HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — Following a decision made in October 2017 to allow girls to participate in the ranks of 11 to 17 year-old Boy Scouts for the first time in the 100-plus years of the organization, the Boy Scouts of America are set to launch their Scouts BSA Girls Troop program nationwide on Friday, Feb. 1. This is the first time in the history of the organization that girls will be able to earn Eagle Scout status.
In Mays Landing, a group of 10 girls, led by scoutmaster Scott Ehrlich, has already been preparing for the event for a couple of weeks. Currently, it is the only Scouts BSA Girls Troop in the Sea Pines District.
On Sunday, Jan. 27 the members of Scouts BSA Girls Troop 452 met at the Mays Landing Methodist Church to select patrol names and leaders. The week before, the members participated in the annual Klondike Derby at Egg Harbor City Lake, where they learned first aid techniques, fire building, lashings and other traditional scout projects.
“We learned a lot about what we would be doing,” 15-year-old Isabella Gatto said. “And it was a lot of fun.”
Some of the members have participated in Girl Scout programs. They include 12-year-old Sydney Prince. “I decided to get involved in this because I want to do what the boys do,” she said. “I’m anxious to go camping, go on trips and doing a lot of hard work.”
“This program has the same curriculum as the boys’ program,” Breanna Ehrlich said.
“Nine troop members have signed up for the Merit Badge Academy at Richard Stockton University on Feb. 9,” Ehrlich said. “Isabella also participated in Venture Crew 254, which is a coed program.”
This is Ehrlich’s first scoutmaster position, although he has served as a den leader with Cub Scout Pack 126 for four years and a committee member with Boy Scout Troop 254, also for four years. He serves as a unit commissioner at the district level. A former scout, he earned the rank of Eagle at age 15.
The new troop includes two assistant scoutmasters, Daniel Lykowski, an Eagle Scout from Vineland with Troop 36, and Stephanie Buchanan.
Scouts BSA Girls Troop 452, chartered by First United Methodist Church Mays Landing, is accepting applications from girls and adult volunteers. Contact Ehrlich to sign up at 856-207-2847. They also have a Facebook page at ScoutsBSATroop452.