Forest Park Troop 107 will soon add a girls-only troop.
Last year, the Boy Scouts of America rolled out their “Scouts BSA” program, which allows the younger Cub Scouts to offer girls-only troops as a way to provide families more group options and increase membership. In January 2019, Scouts BSA will officially launch girls-only troops for the older Boy Scouts. Troop 107 is an early adopter of the program, and plans to start their new, girls-only pack in early September.
“Girls Scouts is a fantastic organization, they’ve been around like 106 years, they are a great group,” said Matthew Brown, scoutmaster for Troop 107. “We’re just trying to create an additional option for girls. Every troop is a little different; one might be a better fit or the other meeting schedule dates might not work out. I just want to get as many people involved in Scouts as I can.”
St. John Lutheran Church in Forest Park has agreed to be the chartering organization for the new girls troop and will provide the physical space for the den to meet and to vet adult leaders.
“I think it’s a good thing. I think Girl Scouts is also a fine organization. So I don’t think it’s so much a matter of competing between the organizations,” said Pastor Leonard Payton. “If you consider a family that has both boys and girls in it, well sometimes just the scheduling issues will make it more convenient for the family to do one or the other.”
Brown said this year the girls troop will likely do things in tandem with the boys den, like attending Northwestern University’s STEM and Sports Day, going horseback riding and “getting outdoors as much as we can.” Last year, the troop camped in Rock Cut State Park in western Illinois, Apple River Canyon in the northwest part of the state, and took an extended camping trip to Badlands National Park in South Dakota. Brown said the 24-person troop embraces the scout-led model of leadership and that those elected to higher office in the den will meet this week to plan events for the coming year.
“Our job is to guide them in what they want to do, and help them figure out how to do it,” Brown said.
About half the scouts are Forest Park residents; the other half live in other communities, such as Oak Park, Brookfield, and River Forest.
The group is looking for members, as well as a new, preferably female, scoutmaster to lead the girls group. Those interested in leading or joining the new pack should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I got a daughter who has sat there and watched me for the last six years do this with her older brothers; she is the right age for it and is incredibly excited to be joining up,” Brown said. “I have fantastic kids; they are young adults who, to watch them grow in their maturity, in their leadership, as individuals — it’s what keeps me going with scouting.”