By Michael Giuliano
The Scouts BSA Troop 164 held a Court of Honor March 16 at Mildred E. Strang Middle School. While there was the routine dispensation of well-earned merit badges for troops, the ceremony was groundbreaking in another way as it officially welcomed the first female troops in Yorktown’s history into its organization.
“This is an extraordinary day for our troop and our town,” Scoutmaster Tom Marron said. “We have welcomed these awesome young women into our sister troop, Scouts BSA Troop 164.”
Thirteen girls admitted to Troop 164 performed their first flag ceremony at the middle school, proudly displaying the American flag along with the Troop flag before. After a new inductee recited the BSA oath, everybody sat while the 23 merit badges, ranging in subjects from music to citizenship in the community, were handed out amongst the male troops. Having just joined, no female troops were eligible for advancement badges. Still, many were just happy to have them be in attendance.
“This was their first flag ceremony, so it’s a learning opportunity for them,” said Kelly Cignarella, the Advancement Chair from Troop 164. “They learn, and then they teach others, learn more, teach more, and so on.”
Since 2017, when the Boy Scouts of America organization voted to allow girls to become members, the path for female troops has been slow and steady. Last September, girls were allowed to openly join the Cub Scouts, the Scouting program geared towards elementary school children. Now, as of February 1, girls aged 11-17 may be admitted to Scouts BSA, which is the rebranded name for the traditional “Boy Scouts” organization. The decision was geared towards families with male and female children, who wanted to share scouting experiences.
Yorktown Supervisor Ilan Gilbert was in attendance for the ceremony, and gave a few words of encouragement for the new scouts.
“You young Yorktowners represent what is best in our community,” Gilbert said. “To do all of this at such a young age is a remarkable thing, and best of all you’re doing it while you’re having fun.”
In his closing words for the evening, Scoutmaster Marron sounded optimistic in his hopes for the future of Troop 164, calling on its members to do their best to adhere to the Scout teachings throughout their life.
“The newspaper on November 20th, 1863, the day after Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg, said only that the president spoke a few words,” Marron recalled. “But who now can read those few words and not walk away inspired? We don’t always know the impact of every choice or every word, but if we keep trying to be better, to do better, to live by the Scout law, then the path we here begin will be a bright and shining adventure that scouts will follow for generations to come.”
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