Darien girls break ground by becoming Boy Scouts
Darien has made history this year with its first ever Boy Scout troop for girls — Troop 219.
The year, so far, has been very productive for the eight girls in the troop, according to Darien resident Susie Flaherty, scoutmaster.
In March, they received a citation from state Rep. Matt Blumenthal, D-147, in recognition for being pioneers and paving the way for future girls in Boy Scouts.
Also, they began working on their Rifle Merit Badge and marched in the Memorial Day Parade for the first time as a troop.
Troop 219 members recently sat down with The Darien Times to share their experiences.
Camping, cooking, fire prevention
Through their troop, the girls participated in the district Winter Klondike at Hoyt Scout Reservation in Redding. They won the skillet cooking contest and were the only troop of girls there.
They also camped out at Camp Sequassen in New Hartford.
Caera Cope, 11, said, “We all cooked together. We cooked pasta with ground beef and chopped onions, tomatoes,” she said.
Through the Boy Scouts, Lara Philip, 11, said that she learned how to set up her tent and plan her meals.
“It’s nice to have independence,” she added. “You get to do what you want. If you do something and it doesn’t work out, then at least you learned.”
Natalie Smith, 10, talked about laying out her tent while at Camp Sequassen.
“We had to put our plastic tarp on so we wouldn’t get wet. We moved the tables and we laid it out and Maddie said to fold it over,” Natalie said. “It got really warm in the afternoon, then it got super cold at night and there was mud everywhere. You could literally go swimming in the mud.”
Kate Johnson, 11, said she learned how to shoot through the Boy Scouts, which is now called Scouts BSA.
“We arrived at the gun range and the person in charge gave us instructions on how to shoot,” Kate said. “There was a line and we couldn’t go past it until he said to go in the shooting range. After he gave instructions and we got our headphones and blocks of bullets, we went to a shooting table and shot a target that we had put up.”
All the girls in the troop currently have the rank of Scouts and are working toward earning the next rank, which is Tenderfoot. They progress through each rank by completing a variety of achievements. They meet weekly at the Darien Boy Scout cabin.
Nadia Roeser, 11, said she learned how to use a hatchet.
“Make sure there is no one in your circle,” she said. “Make sure there are no branches that could get in your way. Once that’s all cleared, get your piece of wood, get down on one knee, and take the hatchet in one hand.”
She said to make sure “not to put your hand on the piece of wood. You go at an angle and then start cutting. Once you have done five cuts, then you want to go on the opposite side.”
Pippa Morgan, 13, chopped wood for the first time as a Boy Scout. “It was nerve-wracking at first because I didn’t want to cut myself,” she said.
It was “really fun” to be at the Scout cabin,” Lara said. “People brought board games such as German Twister. It was a bonding experience.”
She added that she learned about making a fire. “We went outside and made a little fire and started roasting marshmallows.”
Caera learned about fire safety. “We learned to stop, drop, roll if you are on fire,” she said. “That will put it out. You don’t want the fire to spread.”
The girls go camping once a month.
Kate Johnson said camping is “a really good experience for all of us. One reason is because if you are stranded or lost, you will learn how to use the surroundings around you and you won’t panic.”
Maddie said all the “what ifs” can be resolved in Boy Scouts. “You will know what to do.”
She added that she would like to achieve the rank of Eagle. “It would set a good example for younger girl scouts to see that girls can become Eagle just like the boys.”
In Scouts BSA, the girls “have the opportunity to gain leadership skills that will serve them throughout their lives in social situations, in school, at work, and beyond,” Flaherty said. “They learn the joy of being in the unplugged outdoors and the vital importance of protecting our environment. Most importantly, what they achieve is entirely up to them; the leaders are merely facilitators.”
At Troop 219’s first Court of Honor, “our current patrol leader, Mattie, gave each of us a Go Your Own Way pin,” Flaherty said. “It’s a symbol of the spirit, independence, and individuality of each scout. That we, as a unit, wear it on our uniforms each week speaks to the support and friendship we give each other as a group.”
“It’s like a second home,” Kate said of her Boy Scout troop.
Girls in Boy Scouts
On Feb. 1, the Boy Scouts changed its name to Scouts BSA and opened up to girls between the ages of 10 and 18. Girls are now allowed to participate in the Boy Scouting program, and earn the rank of Eagle Scout, which is the highest rank one can attain in the program.
To date, Troop 219 in Darien is one of more than 20 girl troops in the Connecticut Yankee Council of the Boy Scouts of America, which serves 37 towns and cities in Connecticut.
Statement from the Girl Scouts
The Girl Scout leaders “fully support” girls joining Scouts BSA, said Darien resident Willow Buscemi, Girl Scout Troop co-leader and Darien Service Unit co-manager.
“In Darien, we pride ourselves in being completely supportive of both Girl Scouts and Scouts BSA,” Buscemi said.
However, she added that the Girl Scout organization “is as strong as ever in its role in nurturing girls.”
“All girls are capable of developing into groundbreakers, big thinkers, and role models. As adults, that’s one of our goals for girls. Girl Scouts is a very special, proven organization where that can happen,” said Buscemi, a mother of a girl in Girl Scout Troop 50152 and a boy in Scouts BSA Troop 53.
“We have a really thriving community of 480 Girl Scouts in Darien with 45 adult leaders. We believe an all-girl organization like Girl Scouts will always be a very special, needed, and proven place to develop girls as groundbreakers, big thinkers, and role models.”