By Nona Tepper
Forest Park's Girl Scouts Brownies troop is readying for another year, while leaders from the Boy Scouts of America work this month to start the area's first girls-only troop.
Last year, Boy Scouts rolled out their "Scouts BSA" program, which allows the younger Cub Scouts to offer girls-only troops as a way to provide families more group options and to increase membership. In January 2019, Scouts BSA will officially launch girls-only troops for the old Boy Scouts. Forest Park Troop 107 is an early adopter of the program, and they plan to start their new, girls-only pack this month.
"Being married to an Eagle Scout I've certainly been exposed to the Boy Scouts, so I think if that's the choice a family wants to make, that's totally within their purview," said Kyra Tyler, Girl Scouts Brownies co-leader. "I wish they would consider Girl Scouts. We are a century-plus organization whose whole purpose has been to help girls become strong young women and leaders."
Brownies are supported by the Girl Scouts of the USA, and Forest Park's troop comprises about 14 second- and third-graders from the area, with one girl from nearby Westchester, whom the Forest Park troop adopted after operating in a group by herself as a "Juliet."
Tyler helped start the Brownies troop three years ago, as a way to provide a Girl Scouts group for her daughter and help strengthen the community. She is joined by her co-leader Bridgett Rummell.
"It's girl-led, it's for girls, by girls, designed for girls, to kind of lift them up and inspire them to be seen and be heard," Rummell said of the troop. "That's the great thing about Girl Scouts, you find out what your girls want to do, what they're interested in, or what you want to expose them to, and you can make it your own."
This year, the Brownies plan to earn their horseback riding, first aid and bug badges; tour a courthouse; visit a campsite; and much more. Those interested in learning more, or starting their own Girl Scouts group, should email email@example.com
At the beginning of a year, leaders ask the girls what they want to learn and members choose their options, last year selecting a presentation by a cop from the Forest Park Police Department, a tour of Forest Home Cemetery to see the Haymarket Martyrs Monument and a trip to the Historical Society of Forest Park, where they learned about the first women's softball league that played in Forest Park.
The group also collected items for the food pantry at the Howard Mohr Community Center, and toys for a Christmas toy drive. Selling cookies helps fund most of the troop's activities, and Brownies' cookie season starts at the beginning of the year. This year they're looking into a charity called Kids' Closet, which would entail Scouts using a pool of money from their service unit to go shopping for underprivileged children, buying shirts, sweatshirts, socks, anything the kids would need.
"We have such an eclectic group of girls," Rummell said. "We have the girly girls who are into the glitz and the glamour and the crafty things, and then we have girls who are like, 'Don't even get that glitter stuff by me. I want to go splash with bugs.' We're like, 'Let's do it all.' That's kind of the theme we had with our girls. Be open, try everything once, you never know what you're going to like."
Tyler added: "Consider us, give us a try. I think that if there isn't a troop for you or your child's age, don't be afraid to start one. If you're curious, there's likely 10 other people who are curious."