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Meet the local girls in Boy Scouts Troop 713

Boy Scout Troop 713G
Boy Scout Troop 713G: Yafa El-Saidany, Sarah Stoll, Quin Peters, Arden Sur, Trinity Ludena, Maddy Snodgrass, Monica Mak, Haidyn McKenzie, Syndey Tsai, Baylin Tsai and Peyton McKenzie.
(Karen Billing)

The young women of Boy Scouts Troop 713 are making their presence known: Yes, girls can be Boy Scouts and they are proving they can take on any challenge, learn, excel and lead. For the past two years since Boy Scouts of America began welcoming female members, the girls have been earning badges, working their way through the ranks and experiencing outdoor adventures like rock climbing, scuba diving in Catalina, canoeing the Colorado River, a 65-mile trek through the High Sierras and perfecting their camping skills.

These local girls are taking advantage of the chance to grow, be their best selves and live life outside.

“You learn a lot of important lessons and lots of important life skills and get a lot of unique opportunities,” said Scout Sarah Stoll, who loves being outdoors and said the coolest thing is getting to see all the stars at night when they are camping.

Currently there are 34,693 young women in Boy Scouts of America and in the past year there has been about 14% growth, according to Anil Bhalla, Troop 713’s membership committee chair.

The local Boy Scouts Troop 713 has been around for 67 years—the Del Mar Rotary is their charter organization. Troop 713 added their first six girls by May 2019 and have steadily grown in numbers—there are currently over 20 young women among the troop’s total of 70 Scouts.

Arden Sur rock climbing at Joshua Tree.
Arden Sur rock climbing at Joshua Tree.

(Anil Bhalla)

The Scouts range in age from 11 to 17, representing local schools such as Notre Dame Academy, Canyon Crest Academy, Torrey Pines High School, Santa Fe Christian, Pacific Trails and Carmel Valley Middle Schools.

Scout Maddy Snodgrass said when they opened Boy Scouts up to girls she jumped at the chance to join—“A lot of the activities appealed to me and were more geared to my personality,” she said. Troop members Quin Peters and Arden Sur were similarly drawn to the “outdoor stuff”—the rock climbing, canoeing, mountain biking and camping.

Many girls, like Haidyn McKenzie and her twin sister Peyton, had seen the cool things that their brothers got to do in Scouts and tagged along to enough events and activities that they knew it was something they wanted to be a part of.

Haidyn likes that scouting gives her a pathway to achieve a lot of her goals and to feel empowered to take on things that some people believed that girls could not do: “Girls can do anything and maybe even better than boys.”

The Scouts go on monthly campouts, complete required community service hours and work to achieve ranks.

Quin Peters, Trinity Ludena, Monica Mak, and Peyton McKenzie camping at Emerald Bay.
Quin Peters, Trinity Ludena, Monica Mak, and Peyton McKenzie camping at Emerald Bay.
(Anil Bhalla)

The Eagle rank is the highest award and by February 2021, nearly 1,000 young women from across the country became the first female Eagle Scouts after collectively earning more than 30,000 merit badges and an estimated 130,000 hours of community service, even during a pandemic, Bhalla said.

All of the girls polled in Troop 713 said they are gunning for the Eagle Scout honor.

There are over 135 merit badges to earn in a variety of topics and the troop decides what they pursue—be it outdoor skills, first aid, fishing, citizenship, fitness or life skills, “There are lots of badges and endless possibilities,” Haidyn said.

Scoutmaster Kevin Deters, who has led the troop for the past five years, said the mission of Scouts is all about leadership.

“What comes out of this program are the most amazing, well-balanced kids,” he said, noting that Scouts leave with great leadership skills with an appreciation for community service and the outdoors, prepared to tackle college, careers and adulthoods.

Both Deters and Bhalla had sons in Boy Scouts and have been impressed by the camaraderie and skills of the young women who have joined the troop.

Currently, Peyton is the patrol leader and Maddy is the assistant patrol leader— the positions change every six months to allow for more opportunities to lead. When the troop meets up or goes on activities and campouts, Deters and the other adults stand aside and lets the girls take complete charge.

Group leaders plan all of their own activities, decide where they want to go and come up with ways to make it happen through fundraising like popcorn sales and wreaths during the holidays. They work together as a team to solve any problems they face: “We are all friends, we are all kind and welcoming,” Boy Scout Monica Mak said.

The troop’s newest member is Yafa El-Saidany, a seventh grader at Pacific Trails Middle School, who has never been camping before and can’t wait to go on her first trip.

Lofty plans for this year include camping at Palomar, beach camping, desert camping in Borrego Springs, snow camping, rafting trip, mountain biking and watersports at Fiesta Island. The Scouts want to take trips to Joshua Tree and Yosemite. Next summer they hope to take on BSA High Adventure Camps like snorkeling in Florida, hiking Bechtel in West Virginia or hiking Philmont in New Mexico.

To prep for the summer’s BSA High Adventure Camp Northern Tier in Minnesota, the girls did challenging hikes around the county like Potato Chip Rock and Black Mountain: “It’s really difficult because we have to carry a lot of weight on our backs to train,” Syndey said.

Bhalla said his hope is for more girls to realize that Boy Scouts is an option open to them because many just don’t know.

“It’s a really good opportunity to get out there and get out of your comfort level and it’s really fun to meet people,” Baylin Tsai said as her message to any girl wondering if Boy Scouts is right for them. “You should definitely try it.”

To learn more about Boy Scouts Troop 713, contact Mickey Stoll at mstoll01@gmail.com.

Sarah Stoll, Baylin Tsai, Lauren Oei, Sydney Tsai, Lucia Dunayevich preparing to leave for Emerald Bay Summer Camp.
Sarah Stoll, Baylin Tsai, Lauren Oei, Sydney Tsai, Lucia Dunayevich preparing to leave for Emerald Bay Summer Camp.

(Anil Bhalla)


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