High school junior, Megan Gong recently made waves as the first female Eagle Scout in the Rose Bowl District of the Greater Los Angeles Area Council. As part of the inaugural class of female eagle scouts, she helped form one of the first all-girl troops in her area.
Gong grew up admiring her brother, Adam, who was heavily involved in the Boy Scouts program alongside her scoutmaster-father. As a lover of the outdoors, she yearned to join them on their camping expeditions and felt unfulfilled as a Girl Scout. In February 2019, she finally got her chance.
For the first time, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) opened its admissions to both boys and girls on February 1st. Gong leapt at the opportunity. Upon her recruitment, she established the Troop 360, the first and only all-female troop in San Marino with the help of her father. “There weren’t any troops around the area at that time, but I didn’t want to wait around.” Gong explains. Starting with only 4 scouts, the troop quickly blossomed. Within 2 years, Gong rose through the ranks and achieved the Eagle Scout rank in December 2020.
Earning Eagle is no small feat. On average, only 6% of scouts attains the prestigious rank. Requirements include an extensive repertoire of merit badges and service hours. Gong notes that many scouts quit due to its difficulty and exclusivity.
Her journey as an Eagle Scout equally had its fair share of obstacles. Gong recalls that “One of the main hardships was being a girl in a boy community and an Asian-American in a predominantly white establishment. They will treat you differently and they stare at you differently.” In once instance, a male boy scout told her to “go outside and sell Girl Scout cookies” during a merit badge event.
Despite these reservations, Gong persisted and never gave up. Rather than accept their crude remarks, Gong surrounded herself with supportive individuals and focused on her goals. She continually developed her leadership and social skill; even hosting a leadership a conference alongside LA county supervisor, Kathryn Barger. Inspired by her father—a former student of the Police Academy—, she decided to devote her final Eagle Project to the local LAPD. The subject of her project? Picnic tables.
Gong noticed that benches near the academy were dilapidating from age and abuse. Once a site for recreation and conversation, the lunch tables became abandoned relics of chipped paint and rotting wood, riddled with nails and staples that used to hold down table cloth during friendly gatherings. To Gong, these benches were more than broken wood. “Benches hold so much importance. You go there every day, talk to your friends and have lunch. I just wanted to fix those tables so people at the Police Academy have somewhere to sit,” Gong said.
The LAPD officers and staff praised her thoughtful efforts. Capt. Peter Casey of the Academy personally congratulated her and shared the results on their official Facebook page to a resoundingly positive reception.
Megan Gong hopes that her work continues to inspire other female scouts to soar high and aim for the sky.