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Spotlight: Local Scout Troop 209 for girls forms soon after national program announces change

Being the first to do something new often has its critics. Being the first Boy Scout Troop of girls isn’t any different.

Sixteen months ago, the Boy Scouts of America announced that girls would be allowed to participate in its programs, Scouts BSA was officially launched on Feb. 1, 2018, and soon after, Scouts BSA Troop 209 formed locally. The troop of seven girls meets Wednesday evenings at the Palmerton Rod and Gun Club.

“Some of my family members don’t understand why I want to be a Boy Scout. I tell them it’s something I’m into and it doesn’t matter if they understand or not,” said Emma Emrey, a member of BSA Troop 209.

“We should all be able to do something we love to do,” said Karly Pfaff, another member of the troop.

For these girls, crafts didn’t cut it.

“I wanted to do more outdoor things like fishing, camping, going to summer camps and maybe going to the shooting range,” Pfaff said. “I was always jealous of my brother in Boy Scouts.”

Like Pfaff, Emma Bryfogle’s brother was in Boy Scouts.

“They do a lot. They’re hands-on types of activities and I really wanted to do hands-on activities,” she said. “I’m still in Girl Scouts, because they still do good things.”

BSA Troop 209’s Scoutmaster Alicia Pfaff said she’s excited about leading the girls, but admits she didn’t always feel that way.

“When I first heard about the change, I wasn’t on board,” she said. “I put my son in Boy Scouts, because he’s surrounded by three sisters.”

After he joined the Boy Scouts, she volunteered to help and eventually became an Assistant Scoutmaster for her son’s Troop 209. There are now two Troop 209s, one for the boys and one for the girls.

Pfaff’s son became an Eagle Scout in October, and now all three of her daughters are in it.

“Karly has wanted this since she was little,” Alicia Pfaff said. “She was so mad that her brother could participate but she couldn’t.”

“My goal is to be in the first round of female Eagle Scouts,” Karly Pfaff said.

“I love being a part of this. These girls are so excited,” Alicia Pfaff said. “They all finally feel like they belong somewhere. Now they feel like they finally fit in, and that is everything. Feeling like you belong as a child is everything.”

James Emert, the assistant scoutmaster for the BSA Troop 209 and a longtime member of the Boy Scouts organization, said he fully backs the troop. He knows from experience that his two daughters wanted to join the Boy Scouts when their brother was in it, but couldn’t. Instead, they worked at a Boy Scout camp, and when they got old enough, they joined the Venture Club, which was an offshoot of the Boy Scouts for boys and girls.

“The biggest challenge has got nothing to do with them being girls,” Emert said. “The challenge is it’s a new troop, and all of the culture and all of the experience that comes with an old troop doesn’t exist here. The handing on of knowledge from one Scout to the next doesn’t exist, because there are no existing Scouts.”

Although it’s a challenge, Emert knows these girls will pass down to the girls that come after them everything they learn, and the tradition will begin again.

“I’m very pleased with them so far,” he said. “I think they’re going to be a good group.”

Alicia Pfaff said she is thankful to the Palmerton Rod and Gun Club for their support. The members discussed it and came out on the side to support the troop.

“All of the leadership at the gun club has been very supportive,” she said.

Anyone with a son or daughter who is interested in finding a troop should go to BeAScout.org to find a troop near them. The members of BSA Troop 209 also include Kylie Kuntzman, Kierra Pfaff, Jayleena Pfaff and Sarah Gablick.

Karly Pfaff shows the other girls in BSA Troop 209 one version of tying a knot with some help from the Assistant Scoutmaster James Emert. From left, the girls are Emma Emrey, Emma Bryfogle and Kierra Pfaff.
Emma Bryfogle shows another troop member how to tie a knot at a meeting of BSA Troop 209 at the Palmerton Rod and Gun Club.
BSA Troop 209 members Jayleena Pfaff, Kierra Pfaff and Emma Bryfogle use a chair to practice knot tying at their meeting. Scoutmaster Alicia Pfaff and Assistant Scoutmaster James Emert watch and help where needed. Scouts BSA is the new official name of Boy Scouts of America. KRISTINE PORTER/TIMES NEWS