The face and name of the Boy Scouts of America have seen some dramatic changes recently, and Sanford students, faculty, and parents are playing a role in implementing them in the state of Delaware. With the rebranding of its iconic program’s name to Scouts BSA, the organization opened its membership to include single-gender troops for both boys and girls.
Girls have been eligible to join BSA’s Venture Scouts and Sea Scouts programs for decades. In February 2019, however, BSA expanded its offerings by opening its flagship program to 11–17-year-old girls, thus giving them the same opportunity as boys in Scouting to enjoy a year-round outdoor program and earn the coveted Eagle Scout award.
Sanford faculty members Shannon Helmecki and Jen Nightengale joined long-time Sanford parents Patrick and Catherine Kaser to help establish Troop 1923, which meets at St. Barnabas’ Episcopal Church near Marshallton. Patrick Kaser began working behind the scenes with the Boy Scouts of America Del-Mar-Va Council well in advance of the February 1 establishment of the troop, and he now acts as the troop’s scoutmaster.
The troop’s founding members purposefully selected its number, as that was the year Delaware ratified the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the legal right to vote. “We also felt that the number 1923 would help to reinforce the expectation that Scouts will be active citizens working for positive change for all,” explained Kaser.
Scarlett Helmecki '24 was elected the troop’s first senior patrol leader at a recent camping trip in the Pocono Mountains. Helmecki shared: “I liked Boy Scouts and all the outdoor adventure and camping opportunities that they offer.” Quite a few Sanford girls responded with interest and excitement after learning about the new troop at Sanford’s Health and Wellness Fair in November.
The pioneers of Troop 1923 are a part of the more than 85,000 girls who have joined BSA programs in the last few months. Troop 1923 was recently pictured in a “50 Troops in 50 States” feature published by the organization. Additionally, a National Public Radio (NPR) broadcast showcased the newly established troop. To read the story, visit Delaware Public Media.
The girls in Troop 1923 join Sanford boys who have been actively involved in Scouts BSA. Sanford has benefited from the outdoor classroom recently constructed by Eagle Scout Alistair Bebbington '20 and the improvements to the cross country trail and associated signage on the course provided by Eagle Scout Zach Stevenson '19. Other Sanford Scouts include Charlie Sykora '20 who is working on his Eagle Scout project, Aaron White '20, Greg Fleming '20, Andrew Kedash '22, Andrew Bebbington '23, and Andrew Kaser '25, as well as Lower School students who participate in area Cub Scout packs, which began welcoming girls in September 2018.
Sanford parents Dan White and David Kedash also act as volunteer scout leaders for area boys’ troops.
Sanford appreciates the time commitment, talents, and leadership of all of its young couts. We are pleased to have Sanford girls making scouting history with Troop 1923, and we wish them success with their involvement with Scouts BSA.