BAYONNE, NJ - The newly reorganized Scouts BSA Units based at Trinity Parish in Bergen Point is now recruiting members, and girls are welcome.
The Boy Scouts of America opened admissions to girls in 2017 in a move that grants them access to the expansive educational programs the national organization has offered to boys for more than a century.
Trinity Church in Bergen Point, which is the chartered organization to Troop 27 and Cub Scout Pack 27, will establish Troop 327, allowing girls to participate for the first time locally. Scouts will gather at Trinity Church to officially kick off the program on February 9.
While girls have previously been able to join the Cub Scouts, this recent decision allows for older girls, up to 17 years old, to grow with the organization and to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, this highest within the BSA.
The new Troop 327, organizers say, will be the same as the boys'. Although the groups will be guided by many experienced leaders within the existing units, activities and outings for the older scouts will be separate.
BSA said the expansion is also aimed at helping busy families consolidate programs for their children.
More than a dozen girl cub scouts have already signed up for the new program, allowing them to transition from the cub scouts troop scouting the way boys have in the past.
“Our girls are thrilled,” said Justin Wekesser, committee chair of Troop 327.
The national scouts BSA organization said when making the change that the move reflects the changing nature of American life, adding to the appeal of a scouting program that can serve the entire family.
Scouts BSA said it commissioned two nationwide surveys that showed parents not involved in scouting had high interest in getting their daughters signed up for both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts.
One Bayonne parent familiar with both the boy scout and girl scout programs of the past claims the Scouts BSA provides unique educational opportunities different than the Girl Scouts.
Historically, scouts were seen as more focused on rural outdoor activities, while girl scouts were more urban and supposed to provide a combination of domestic and outdoor skills.
The Bayonne parent, whose daughter was a girl scout, said the experience was largely domestic, and when this parent got involved later with the local BSA units, she saw more opportunities for a range of educational programs, including those involved in STEM and other skills applicable to school.
But one of the big attractions Scouts BSA have traditionally offered are trips to remote places to do things like white water rafting, rock climbing, and other high adventure.
“We try to do a trip a month,” Dan Alfieri, the Scoutmaster at Troop 327, said, adding that their troop’s philosophy has always been about being inclusive, and an extension of its membership to admit girls helps meet that.
“We see this is a great opportunity,” he said.
Troop 27 was founded in 1935 at Assumption Church. “When Assumption closed, we came to Trinity,” Alfieri said. The designation of the new troop, 327, reflects scouting history at both parishes.
“Trinity used to have a troop of its own number 3,” Alfieri said. “So, we’ve combined the numbers to reflect that. In addition, the 3 representing 'Trinity' acknowledges our great appreciation to our Chartered Organization which has allowed our units to flourish.
“In scouting, the youth are supposed to run the program and adults are to provide guidance,” Alfieri told TAPinto Bayonne in an effort to further articulate what he called one of the main focuses of the BSA, to “develop leadership skills,” something he and other organizers say is just as important for girls.
Gene Perry, Treasurer of Troop 327, said scouts usually conduct fund drives to help offset the costs associated with scouting. Traditionally, scouting involves buying gear and other expenses, and scouts seek ways to raise money to get the gear they need.
“Scouts earn their own way,” Perry said.
Click here for more information about scouting in Bayonne.
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