For the first time in its almost 100-year history, Troop 26, a former Boy Scout group in Medford, recognized three girls to the rank of Scout and one to the rank of Tenderfoot during its latest award ceremony.
In February, when the organization changed its name to Scouts BSA and for the first time allowed girls to earn the rank of Eagle Scout, the most treasured and highest rank of the program, a group of girls in Medford decided to make history.
Three of the girls – McKenna Krakowiecki, 13, Lauren Green, 16, and Analiese Bjorn, 14 – were recognized for achieving the rank of Scout. Kiera Pratte, 11, earned the rank of Tenderfoot.
“When the tradition keeps going on, maybe younger girls would look up to us because we are one of the first people,” said Kiera.
Troops across the country may choose to establish a new girl pack, establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens or remain an all-boy pack. The adult leadership in Troop 26 only acts as supervisors and allows the youth to make decisions. The troop acts as a linked pack, in which the adult leadership meets and both the girls and boys go on trips together, such as camping. The question comes down to how much do they want to correlate, or do with, the boys troops.
Since the Scouts BSA is a youth-led organization, the older youth lead the younger, and since girls just started in February, only the boys are the ones leading the troops. As of now, the girls are learning from the older boys, but as time goes on, the girls will be able to lead.
The biggest learning curve, Troop Leader Leo Pratte explained, is from the adults, who sometime feel uncomfortable about the camping situations.
“It’s interesting that the adults put a big emphasis on the difference but the kids don’t see the big deal,” said Leo, who is also Kiera’s father. “It’s hard for us to think in the minds of today’s teenager.”
Kiera, along with the other girls, say they don’t find it hard to fit into the group.
When Krakowiecki left the Girl Scouts to join the Scouts BSA, she was more interested in outdoor activities, such as camping. It was an easy transition since her brother was in the group. In fact, every girl in the Troop has a brother either in Cub Scouts or Scouts BSA.
Leo remembered a time when the Scouts were planning what to eat during camp. The girls chose healthier decisions; boys did spaghetti and meatballs, girls did chicken salad and yogurt.
“That’s the irony of it, it’s also a lot of other things, people with a disability, sexual orientation, people are a lot more accepting in this generation than when most of the parents were children,” said Leo. “They are already taught in this society that difference is OK.”
In the future, the goal of the girl pack is to recruit up to 10 new girls by next February, essentially to double in size.
“That’s our intent, that’s our goal, we’ll see if we get there,” said Leo.
Those who are interested can find more information about the Troop on their website, https://www.troop26bsa.net/test/. They meet every Monday at 7 p.m. at St Peter’s Episcopal Church.