Santa Maria resident Sonia Wasserman, 17, will soon get her Eagle Scout badge in the mail as one of the first female Eagle Scouts.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank offered by Scouts BSA, the organization formerly known as Boy Scouts. Just about 6% of scouts earn the title.
Scouts must earn at least 21 merit badges from a wide range of skill sets and organize a large community service project to achieve this honor. For the young women in the inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts, they’ve had less than two years to complete these tasks.
Scouts BSA opened the organization to female scouts Feb. 1, 2019. Sonia’s father, Robert Wasserman, saw it in the news that day and told Sonia.
He is an Eagle Scout himself and so is Sonia’s brother, Allan Wasserman. Mr. Wasserman served as a scoutmaster, and Sonia had been along to many events and family camps with the scouts.
She knew she wanted to be a scout and signed up the next day.
It wasn’t easy, though. There weren’t any local female troops for her to join, so she had to register as a lone scout with her dad as a mentor.
Her first weekend after registering, she earned the rank of scout by memorizing the salute and other introductory materials.
She was able to attend meetings held by the male troops with her dad there. And she earned most of her badges by going to camps and workshops.
Part of earning Eagle Scout rank is leading a troop, but she didn’t have that option right away. Eventually a female troop of Webelo Cub Scouts (scouts around the age of 10) was established, and Sonia led the young girls.
For her community service project, Sonia gathered volunteers who worked more than 100 hours to beautify Orcutt’s American Legion Post 534 headquarters building.
The group pulled up weeds, pressure washed the exterior, repaired rotting wood, caulked the exterior, sanded the woodwork, painted and embellished the facade with military emblems.
A general contractor volunteered to supervise the work, and individuals donated to the project. PPG donated paint, but Sonia still used $400 that she earned as a DoorDash driver to provide materials.
“I’ve learned a lot of leadership,” she said. “Managing the Eagle project taught me a lot of things. And I learned how to make opportunities for myself and find contacts, and I realized how willing people are to be helpful.”
The most helpful, perhaps, was her dad. She says he’s often busy (as is she), but they’d schedule times to go to meetings and camps and stick to it.
“It was a great experience you know as a father to have a better way to bond with my daughter that I wouldn’t have been able to do I don’t think if we didn’t have Scouts BSA,” Mr. Wasserman said.
Sonia is a busy high school senior who throughout her time earning badges and coordinating community service, also had school obligations. She still signed up for Scouts despite having AP classes and varsity athletics to worry about.
And she’s really happy she did.