Since February of 2019, Scouts BSA has opened their door to accept girls into their troops. The first female Scouts BSA troop local to North Brooklyn was Troop 1G and was linked to long-established Scouts BSA Troop 26. In 2021 Scouts BSA troop 996G was formed, the sister troop to Scouts BSA Troop 996.
In mid-March, two members of Troop 1G, twin sisters Yan Ying (Alison) Zhang and Yan Lin (Selina) Zhang achieved Eagle Scout, a first in Brooklyn. Last November the sisters did their community projects, a necessary element to reach Eagle Scout. Selina’s Eagle Scout project provided a fun and engaging method for the community to learn about first aid at TownSquare’s SchoolFest held at M.S. 126. It was reported that 700 individuals attended last fall’s SchoolFest, so many people benefited from CPR demonstrations, basic first aid demos, etc. offered by Selina’s project. Alison’s Eagle Scout project took place a few days later at FourFiveSix (199 Richardson Street). She created a community workshop to learn about Asian American history, discuss the recent attacks on the Asian American community, and learn about how to support each other at school and in the community.
Troop 996G also has a female contender for Eagle Scout. Kaylee Paneto’s “The Big Meet”, aka her Eagle Scout project, took place on March 26 at McCarren Park. She organized a mental health wellness meet. Her Big Meet had several activities that demonstrated coping tools — some physical like sports and movement activities and some more internal exercises: the Silent Dance where participants put on noise-cancelling headphones that played music curated by Reboot NYC to ease into a connection to the internal emotional life. Project Hope manned a “How Are You Doing” table that offered friendly conversation and referrals, and Girls Inc. provided a mental health lesson on affirmations.
Kaylee Paneto said the inspiration for her project came from her penchant to strive for perfection, which didn’t allow her time to spend on herself. “What happens if I take a day for myself to connect to who I really am. Then when COVID happened, I was wondering how many people are thinking like me. When you are stuck at home, you’re feeling trapped and all the inside things that are buried deep down are coming out now like beasts. While I’m working on myself why not help other people. I feel better when I help other people. Especially if I can put a smile on their face!”
Kaylee comes from a scouting family and was a girl scout early on, but she wanted to do scouting activities of the type her brothers were doing. When Scouts BSA opened up to welcome girls she jumped at the chance to join. First, she was part of Troop 1G, and then helped to form BSA Troop 996G in order to participate in a troop that was closer to where she lived. She had Eagle Scout in her sights from day one, “[Becoming an Eagle Scout] is definitely a goal, and I might want to be a scout master. I saw how scouting actually changed certain aspects of my life, and [I saw] it also changed certain aspects of the rest of the scouts, boy or girl,” said Kaylee.