Monday, January 16, 2012

The All-Girl Boy Scout Troop

It’s not uncommon for me to be one of the few guys in a group full of girls. I am the only brother to four sisters. I have only daughters. In nearly every writing-related group, the women outnumber the men by roughly ten to one.

And now I’m one of the token men in an all-girl Boy Scout troop.

Venturing is a fairly new program in the Boy Scouts, and allows for all-boy, co-ed, and all-girl crews. Last summer my oldest daughter joined a community-sponsored crew, comprised primarily of young women from our ward. I was asked to be an assistant advisor.

The primary goal of this all-girl Venturing Crew is to participate in a trek at the Philmont Scout Ranch this summer. That means we’ve been doing some camping lately. Lots and lots of camping.

In the last three weeks, we’ve had two separate camping trips in sub-freezing temperatures—one in (marginal) teepees of our own (amateur) construction, and the other in a primitive state park campsite where campfires were not allowed. Cue the heavy coats.

Even though I’m an Eagle Scout, sleeping on the hard ground was never a favorite activity of mine. Add in a few decades of bodily wear, and combine that with the above-mentioned cold (I earned my camping badges in the jungles of Hawaii), and these trips have been a bit lacking in sleep.

However, it’s a challenge that has been more than adequately rewarded. These young women are amazing, and I am honored to associate with them.

Just prior to the New Year, we participated in a Mountain Man Rendezvous with some two-dozen other local scouting groups. There were a couple of co-ed Venture Crews in attendance, but ours was the only group comprised entirely of girls.

And they made an impression.

Part of that impression, of course, was simply because they were girls. But a bigger part was how the girls worked together, encouraging and supporting each other in ways that many of the outpost leaders had never seen before. So although their skills and abilities were often limited, they still managed to sweep a full third of the awards based on attitude and determination alone.

As a writer, I consider myself a student of human nature. That part of me has loved watching the interaction between these girls as they’ve worked through personal challenges and interpersonal conflict. Seeing the growth of these girls as individuals and as a crew has been well worth every cold night spent on the hard ground.

These scouting activities have wreaked havoc on my writing schedule, but in return my writer’s brain has been crammed full experiences and examples that I hope to draw inspiration from for many years to come. It’s proof to me that real life provides the best inspiration of all.


Donna K. Weaver said...

Delightful post, Don. I think it's awesome that the Boy Scouts are letting girls in. The BS program is very different from the GS, and when I was a girl I'd wished they were the same.

Valerie Ipson said...

Love the story! And love the support you are giving those girls!

Renae W. Mackley said...

Way to go, Don! Those girls need you. I'll bet they also come in handy when writing your female characters. Real life IS the best inspiration.

Lynn Parsons said...

Don, you are one AWESOME dad! I have a helmet liner for you . . . like the ones the army uses . . . I'd be happy to send it your way!
Think hat plus face mask....

Cathy said...

What a hoot. I love the pictures. Thanks for the fun post.