New rules, new faces for scouts’ Samoset Council
Recent changes to criteria for joining scouts BSA has resulted in an influx of new faces for local BSA Samoset Council, in a rather quick manner. As of February 1. a rule change gave the option of joining scouts to both boys and girls ages 11-18 and in September of 2017, joining cub scouts became an option for both school aged boys and girls. According to Samoset Council Unit Serving Executive Kristin Woller, the changes have led to 109 girls joining cub scout dens since in a matter of just 18 months and 32 girls joining Scouts BSA in just two months. Along with the changes, girls who choose to join can advance through the ranks of the organization up to Eagle Scout, same as their male counterparts.
As Woller explains, the changes were brought about based on feedback from families. “We feel the recent changes are a great thing not only for the scouts but for their families as well. Prior to the changes going into effect, the national scouts BSA office had received feedback from families who were looking for an organization or program the whole family could participate in together. Families are very busy in this day and age, so when they do find time for activities, they want to do it together rather than in the past where father took the son to one activity and mom took the daughter to another,” Woller adds. “Scouts is an organization that can do just that, provide fun activities the whole family can enjoy.” The changes have not only resulted in a positive impact on numbers for Samoset Council as a whole, but has made a profound impact locally as well; with the creation of new scouts BSA troop 513 in January.
According to Troop 513 scout master Derek Krzanowski. the troop formed on January 1 and already has enlisted 16 members in the boys troop and 7 members in the girls troop.
“A common misconception with the recent changes allowing girls to join scouts, is that scout troops have become co-ed, and that’s not the case at all,” Krzanowski explains. “Scouts BSA has girls troops and boys troops, and cub scouts have girls dens and boys dens. Troops can come together and work together during events and activities. But they can also do their own troop activities. A key advantage to this, are the troops not having to compete for leadership positions. Every member of each troops has equal opportunity.”
“Dens and troops are linked by a shared committee, otherwise they function independently,” Woller adds.
Another common misconception Woller cites is that of the belief of Boy Scouts being disbanded.
“That’s not the case at all. We still have the exact same programming cub scouts and boy scouts have always had and we still provide programming to youth ages 11-18 in scouts BSA and school aged youth in Cub Scouts, We are still Boy Scouts of America, but instead of being known only as Boy Scouts, we are known as scouts BSA.”
Locally, the changes have gone off without a hitch for troops 513, according to Krzanowski.
“We haven’t seen or heard of any issues whatsoever. Female troop members have been welcomed and accepted in the same positive manner as everyone else. I think the most meaningful aspect of girls now being able to join us, is girls now being able to earn badges and merits. Before, girls could always do the same activities as boys, but they could never earn anything for it. Now they can!” he adds with a grin. Krzanowski cites a recent trip by the troop to Scout Island in Tomahawk, for their “Iditarod Weekend”, winter camping event, during the first weekend in February.
“Its set up like a typical outdoor campout activity. The scouts set up camp, cook outside and so on but instead of setting up tents to sleep in, they must build large quinzhee huts for themselves. A quinzhee hut is basically a cave carved out of a large snow bank. Once finished, scouts slept in the huts Friday and Saturday nights,” he said. “Troop members then participate in various activities and compete in various challenges together throughout the weekend. Before the changes happened, allowing us to welcome girls to the troop, girls could have came along for the weekend but they would not have been allowed to participate in the activities.”
“Merrill has always been very supportive of our organization and activities,” Woller said. “We have always been very grateful for the generous support from the community over the years.”
Troop 513 meets twice a month at St. Stephens United Church of Christ on the first and third Tuesdays, at 6:30 p.m. Derek Krzanowski can be reached at 715-218-6043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on cub scouts and/or scouts BSA, Kristin Woller can be reached at (715) 490-0450 or via email: email@example.com, or visit Samoset Council online at http://www.samoset.org