Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
For the first time in 20 years, the Boy Scouts of America Fort Leavenworth Troop 166 flag was unfurled during the first official meeting of the now all-female troop Feb. 4 at Patch Community Center.
Troop 166 was formed in 1967, and remained active for more than 30 years until it was disbanded in 1999.
“This flag, 50 years ago, belonged to Troop 166, which was an all-male troop. We were able to get this number back because it has history with this post and that is a cool thing, but it is ours now. It is for our troop,” said Troop 166 Scoutmaster Sarah Groefsema. “It is covered in some history, so let’s add to it. We’re tying into our Scouting roots and history now.”
BSA first announced the decision to welcome girls into its Scouting programs in October 2017.
“I’m truly excited for the girls to have the opportunity,” said Brian Resch, Troop 166 committee advancement chair and Troop 66 assistant scoutmaster. “We’re about training leaders. We are holding the girls to the exact same standards that we are holding the boys. If we expect the boys to go on a 10-mile hike, we’re going to expect (the girls) to go on a 10-mile hike. I am fully confident that every single one of them has the ability to meet and exceed those standards.”
Scouts BSA and the new Troop 166 officially began Feb. 1. Currently, there are seven girls in the troop.
“We’re starting down our Scouting journey. You know there are these famous people that climb all these famous mountains or do all these wonderful things,” Groefsema said, during the meeting. “It is awesome to climb the mountain, but do you think that’s the only part that they remember is the top of the mountain? No. They also remember the climb; the people that got them there, got them to the top; the people that they did it with; the things that happened to them both good and bad along the way.
“Your journey, the Scouting journey, your goal may be to make Eagle (Scout) and that is wonderful and I support you and we will help you get there, but the journey is just as important,” she said. “So, think about your Scouting journey along the way and know that it is yours. It is not your parents,’ it is not your brothers’ or your sisters,’ it is not mine. Though we are very happy to be a part of it, it is yours. So, when you go up to one of us and you want something signed off, that is part of your journey. So, make sure it is you that’s asking.”
The girls took their first step on their Scouting journey with elections for positions of responsibility within the troop.
Sixteen-year-old Maegan Brookshire, a sophomore at Leavenworth High School, was elected senior patrol leader. Her role will be to lead troop meetings and activities, and help troop members to progress in the program.
“I’m in the Junior ROTC program (as a cadet staff sergeant) at Leavenworth High School, and there you get leadership roles and, personally, I always like to take charge, and I like to help guide others,” Brookshire said. “I thought (being the SPL) would be a great opportunity to help everybody else in this troop with everything that they’re doing.
“I think being a leader is an important role and I thought I would be good for it,” she said. “I hope that while I’m senior patrol leader that everybody will get at least one Scout rank, and I hope that I can help others with anything they need and know that they can come to me and I can become a person that they trust. Even when I’m no longer in the position (I hope) that they will still be able to come to me and that I have a lasting impact on them.”
The assistant senior patrol leader is 16-year-old Sarah Zoch, an 11th-grader in a homeschool program. Zoch will assist Brookshire in her duties, and act as interim SPL when Brookshire is not present.
“I’ve been really impressed with everything that’s here, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far,” Zoch said. “There is a whole bunch of neat opportunities. You get to go camping and learn about knots and other things.
“Also, we’re getting in at the start of the program,” she said. “So, we’re really the ones that are going to shape this moving forward because we’re the first troop here and I think that’s really neat. It gives us so many opportunities that I don’t think you get other places.”
Twelve-year-old Adela Courtright, a seventh-grader at Patton Junior High School, was elected to be the historian. Her duty is to create a scrapbook or other keepsake that contains pictures and facts about the troop to have on file.
Twelve-year-old Eliza Resch, a seventh-grader at Richard Warren Middle School, was elected to be the scribe. She will take notes at all of the troop meetings.
Resch said she was looking forward to being a part of Scouts with her dad and younger brother.
“(Scouts) is a good teambuilding activity and you can learn more about the world, and you can do tons of things that you normally wouldn’t be able to do,” Resch said. “I’m hoping to be able to make friends and make the world a better place.”
Thirteen-year-old Carey Nestler, an eighth-grader at Patton, was elected to be the chaplain aide. Nestler will help coordinate religious programs.
Fifteen-year-old Emily Harris, a ninth-grader in a homeschool program, was elected quartermaster. Her duty is to maintain patrol equipment and suggest ideas for new equipment or replacement items.
Eleven-year-old Chloe McGalliard, a fifth-grader at Bradley Elementary School, was elected troop librarian. Her duty is to take care of the troop literature.
“One of the goals of Scouting is to bring them up as good leaders. So, (electing these roles) is giving them a leadership opportunity, and the opportunity to fulfill those roles while working with adults as well,” Groefsema said. “So, if there are any questions and concerns, we’re right there, but they’re still leading each other.”
Throughout the rest of the meeting, Groefsema led the girls through their first merit badge application and showed them ways to organize their badges and rank cards. Then, the girls met with troop leaders in hopes to fulfill their first rank requirements, and did a teambuilding activity where they created a human knot in which they had to untangle themselves without letting go of each other’s hands. Finally, one last surprise presentation was made by Andy Watson, Troop 166 committee chairman, before they wrapped up the meeting.
“In your lives, you’re going to be able to be part of things and experiences that are groundbreaking and changing. I know for me an exciting one is being able to be a member of Scouting when we celebrated our 100th anniversary, and I get to wear that wreath on my uniform,” Watson said. “But, I’ve never gotten to be a part of something as special as what you Scouts are doing here tonight.
“You got your patrol patches, you got positional patches and very quickly you’re going to start earning rank insignias and completing merit badges. But tonight, it is my privilege to present you with a really distinct thing that very few Scouts will ever have and that’s a founder’s insignia,” he said. “What you ladies have done by joining Scouting is establish a new troop in a proud and historic program in American history. It is something where I think you are going to find out so much about yourselves and about each other. You’re going to gain confidence and experience. … You’re going to find yourself joined to people from around this country and around this world, and I’m pleased to be able to help you start this journey. I am proud of all of you for undertaking this, and I really hope you have a great time.”
For more information about Troop 166, e-mail Groefsema at firstname.lastname@example.org. Troop meetings are at 7 p.m. every Monday at Patch.