By Howard Packowitz
BLOOMINGTON – Some girls in the Twin-Cities are blazing a trail for others in an organization that’s thought of as just for boys.
The W.D. Boyce Council, overseeing Scouts BSA, or Boy Scouts of America, for most of central Illinois, including Bloomington-Normal, has formed the area’s first all-girls troop.
The five girls, ages 12 to 14, are members of Troop 9903.
W.D. Boyce Council executive director Lee Shaw Jr. said the Boy Scouts aren’t competing with Girl Scouts. He said it’s good for girls to have options, and to involve entire families in scouting.
“Whether it’s the Girl Scouts, whether it is the Boys and Girls Club, whether it’s the Y, whether it’s 4H, I believe there is room for all of us because at the end of the day, we will all be much better if we know our young people are participating in any or all of those programs,” said Shaw.
All the troop members have brothers in Boy Scouts, including Karen Espinosa, 12, an Evans Jr. High 7th grader.
“I saw the cool things he did in camps, and the activities he did. So I decided to be in this troop so I could make new friends and learn stuff about nature and learn how to use pocket knives and different things, and have new skills,” she said.
“I get to go fishing, first aid, a lot of stuff that I’m looking forward to, rock climbing that I’ve known with Boy Scouts because of my brother,” said Lauren Husted, 13, of Clinton.
Scoutmaster Jo Litwiller said the girls troops will be separate from the boys.
“We know that boys and girls do mature at a different rate. Some of the differences are obvious at this age, but they’re also still going through the stage of forming the truth and patrol, and getting to know one another. A lot of things are going to be just the same. It’s just they’re girls, instead of boys,” said Litwiller.
The W.D. Boyce Council has formed a second all-girls troop based in Canton.
Howard Packowitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org