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December 2, 2020
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Five years later Unicorn update

  • Danelle and 15-year-old Ella Jacobs just before a 7.4-mile Scout hike in Shiloh Ranch Regional Park in Santa Rosa at about 9:30 a.m. on November 14, 2020. Photo by Robert Grant

By: Cassandra May Albaugh
November 20, 2020

Five years ago, the Unicorns were banned by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) from participating in Scouting activities.  These six 10 and 11-year-old girls had been unofficially meeting as a Cub Scout pack doing scouting activities just like their brothers and friends for almost a year without any issues. They even went to a regional BSA competition. They did well. Then someone filed a complaint with BSA’s national leadership. That’s when they were told Boy Scouting was for boys only. If you Google, Ella Jacobs, and Boys Scouts, you can read those stories from five years ago.

That was then, this is now. Today, Troop 55G, still called the Unicorns, exists. They are a linked Troop with 55B in the Redwood Empire Council of the BSA. On February 1, 2019, the BSA changed their name to Scouts BSA and began authorizing either independent or linked girl troops to participate in scouting. A linked troop, while technically separate and with their own Scoutmasters and youth leadership, share a troop number with the boys’ troop. This allows joint adult leaders except for the Scoutmaster, shared activities, assets, meeting times and locations. Troop 55B and 55G are charted by the Montgomery Village Lions Club in Santa Rosa, CA.

Ella Jacobs, now 15, is the only original Unicorn remaining. Her mother, Danelle, is the Scoutmaster. Currently, eight other girls belong to the troop including Megan Fike. Megan, age 18, is in the final stages of obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout. She’ll be the troop’s first to do so. She must complete her Eagle Scout project, fill out her application paperwork and pass the Board of Review. Her Eagle Project is being done at Earle Baum Center (EBC) in Santa Rosa. EBC serves people with sight loss in Sonoma, Lake, Mendocino and Napa Counties. To date, they have partnered with Scouts BSA on eight projects with three more to come. One of those is Megan’s.

Under her leadership, scouts from both troops will rehabilitate the framing and doors of two storage sheds on EBC’s campus. 

Ella is not far behind. She’s working on her final merit badge in “Environmental Science.” Then she’ll prepare her Eagle Project proposal, likely with the Humane Society or similar non-profit as she wants to become a veterinarian. Once the project is complete, she’ll prepare her Eagle packet. Following in Megan’s footsteps, this original Unicorn will be another Eagle Scout for Troop 55G. Ella is currently a Senior Patrol Leader and Megan is the troop’s Quartermaster. 

Danelle Jacobs said on February 1, 2019 they were welcomed with open arms by Troop 55. Acceptance has been wonderful, and she feels extra ordinarily lucky to have it. That’s not always the case, however. When the girls go to camporees or other places, a lot of folks cast angry glances at them. She and the girls often feel they have targets on their back as there are still folks who feel scouting is “for boys only.” Danelle said, “It’s been a long road.” She “couldn’t be prouder of the girls, especially Ella” who have endured many barriers to becoming Scouts BSA. Ella said, “We’re here and I’m grateful for that.” Megan expressed “how much I loved my experience” and how she hopes “girls will have the chance to do the same and gain the experience” that I have. Ella too said, “I feel really lucky,” that scouting “opened a lot of opportunities” for her. She is grateful for the skills she learned and the friends she made in scouting.

Ella plans on remaining involved with scouting after she ages out at 18. She envisions roles as an adult such as Assistant Scoutmaster or even Scoutmaster; perhaps replacing her mom with Troop 55G, which would be simply fine with Danelle. Megan is on the move. Graduating this year from Santa Rosa High School, she applied to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She plans to use the skills she learned in scouting, especially leadership, as an Elementary School Teacher, likely in North Carolina.

Danelle Jacobs said there are a couple of other girl troops in the Redwood Empire Council which covers Sonoma and Mendocino Counties. For girls interested in Scouting BSA, they can reach out to her at dkjscouts@gmail.com. Megan is reaching out to local Santa Rosa businesses to locate donated supplies and hopes to complete the project this month. If interested in donating supplies or learning more about EBC you can check out their website at www.earlebaum.org and for the scouting projects planned for 2020-21, you can contact Kati Aho, Director of Programs at aho@earlebaum.org. Some of the projects planned are removing and replacing fencing along Occidental Road, replacing the Earle Baum Center signage and creating a new outdoor meeting space. EBC partners with both Troops 32 and 55 for these projects.