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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

This is Troop 166B and Troop 166G

By Jennifer Ersalesi

Where once there was only one Scouts Troop available to Rutherford, there are now two: Troop 166B (boys) and Troop 166G (girls) that are each actively involved in the community. Both troops are part of Scouts BSA (formerly Boy Scouts of America) as of January 2018. This is Rutherford spoke with Nino Masullo, Scoutmaster for Troop 166B and Ginny Coleman, Scoutmaster of Troop 166G.

TIR: How long have you been involved in the Boy Scouts in Rutherford ? Which roles have you played within Scouts?

Nino Masullo: I’ve been involved in scouting since my son came home from his First Grade class at Washington School with a flyer about joining the Cub Scouts. He joined and so did I. He’s now in tenth grade and I’m still involved, so that makes nine years. I started as an observant parent but was quickly recruited by then Cubmaster Rick Inguanti (“It’s only an hour a week!!”) to become a Den Leader with Cub Scout Pack 168. After three years as a Den Leader, I became Cubmaster of Pack 168 for another three years and then jumped to Troop 166 as Scoutmaster, where I’m now beginning my fourth season.

Ginny Bowers Coleman: Our family has been involved in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts in Rutherford since 2009. We joined Rutherford Cub Scout Pack 168 when my son entered first grade and I became a den leader a year later. It was a great group of scouts and parents, many of whom we still see! With two boys in the program, I’ve volunteered as: Blue and Gold Chair, Den Leader, Cubmaster, Merit Badge Counselor, and Scoutmaster. My husband, Paul Allshouse, runs support and is the Treasurer for the female Troop 166. I‘ve been Cubmaster the last 3 years and have a lot of fun with my boys and all the families. This past April I was privileged to help form Rutherford’s first female Scouts BSA Troop.

TIR: Why was it important you to become involved with the Boy Scouts of America?

NM: At first, my involvement centered around seeing my son through the scouting ranks, but after a few short months it became apparent there was, and still is, much more to it than that. Leading, teaching, learning – it’s a two-way relationship between scout and leader – the boys learn from me and I learn from them – we all grow.

GBC: I was a Girl Scout, earned my silver award, but saw how much fun my brother and parents had with the Boy Scout program. In middle school we created an Explorer post, a co-ed group of 14-18 year olds, and did high adventure activities. Growing up in the military, we moved a lot, but I could always find friends in Scouts. I never thought about being a troop leader until a Scout mentioned that I’d be a good fit as Scoutmaster. I mulled that over before the opportunity arose. That’s my touchstone, I strive to live up to their expectations.

TIR: How old are the children involved in Troop 166B and Troop 166G?

NM: All scouts in the program are from 6th through 12th grades, roughly ages 11 to 18. At 18 a scout “ages out” and can become an adult leader. Given this age range it can become quite challenging as Scoutmaster, especially keeping all of them interested, involved and focused. Additionally, they advance through the ranks (Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life and Eagle) at different rates so there is no direct relationship between rank and age.

GBC: We have separate troops for male and female scouts. Currently, we have seven girls between 11-13 years old.

TIR: What are your goals for your Troop 166B?

NM: It is my belief that embedded in each boy is the ability to lead and teach others. My goal is to develop this quality and bring it to the forefront of each scout. This leadership quality will help the scouts as they navigate through high school, college, trade or career.

Another goal is to teach scouts responsibility. Young scouts, fresh from graduating to Scouts BSA from Cub Scouts, need to understand the principles of responsibility. No longer should the scout rely on their parents to guide them through the program as they did in the Cub Scouts. When they’re Scouts BSA, we encourage parents to “keep their distance”; if the scout falters on his own, he’ll learn from that and make corrections the next time.

These two main goals also allow adult leaders to encourage the scouts to lead themselves. They are responsible for planning troop meetings, setting agendas and training others, with assistance and coaching from the adult leaders.

TIR: What are your goals for your Troop 166G?

GBC: I expect our Scouts to learn leadership by practicing it. We provide a safe place to fail and encouragement for successes. The Scouts set the troop’s goals and their personal goals. Since April, I’ve wanted them to get to know each other, go camping, earn some badges, but above all, get comfortable with themselves and the idea that they have choices. They have grown from waiting for instructions from me and the other leaders to starting the flag ceremony on their own and planning outings. They have learned to listen and value each other, all while having fun!

TIR: What are some of the community service projects in which your Troops have participated?

NM: Some of the service opportunities the Scouts are involved with are Rutherford’s annual town-wide cleanup, weeding and cleanup at the Rutherford Community Garden, participation in the Memorial Day, Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day parades, and assisting veterans at the VFW post and many others.

GC: Our girls participated this month with the Hackensack Riverkeepers for the annual Oradell Reservoir Cleanup clean up with other Rutherford scouts. Together we hauled over 2,000 pounds of trash out of the reservoir and off the shoreline. Our combined Troops have also participated in local community events such as Flag Day, 9/11 Memorial and the upcoming Veterans Day.

TIR: What do your troops have planned for this year?

NM: In addition to the scouts advancing through their ranks by completing their rank requirements and earning merit badges, the troop usually plans at least one outing per month. Some of the events we have planned for this program year are weekend camping at Camp Alpine, backpacking in Harriman State Park, attending a local council “Fright Night” weekend in October, a long-weekend trip to Gettysburg, and winter cabin camping.

GBC: Our female Troop just completed an intensive leadership course, hiked a section of the Appalachian Trail, held their first camping trip this September, went horseback riding, and are attending an October “Camperee” where they will shoot rifles, participate in archery and go zip lining. They plan to hold a camping trip each month and have selected some Merit Badges they wish to achieve.

TIR: When was the decision to create a Troop with girls made? How has this benefitted the program?

NM: BSA rules were changed to allow girls into the Scouting program in January of 2018. Troop 166G was created shortly thereafter. Additionally, the name “Boy Scouts” has been retired. We are now known as “Scouts BSA”.

GBC: The Boy Scouts of America elected to allow girls into Cub Scouts in 2018 and 13 girls joined our Pack that year. On February 1, 2019, older girls were allowed to join the Boy Scout program, since renamed Scouts BSA. Locally, we formed the female troop in April of this year, when a Scout aged out of the Cub Scout program and was eligible to move into the troop level.

Following BSA’s guidelines, girls could not join the same Troop as boys, but with the support of current leadership, our charter organization (St. John’s Lutheran church), and supportive parents, we were able to initiate Rutherford‘s first female Scouts BSA Troop. Our leadership team has a lot of experience to draw on, both in terms of Scouting and life experiences.

TIR: Why do you feel it is beneficial for both boys and girls to be involved in Scouts?

NM: Having both boys and girls in scouting is not new. Venture Crews (males or females who are at least 14 but not yet 21) have been co-ed since 1998. Given that experience, the BSA has opened the younger programs to girls. Right now, BSA rules state that boys and girls be in separate troops, however, hopefully soon, they will be able to combine the troops in true co-ed fashion. I think that’s when the real benefit will kick in: scouts working, learning and growing together, regardless of gender!

GBC: The Scouts BSA program promotes personal growth, a sense of community, responsibility, and offers leadership through a diverse and challenging program. These ideals are not limited to a single gender.

Boys and girls may develop differently than each other and not all children experience things the same way. Scouts isn’t a game you win or a grade you are given. It is the journey and the individual has a lot to say about where they go.

The mother of a Scout shared, “She’s been waiting for something like this! She’s so excited to go to the meetings. She loves it!” Being able to offer that experience to all youth is important to me.

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