MONROE, CT — Cub Scouts of Pack 162 earned their badges and rose to the next levels of scouting in front of their proud parents during the annual Blue & Gold Ceremony, held inside the Jockey Hollow Middle School auditorium Sunday afternoon. The highlight of the day was seeing the Arrow of Light Scouts cross the bridge from Cub Scouts to Scouts.
History was also made, as six girls went on to form Troop 26, Monroe’s first-ever all-girls Scouts BSA troop.
“We’re excited to be the first girl troop in Monroe,” said Aneta Szczypiorski, scoutmaster of Troop 26. “The girls are motivated and are looking forward to engaging in everything that the next level can offer, becoming independent, running their own troop, designing their own T-shirt and neckerchief.”
“We are starting from scratch and they will decide how they would like to run their troop and challenge themselves,” she said. “We will guide them along the way, but it’s their troop and they’re in charge.”
Annie Scarano is assistant scoutmaster.
In 2018, the Boy Scouts of America changed its name to Scouts BSA and allowed girls to join its ranks. Szczypiorski said this allows girls the opportunity to earn the coveted rank of Eagle.
Leon Demers, committee chair of troops 62 and 26, said girls can participate in more adventures than in Girl Scouts, while earning more merit badges. Scouts can earn up to 137 medals. A minimum of 21 are required to earn an Eagle, 14 of which are required.
The girls of Troop 26 are: Eleanor Alvord, Samantha Belden, Cara Crowley, Bella Lupo, Grace Oleyar and Amberlyn Santarsiero.
On Sunday, children became Lions Cubs of Den 3, Tiger Cubs of Den 5, Wolf Cubs of Den 6, Bear Cubs of Den 2, Webelos of Den 1 and Arrow of Light Scouts of Den 4. Each child was introduced and their parents presented their badges onstage to cheers.
Aside from the girls participating in the Arrow of Light Scouts ceremony, families celebrated three boys who participated and will join boys’ Troop 62, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year. Troop 62’s new Scouts are Christopher Budjinski, Ashlar Pickens and Chad T.
Szczypiorski said the creation of Troop 26 would not be possible without the efforts of Demers, Scarano, Treasurer Nancy Hancox (whose son Robert earned his Eagle) and Advancement Coordinator Michael Trimbach (whose son Brien earned his Eagle).
Szczypiorski was involved in scouting, while growing up in Poland, and her son was a Boy Scout in town.
“I think it’s awesome that the girls have this opportunity,” she said. “It will help them with their leadership skills. They will challenge themselves to go as far as they can go. They will be there to support and cheer for each other. There’s leadership and camaraderie. They’ll celebrate their successes and work through hurdles.”
Szczypiorski said Troop 26 reached out to other girls’ troops within the BSA, who offered assistance during their first year. Troop 26’s first meeting is Monday night at the Stepney Fire Department and the girls have been planning a week-long summer trip at Camp Sequassen in New Hartford.
“We have hikes planned, activities, overnights … ” Szczypiorski said. “The girls are excited. We will be lively and visible and hopefully we’ll attract more girls.”
She said two girls from the Girl Scouts have already reached out to join their new troop. Those who are interested can visit Troop 26’s website.
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