allowed girls to enter the program, giving her daughter the same opportunities for growth that were afforded to her sons.
Suzanna with be the second Eagle Scout in her family, following in the footsteps of her older brother Adolfas Stankus, whose project was to clean up the Carson City Gun Club.
Polly said the projects and programs are tailored around the need of the individual.
“It’s different for everyone,” Polly said. “For my son, it gave him a great deal of confidence. Suzanna is already very independent and confident. She learned goal-setting.
“It’s a wonderful program for every kid, but everyone gets something different out of it.”
Suzanna is currently a high school sophomore and plans to pursue a career in public relations.