After the Girl Scouts of Nassau County announced on April 15 that it would not allow Valley Stream-based troops to attend the village’s annual Camporee this year, Girl Scout Troop 2033 Leader Lisa Burke announced that she was forming an all-girls Scouts BSA troop in the area.
“In an effort to provide the same opportunities that other organizations can’t or won’t provide for today’s young women, I have filled out the New Unit paperwork for our Scouts BSA all-girl troop,” she posted on social media on April 22, adding that the troop’s first event will be the Camporee.
Lisa has been a Girl Scout troop leader for seven years, and a Cub Scout leader for three. She said that she liked certain aspects of both organizations, and was initially against the Boy Scouts of America’s decision to allow girls because she was always able to offer her Girl Scouts the same opportunities. But, she said, GSNC’s decision to bar the Girl Scouts from the Camporee was “a big example of how the Girl Scouts are losing out on opportunities.”
Randell Bynum, the CEO of GSNC, explaining her reasoning behind the organization’s decision, told the Herald that she decided to prohibit the Girl Scouts from attending the annual weekend-long camping event this year to support GSNC’s mission of only serving girls. She also reportedly told Valley Stream troop leaders that the Camporee — which usually attracts more than 400 Boy and Girl Scouts — could not use GSNC or Girl Scouts of the United States of America branding, have trip applications approved or be covered under Girl Scouts insurance.
That decision upset Lisa’s daughter, Gabriella, who created a Change.org petition asking GSNC to reverse its stance. More than 1,000 people have signed the petition as of April 25, but on April 18, Lisa posted that she spoke to Bynum, who she said did not appear to be changing her mind.
That is when Lisa got in contact with Bill Scanlan, the district executive of the BSA for the area, who walked her through the process of creating a troop. He said that in order to create a troop, she needed leadership, a charter organization to sponsor the troop, at least 10 members and to fill out some paperwork.
Scanlan told the Herald that he was willing to help because he wants to expand the scouting program. “We’re all for getting scouting to as many people as we can,” he said. “The more scouts we have, the better it is.”
The girls-only troop will be called Troop 99 in honor of The 99s, an all-female pilot organization that first met in Valley Stream in 1929. “Those women were groundbreakers,” Lisa said. “They were empowered to break the glass ceiling, and hold their own in a world that was then dominated by men.”
Troop 99 will take in girls between the ages of 11 and 18 who were either previously in a co-ed Cub Scout Pack or would like to try scouting for the first time.
So far, Lisa said she has three girls interested in joining the troop, including Gabriella. She said that those girls could continue to be in Girl Scouts, and added that she wants to continue to serve as a Girl Scout leader for her daughter.
Lisa also said that she’s nervous as she’s in “unchartered territory,” and does not “plan on being giant right away.”
But to reach the 10-member requirement, Lisa will be hosting an Open House for any girl that is interested in joining Troop 99 on May 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Holy Name of Mary.