Brooklyn’s First Female Life Scouts

(l to r) Town Square Exec. Dir. Susan Anderson, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher BSA Life Scout Selina Zhang, BSA Life Scout Alison Zhang, St. Nicks Alliance Youth and Education Dir. Debra Sue Lorenzen, local Greenpoint business owner Nancy Hernandez Photo Credit: Troop26bk_nyc Instagram

Scouts BSA’s Life Scout is the level achieved before Eagle Scout and is a mighty accomplishment in and of itself.  One has to show commitment, leadership, mentorship, in addition to earning a specified quota of merit badges. 

Recently, tenth-graders Selina and Alison Zhang of Troop 1G — Scout BSA’s first girls’ troop in Brooklyn (hence the unit number 1) — reached the level of Life Scout, also a female first!  Selina and Alison joined the troop in October 2019, after learning about Scouts BSA at Town Square BK’s Schoolfest that same year.  Their next goal is to become Brooklyn’s first female Eagle Scouts.

The scoutmaster for Troop 1G is Elisa Stevani, a full-time teacher and an applied behavior analyst.  Notwithstanding her busy schedule, she decided to become a leader for the troop after seeing the great impact scouting has had on her son, “How it changed the way he talked to others and the world around him and how he developed academic skills, self-confidence, ethics, leadership and citizenship skills that will influence his adult life. I simply wanted the same for my daughter,” she said. “Every time I see a scout mastering a skill or achieving a goal they didn’t think they could achieve just a short time earlier, I’m reminded of why I keep volunteering my time for the Troop. To encourage young people to become positive leaders who recognize the needs of others and take action accordingly,” said Stevani.

Town Square BK is the troop’s chartered organization and Executive Director Susan Anderson serves as the institutional head, chartered organization representative, and committee chair for Troop 1G. “The path from Life to Eagle requires serving 6 months as an active scout, 6 months in a leadership position in the troop, service hours, and the completion of an Eagle project. Stay tuned to learn what they plan to do for their Eagle projects in 6 months to see where they stand with this goal,” said Anderson,

“These local young women were smart, ambitious, adventurous trailblazers, who had each earned an incredible 90 badges and advanced from first day to this level in under two years.  Pretty incredible,” said Debra Sue Lorenzen, St. Nicks Alliance Youth and Education Dir., who served on the Boy Scouts of America Board of Review along with Assembly Member Emily Gallagher.

Assembly Member Gallagher tweeted, Selena and Alison founded Troop 1G—the first female BSA unit (formerly Boy Scouts of America) in Brooklyn! Last night I had the honor to serve on the review board to advance them to Life Rank. I’m so impressed by their leadership. Thank you for inviting me, @TownSquareBK!”

Troop 1G began with three members in 2019 and currently has twenty-one members.  As the last 18 months has been a struggle due to COVID-19 challenges this shows how strong the interest is from young women.  Stevani said, “Becoming member of our troop is a very simple yet not easy task. Any female aged 10.5 to 17 can join, but it is up to the scout to show that they are an active member of the troop by living by the scout oath and law (https://www.scouting.org/about/faq/question10/). Additionally, to advance in rank, every scout has to demonstrate leadership skills and abilities by teaching other scouts skills and helping them advance as well.”

Author: Lori Ann Doyon

Managing editor, head writer, and lead photographer of Greenline | North Brooklyn News since October 2014. Resident of Williamsburg, Brooklyn since 1990.

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