By Anya Bochman
Kathy O’Shea, of Long Valley, is excited to serve as Assistant Scoutmaster for the area’s newly-formed Troop 336, an all-girl Scouts BSA troop and the first of its kind for Long Valley. Chartered on Feb. 1 of this year, the troop is currently in the initial stages of developing its activities and plans.
According to the Boy Scouts of America website, the leadership of the Scouts BSA program “determined that the best way to welcome girls and serve today’s families was to offer a unique model that builds on the proven benefits of our single-gender program, while also providing character and leadership opportunities for both boys and girls.” Troop 336 represents this model, with seven currently registered members, three of whom are in high school. The group accepts all girls ages 11 to 17 from Long Valley, Chester, Mount Olive, Flanders and Budd Lake.
The idea for the troop started with a Cub Scout family group – a troop consisting of both boys and girls – that O’Shea’s daughter Maura and her friend were members of. The girls – who had also been members of Girl Scouts of America – wanted to continue the experience of being BSA scouts, impressed with the organization’s focus on outdoorsmanship and leadership qualities.
“By welcoming both girls and boys into the program, even more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises,” reads a statement from BSA’s official website.
O’Shea, who was motivated by her daughter’s experience to get involved in being Scoutmaster, says that there are certain differences between Boy and Girl Scouts of America that made Maura seek out membership in the former.
“There’s a definite difference in the things they do,” O’Shea said. “BSA as a whole has more outdoor and leadership activities, whereas Girl Scouts is more individualized.”
The requirements for the group’s formation included a minimum of five girls seeking membership, as well as the existence of a leadership committee and a Scoutmaster and Assistant Scoutmaster. Another caveat was the presence of at least one registered and trained female Scoutmaster on the committee – a role fulfilled by O’Shea. Troop 336 is sponsored by the Long Valley Presbyterian Church.
On Sunday, Feb. 10, the troop held an open house for girls in grades five to 12 to showcase to potential members the merits of the program, which include the opportunity to earn Eagle rank. Physical activities the troop plans to take part in include camping, backpacking, climbing, shooting, archery and canoeing. The program will also work on developing leadership skills and engaging in community service.
At the end of March, the troop went on its first camp outing, partnering up with other BSA all-girl groups from Morristown and Stanhope.
“We are still getting things together, putting things on the calendar,” O’Shea said.
The first official meeting of Troop 336 took place on Thursday, March 7.
“We were fortunate in that [mayor Matt Murello] came to meet the girls, which was cool,” stated O’Shea.
Girls ages 11 to 17 from Long Valley, Chester, Mount Olive, Flanders and Budd Lake who are interested in joining Troop 336 can email email@example.com.