Jack Walker Published

North Central W.Va. Boy Scouts Council Elects First Female President

Amy Garbrick stands beside three fellow scouting leaders and a sign that says "Boy Scouts of America Mountaineer Area Council."
Amy Garbrick stands beside fellow scouting leaders after being named president of a Boy Scouts of America council based in north central West Virginia.
Alex Casey/Boy Scouts of America Mountaineer Area Council

Amy Garbrick, a scouting leader from Morgantown, was elected president of the governing board for the Boy Scouts of America Mountaineer Area Council Feb. 8.

Garbrick’s election earlier this month marked the first time a woman ever served as president of the council’s governing board. The council oversees scouting programs across 12 counties in north central West Virginia.

The role of president is generally held for three years. Jack Walker spoke to Garbrick about her plans for her new position, as well as gender inclusion in scouting since the Boy Scouts went co-ed in 2019.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Walker: To begin, could you just tell me a little bit about the new position you were appointed to?

Garbrick: I was appointed as the first female chair of the Mountaineer Area Council Boy Scouts of America. And that is a position that I will hold for — traditionally, it’s been about three years.

Walker: Could you also tell me a little bit about your background in scouting? I know that you had some experience running a Cub Scout troop.

Garbrick: Sure. So, back in 2013, I was a member of Reedsville United Methodist Church in Preston County, and one of our church members asked me. He said, ‘Amy, I’m going to start a Cub Scout pack here at our church, and I wanted to see if you would help me.’ … My sons were four and six, and six years old was, at the time, the youngest that you could be. You had to be in the first grade to be in the Cub Scouts. And he said, ‘Amy, I would like you to help me.’ And I said, ‘Okay, sure.’

So I thought he was going to bring them all to my house, and he was going to teach them “scout things” while like, I baked cookies, and they were just all hanging out at my house. The next week at church, he brought me the Cub Scout manual, basically, and he said, ‘Okay, let me know when you’re gonna schedule your first meeting, and you’re in charge.’

I said, ‘I don’t know anything about scouting.’ And he said, ‘Amy, you’ll learn it.’ That was in 2013, and we started out with six boys. That was before girls were in the organization. Then, when I stepped away as the cub master in 2020, we had over 50 boys and girls in our Cub Scout pack.

Walker: I know this is new to you, obviously, but are there any things you’re particularly looking to accomplish in your tenure?

Garbrick: I mean, it’s actually pretty simple. I want to make sure that everyone in north central West Virginia knows that the Boy Scouts of America is here for them. There is a pack or a troop somewhere nearby.

I would love to just get our word out there that scouting is still very much alive here in our counties, and we’re not just the ones that teach boys how to go camping. We teach everything from leadership and character development to citizenship and fitness. We teach all of those things to boys and girls in all different ages of life. We’re not just teaching kids how to tie knots and go camping. We’re so much more than that.

Any child, as long as you’re in kindergarten and up — any child, boys and girls both, are welcome in the Boy Scouts of America.

Walker: You mentioned that girls are also allowed to get involved in scouting now beyond the Girl Scouts, which is a separate entity. Could you tell me about that trend over the years, and how it has impacted the scouting experience from your perspective as someone who is overseeing a lot of these programs?

Garbrick: So girls in scouting is actually not new. Girls have been involved in scouting for decades. In other programs of the Boy Scouts of America, it wasn’t until the past five or six years that nationally girls were welcomed into the Cub Scouts, as well as into the Scouts BSA program. So that’s the younger girls in kindergarten all the way up to the age of 18. They were welcomed into the program about five or six years ago.

Honestly, I’m so glad for it. I was the cubmaster when we welcomed our first girl into our pack. Her name was Kennedy. I’ll never forget, she was so excited that now she actually got to not only come to the meetings because she was already coming with her older brother. Now she gets to come to the meetings and actually participate and earn advancement and earn recognition. So she was so excited. The girls at the older level, at the troop level — they joined the Boys Scouts of America in 2019, and they have hit the ground running.

Walker: Now, you’re obviously the first woman to hold this position. What does that mean for you, and how is it going to impact the way that you approach this new role?

Garbrick: Sure. So, it’s obviously very exciting. I’m excited mainly to show young girls and young women that yes, I am a woman, and I’m in the Boy Scouts of America. And you can be, too.

Really, if I can get just another handful of girls to join the program then I’m doing my job. I really just want young girls and young women to look up to me and to see, ‘Hey, there’s a woman who is leading this organization. I should join and see what it’s all about.’

Amy Garbrick and her sons Tyler and Ethan stand before a sign that says "Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree." They are wearing scouting uniforms.
Amy Garbrick attends the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree in 2023. She is pictured beside her sons Tyler and Ethan, from left.

Photo Credit: Amy Garbrick