UNION, NJ – An all-girls BSA troop from Union, chartered through Connecticut Farms Presbyterian Church, took home first place in the 2020 Munsee Klondike Challenge in Watchung Reservation on February 8. The competition tests the scout’s outdoor, first aid, camping and winter survival skills, as patrols race sleds through the Watchung Reservation.
Members of Troop 168, Abigail Sheridan, Samantha Wright, Katrina Yapczenski, Megan Stedronsky, Ashley Haug, Tarrah Kelly, Brigid Kelly, and Kate Kepuladze, are all between the ages of 11 – 14.
In the eleven months since their establishment, according to troop mother Dawn Stedronsky, the girls have learned and practiced their skills and learned to work as a team. For the Klondike Challenge, the girls built a sled from scratch.
In 2018, the Boy Scouts of America national organization began allowing girls to join, although each chartering organization was required to decide whether to allow girls to join the Pack. According to Stedronsky, the pastor and elders at Connecticut Farms Church met with representatives from the Pack and the Munsee District, who agreed to allow girls into the Cub Scout Pack. In September 2018, three female Scouts joined the Pack as Arrows of Light. Two of the Scouts had brothers who had been part of the Cub Scouts for years and were already familiar with the Scout program.
On March 3, 2019, the three Scouts crossed over from Pack 68 to the newly formed female Troop 168. Through mostly word of mouth, five more young ladies joined the Troop which now consists of eight Scouts in grades sixth through eighth. Four of the girls are former Girl Scouts and the other four are still active Girl Scouts. For all the girls, said Stedronsky, the BSA program offers them different options and experiences from the Girl Scout program. The Klondike Challenge is a great example of one of those differences.
The Troop, called the Duck Tape Patrol for the Klondike Challenge, had the highest cumulative score for all the stations.
According to troop leaders, as the only female BSA troop in Union, they welcome anyone between 11 and 18 to join. They also welcome females from neighboring towns that do not yet have established female BSA troops.