WESTFIELD-Joining a scout troop can be equated to being in an extended family, according to members of Scouts BSA Troop 5124.
A membership drive is currently underway for the all-girls troop, ages 11-17, that meets Wednesdays for 90 minutes, beginning at 7 p.m., at the American Legion Post 124, 38 Broad St., according to Scoutmaster Jodie Gaugh.
“Boy Scouts is an amazing program that offers youth all of the skills they need to be good citizens and productive adults,” said Gaugh. “Boy Scouts includes character development, leadership skills, communication skills, planning, service, and career exploration just to name a few.”
Gaugh noted that girls “deserve to have the opportunity” to learn the same skills as boys and be recognized for it.
“There’s nowhere else in the world, no other club or sport that’s as well rounded and offers all that BSA offers,” said Gaugh. “Kids don’t even realize all they are getting out of the program. They just think it’s fun and they get to go on a bunch of outdoor adventures.”
The troop, which was established in 2019, has girls from Westfield, Southampton, and surrounding towns, and offers a variety of activities throughout the year, including camping, cooking, backpacking, paddling and climbing. Additionally, troop leaders focus on life skills, as well as the importance of character, service and friendship.
“The theme for May is rifles with several outings and a campout planned at the Westfield Sportmen’s Club,” said Gaugh. “We will also be attending a week of BSA (Boy Scouts of America) Summer Camp at Horace A. Moses Scout Reservation in Russell.”
Gaugh added the troop is planning a paddling trip in August.
Gaugh is assisted by several adults including Mary Benjamin, assistant scoutmaster; Kurt Wildman, assistant scoutmaster; Cathy Thibodeau, assistant scoutmaster; Lyndsey Brodeur, assistant scoutmaster; Louise Brodeur, committee chair, and Gary Fontaine, executive officer and chartered organization representative.
“All of our direct contact leaders are fully trained and passionate about scouting,” said Gaugh.
The girls are also passionate about being a member of the troop.
“I have been around Scouts BSA my whole life, and saw the wonderful opportunities it gave to the boys, so when they opened Scouts BSA up to girls, I did not hesitate to join,” said Abby Thibodeau, age 16. “Through Scouts BSA, we have fun, but we also become exposed to so many new skills that we would never have been exposed to outside of scouting. Scouts BSA forms friendships for life, and I would never regret joining.”
Thibodeau would encourage other girls to consider joining Troop 5124.
“Our troop is like a family to one another,” said Thibodeau. “We learn together, we have a lot of fun together, and we better prepare ourselves to face the world together. The fundamentals of scouting never disappear from scouts who have aged out, and these scouts continue on to do great things with their lives.”
Lily Gaugh, 13, shared a similar sentiment.
“I joined because you learn so many skills and it seemed like fun,” said Gaugh, adding, “it keeps me busy and I can meet new people from different places.”
Gaugh said she encourages girls to join because of the life skills learned.
“You learn different things and summer camp is one of the best parts,” said Gaugh. “A week with your scouts and you learn so many different things and it’s on your own path.”
Madeline Bresnahan, 12, concurred.
“I joined Boy Scouts because it sounded like a fun activity and to meet new people,” said Bresnahan. “I love to go camping because we are always prepared. The food is so fun to make and we get to do many hands-on activities.”
Bresnahan added she too encourages girls to join the troop.
“Other girls should join our troop because we do so many fun things and get to know each other,” said Bresnahan. “The skills we learn are very important and make us learn new and helpful things.”
Riona Mikell Quesnette, 13, who relishes camping and hiking, also enjoys the camaraderie she shares with other girls.
“I joined because I wanted to do the fun things I saw my older brother from Troop 338 do,” she said. “He’s a big scout role model for me and a couple other scouts. I want other girls to enjoy what I’ve been able to and have fun with boys. Plus, we’re all great friends here!”
Gaugh noted that registration is about $70 a year for each girl.
“It’s prorated so anyone joining now would only have to pay for the time remaining this year,” said Gaugh. “I believe there is also a one time joining fee of $25.”
Gaugh said there are also nominal fees for some activities.
“A scout is thrifty so we do what we can to keep costs at a minimum,” she said.
Scholarships are available and Gaugh noted “money should never be a reason not to join scouts or attend an outing.”
For more information on Troop 5124, send an email to Louise Brodeur at [email protected] or contact Gaugh at (413) 627-7105 or via email to [email protected] For details on Boy Scouts of America, Western Massachusetts Council, visit wmascouting.org. The regional office is located at 1 Arch Road, Suite 5, in Westfield.
“The Scout Oath and Scout Law are not just words that we say,” said Gaugh. “The Scouting program is constantly reinforcing those values. These are values that parallel what I’m teaching my children at home such as being respectful, kind, and helpful.”
Thibodeau echoed those sentiments.
“I enjoy helping out our community the most,” said Thibodeau. “Our troop is very active in the community through service projects and community service, and it’s very rewarding to see the impact that we make on people.”