Updated: Mar 17, 2019
February 1st was the official date that Scouts BSA allowed Girl Troops to charter, and we were ready! The girls had already unofficially met to complete paperwork and volunteer at our Charter Organization, the Palmerton Rod and Gun Club, during one of their membership mailing nights. Their excitement was infectious, and they were counting down the days. They were and are proud to be the first (and we think only) founder girl troop in the North Valley Region of Minsi Trails Council, PA.
Their excitement was put on hold though when snow and ice moved in: THREE WEEKS IN A ROW. When school cancels, we cancel meetings; and school cancelled all three of our first scheduled Wednesday night meetings (2/6, 2/13, and 2/20). By the third week, the girls were so frustrated, we got creative.
1st Meeting (2/20): I wanted to help soothe their frustration, so I offered to conduct that first meeting over my business Zoom account from the safety of our own homes, and the girls jumped at the offer! Zoom is a web meeting platform that enabled them to see each other while we presented the most important information needed to start the Troop. It was more successful than expected, and we were able to minimize the effects of the snow delays.
2nd Meeting (2/27): We all arrived, ready to walk through the structure of a meeting in person, but the key card system was malfunctioning and we could not get in the building. We smiled, adapted, and the girls quickly decided on a plan B (which meant driving two minutes up the road and having our meeting in Mr. and Mrs. Emert's living room while the parents met in their kitchen). It ended up being a very productive meeting where they reviewed and walked through the meeting structure; practiced the Scout Sign, Oath, Law, Slogan, and Salute; and heard Mr. Jim's story of how he earned the honorable Red Knot award during his Scouting days.
3rd Meeting (3/6): I was away for a Leadership Convention, so Mr. Jim [Emert] conducted the meeting. The girls again moved through the structure of the meeting; learned a square knot, and reviewed what they learned the week before. During the Patrol meeting, they decided on their Patrol name and patch: the Midnight Howlers, with a wolf patch. They had a blast, and were excited to bring their ropes home so they could practice.
4th Meeting (3/13): This was a special meeting because a reporter from the Times News came to interview our Troop! We went through the opening and conducted some girl-led training which included reviewing the square knot and learning a double hitch knot, learning the Leave No Trace principles, and summarizing the ranks at a high level. After that it was time for the interview, which took up most of the remaining meeting time. However, they had just enough time to meet in their Patrol and create their Patrol Yell: "We Are--The Midnight Howlers! Ah-oooooooooooo!" (in the style of the Penn State cheer).
The girls are already requesting guidance with specific merit badges, proposing events, and discussing which camp they will attend this summer. This is definitely going to be a fun and active troop! The best part? We have such a wide range of personalities, including one highly competitive athlete who is afraid of spiders and not sure she will ever camp because of it, one who doesn't like anything very athletic, one who loves anything outdoors and wants to be in the military, one artist, and another who is well-versed in extreme outdoor recreational activities and is looking forward to a lot of adventure. That means we will have a diverse and interesting mix of activities that should appeal to just about any young woman who wants to join us!
We decided as a troop to hold off on holding elections until the girls have time to get to know one another better. For now, those who are interested are taking turns acting as the Senior Patrol Leader and they are voting on what to do next at the end of each meeting. Once everyone who wants a turn gets one, we will hold our first Troop elections and officially start Patrol Leaders' Council (PLC) meetings to plan a month or two at a time.
To say Mr. Jim and I have been impressed with these girls, especially how well they expressed themselves during the interview, is an understatement. We were amazed at how mature their responses sounded, and how well they chose their words as they expressed their excitement for this opportunity. It made us even more proud to guide them as a Troop leaders. I guess the Times News was also impressed, because they have requested to return and produce a video. Now the girls say they are 'nerv-i-cited!'
We welcome any of you who would like to visit and check out our Troop! Feel free to message us at BSAtroop209G@gmail.com if you want more information.