Today the state of Mississippi’s Boy Scouts of America celebrated their Eagle Scouts recognition dinner highlighting the highest rank a boy can earn.

But today also marks the first day the organization is allowing girls to join in what’s called Scouts BSA giving them their own troop while offering the same opportunities the boys get.

Well there were many things to celebrate tonight from those becoming Eagle Scouts, to individuals being recognized for helping someone in need, plus giving thanks to one man putting Mississippi Boy Scouts back on the map.

Written in their law, a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, and friendly. And tonight one man was recognized for turning those words into action.

“To be recognized and to be part of this with all those people and all these boys on such a memorable night it’s a big deal,” former Scoutmaster Jay Cooke Jr. Said. “I’ve been a scout since 1971 and it’s a big deal.”

Over the years scoutmaster Jay Cooke saw more troops in Mississippi going out of state to camp. So with the help of other Scouts he raised over $4 million to build up Hood Scout Reservation.

“We’ve turned it into a real regional scout center,” Cooke continued. “This past year we had over 1200 kids come to camp.”

“We have every program that you could ever want as a youth,” scout executive Anthony Haines told us. “And we have been ranked one of the top ten Boy Scout camps now for three years in a row.”

Now that girls through Scouts BSA can join the outdoor fun in their own troops with the same activities, some leaders and their daughters see a big step forward for the future of scouting.

“it gives us more opportunities to be more outdoorsy and more outgoing instead of just being the homebody’s like a lot of girls are or can be,” Venture Scout Collins Cooke said. “I’ve been a part of Scouts since day one when I was a baby.”

“My daughter just wanted to be a Scout and there’s so many like that,” Jay said. “They wanted to be a part of the program that we offer and they just couldn’t find it. Now they have a chance to be part of it.”

“My girls I have a 26 year old and I have a 20 year old and they were never allowed to be member of the boy scouts of America,” Haines stated. “They did everything I did and as a result they got the experience.”

Leaders of the Mississippi boy scouts like Jay Cooke Jr. expect to see Hood Scout Reservation continue to grow putting scouting in Mississippi back on the map. Where his daughter Collins plans to join him this summer teaching the next generation of girls and boys what it means to be a Scout.