A few years ago, a handful of young girls joined their brothers and other male friends in Cub Scout Pack 79 sponsored by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. “It was a good fit for them,” said Johanna O’Loughlin, mother of Nuala, one of the scouts. “They were all adventurous, athletic and outdoorsy.” Their interests were in line with those reflected by the long-term focus of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
All went well until they turned 11, the age when BSA separates the co-ed troops, a practice designed partly to allow the girls a little more space to learn and practice leadership qualities.
O’Loughlin and other parents realized the former girl Cub Scouts were used to a great deal of physical challenges, challenges well-supported by BSA programming. Kyle Enfield who, along with Erika Priddy, leads the troop, said this was true of both his children, a girl and a boy. Both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts are part of world scouting, Enfield said. He added that there was no inherent criticism of local Girl Scouts in forming their all-girl troop. At this level,” he said, “the troops are led by their members and supported by adults. We’re supporting the girls as they explore what they’re interested in.
The girls already had a good idea of what they were interested in. They’ve hiked the Priest (a strenuous nine-mile Nelson County hike with a 3,000-foot elevation gain). “They’ve carried 70-pound packs, they’ve done high ropes courses, and they want to become Eagle Scouts,” O’Loughlin said.
Thus was born Scouts BSA Troop 3125, Crozet’s first all-girl BSA troop. While it’s exciting to be the first, there are drawbacks: “Larger, long-established troops have equipment, tents and funds for the kind of things our girls want to do,” O’Loughlin said. She, Enfield and the troop’s co-leader, Erika Priddy, hope for some like-minded girls and their parents to become involved.
Although Troop 3125 is sponsored by St. Paul’s, it’s non-denominational and welcomes members of all faiths or no faith. Even so, the girls found some Biblical inspiration when they took their troop number from Proverbs, 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness.”
The troop, though small, is growing, and recently held a Halloween fundraiser. Enfield said they can continue to grow, and if anyone is interested, can reach the leaders through the website, sites.google.com/view/vahctroop3125/home.