Denison may soon be the home of an all-girl scouting troop. Troop 403 is currently looking for prospective members to help launch the city’s first girl’s group within the Boy Scouts of America.
Organizers for the new troop plan to hold a meeting about its formation at 6 p.m. Monday at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, which will serve as the chartering partner.
The all-girl troop comes as the BSA has made strides over the past two years to allow girls into some of its programs that have been historically for boys. In February, the organization changed the name of its Boy Scout program to Scouts BSA and officially started allowing all-girl troops to form.
“It is the finest youth program, recognized as such, in our country,” the Very Rev. Don Perschall of St. Luke’s said Thursday. “I want my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren to all have the same quality program that my sons had.”
Perschall said he has been involved with the BSA since he was eight years old and was a member of the Cub Scouts. His two sons followed in his steps by joining the scouts, where both earned the Eagle Scout, one of the organization’s highest honors.
“If you earn an Eagle Scout award, that is really something big,” he said, noting only two in 100 scouts achieve it. “My boys did it — my four daughters were never given the same opportunity.”
Perschall said Denison’s group would mark the third all-girl troop in the region following groups in Colbert, Oklahoma and Whitesboro. Perschall added that other troops are currently forming and should be open within the next few months.
BSA announced plans to allow girls into its Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs in late 2017, with plans to open the cubs to girls in mid-2018. Representatives for the organization said the move was aimed at opening up scouting activities to the whole family.
“This decision is true to the BSA’s mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting – trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example – are important for both young men and women,” BSA Chief Scout Executive Michael Surbaugh said in 2017.
Troop 403 will be led by Krystyna Ruppel, who previously served as a den leader within the Cub Scouts organization. Ruppel said the troop is still looking for more girls to meet the five-member minimum needed to officially form, but she plans to recruit at the schools in the coming weeks.
Ruppel said her two children have been involved with the BSA for about five years with the Cub Scouts. But, her daughter hasn’t been able to participate in the namesake group with her brother until now.
“She never got to do the scouting experience on her own, but she was always a part of it,” Ruppel said. “She would go to the camp outs, scouting for food, work with the fundraisers. She was extremely competitive, so she always sold a lot, but it was to help her brother.”
Ruppel said she valued the boy scouts because of the survival skills they taught and other lessons that would be important even as an adult. While other organizations existed, Ruppel said they didn’t teach this same skill set.
The Eagle Scout award also has value when being considered for future jobs and other opportunities going into early adulthood, Ruppel said. Her daughter has already started working out the path she needs to take to earn different badges, and hopefully someday win that recognition, she said.