Brooke Craig had quite the Memorial Day weekend. On May 27, the 18-year-old resident of Riverside graduated from Riverside-Brookfield High School and sang at the graduation ceremony.
The next day Craig became an Eagle Scout. And on May 30, she sang the National Anthem, “America the Beautiful” and the Armed Forces medley at Riverside’s Memorial Day ceremony.
Craig is believed to be the first girl in Riverside, Brookfield or North Riverside to earn the Eagle Scout rank, the highest honor for Scouts BSA, formerly the Boy Scouts of America.
“It means a lot,” Craig said of becoming an Eagle Scout. “The fact that I, as a girl, went through BSA — it still stands for Boy Scouts of America — it was really great and I would encourage any girl who’s interested in it to go and do it, for sure.”
Craig, who had been a Girl Scout until seventh grade, joined the Boy Scouts in 2019, when she was a freshman in high school.
“I made a lot of really good friends [in Girl Scouts], but when we started getting into middle school time it started falling apart a little bit and I figured out that I wanted to get more into the camping and outdoor aspect of scouting,” Craig said. “In Girl Scouts we really just sold cookies.”
Craig had been a member of a Girl Scout troop based in Berwyn. When she was in eighth grade a Girl Scout friend of hers, Sarah Hrubecky, decided to join the Boy Scouts as soon as girls were allowed and asked Craig if she wanted to join with her.
“I jumped at the opportunity,” Craig said.
Before girls were officially allowed to join BSA in 2019, Craig, Hrubecky and a few other girls joined a BSA-affiliated group called Crew to see if they would like being part of the Boy Scouts.
“I wanted to learn more about the outdoors and I wanted to learn more about hard core camping,” Craig said.
She liked it and, along with Hrubecky and four other girls, joined Boy Scout Troop 32 based out of St. Leonard Church in Berwyn in 2019.
“As soon as we were allowed all of us joined,” Craig said.
Technically the girls and boys in Troop 32 belong to different troops, Troop 32G and Troop 32B, but they typically act as one troop.
“We do everything together,” Craig said.
Craig advanced through all the ranks to become an Eagle Scout in just three years, rapidly piling up the 21 merit badges and becoming the third female Eagle Scout of Troop 32. Hrubecky was the first.
“A lot of the boys had a head start on me and the other girls when we joined, but it was pretty doable,” Craig said.
She learned to tie knots, start campfires and all the other things that Boy Scouts do. The boys in her troop welcomed the girls joining their troop.
“The transition bringing girls in was relatively smooth,” Craig said. “I mean, of course, there are always those people that won’t like the fact that girls are in Boy Scouts now, but my troop and surrounding troops were very understanding, very kind and wanted other girls to join their troops. It was not bad at all.”
On overnight campouts the girls and boys have separate campsites and they are not allowed to visit the opposite sex’s campsite and tents.
Boyd is an accomplished singer. She recently was awarded a National School Choir Award and received a scholarship from the River Forest-based Heritage Chorale. Craig performed in choir and musical theater productions throughout her years at RBHS.
For her Eagle Scout project, Craig combined her interests. She built rolling stools that also serve as storage cabinets for the RBHS Theater Department’s Green Room, where performers get do their hair and makeup before performances.
“We were having a little bit of seating problems,” Craig said. “We were all trying to get our hair and makeup done for our shows and we needed a lot more storage.”
Initially Craig and her stepdad, Bill Wallace, went to hardware stores and Ikea to look at materials and drum up ideas. Ultimately, she decided to buy wooden cabinets from Ikea, turn them over, put wheels and doors on them and turn them into rolling stools with storage space underneath the seats.
A bunch of friends, some from scouts and others from RBHS, gathered in the garage at Craig’s home and hammered the pieces together.
RBHS English teacher Sarah Johnson, who assists in plays at RBHS, provided excess fabric from the theater department’s costumes for cushioning on the stools.
“The RB Theater Department has done so much for me and I’ve had so much fun, and it was nice to give back to them,” Craig said. “A little full circle moment.”
In the fall, Craig will attend DePaul University, where she was awarded a full scholarship. Inspired by former RBHS music teacher Aubrey Prince, Craig plans to study music education.
But this week, she is on one more scouting adventure in the Florida Keys, learning to sail.