Unit Spotlight: Troop 502G

New Troop 502 begins with international Scouts

   Seeing a need for girls in Pack 502 to continue their Scouting journey, Julia Chernyshevs started Troop 502, chartered by Carolina Fire. The troop has proven to be one of the most international groups in the area with families from Russia, Haiti, Ukraine, China, Kazakhstan, India, Peru and from throughout America. With the encouragement of the leaders, Scouts overcome language barriers and work together to learn different tasks, enjoy outings and support each other. By providing an environment where they can be comfortable with their diversity, the Scouts’ confidence has increased. 

1. How did you get involved in Scouts? One month after I arrived in the United States, my daughter brought a Cub Scouts flier home from school. I was wondering how to help my family to adapt and integrate quickly into American culture and life. Online, I read enthusiastic reviews and gratitude from other immigrant parents recently arrived to America and the results their children are getting in BSA programs, regardless of their background. The Scout leader at the informational meeting was so excited about Scouting and patient with my bad English that I decided my daughter should give it a try.

2. What did you think scouts was prior to joining? In my home country, Scouting is almost 100% a service organization which emphasizes “help other people at all times” and “do a good turn daily”. I thought it would be the same here, but with American values and ideals.

…and after? Our dens were small and everyone was new to Scouting. Most had never spent a night in a tent or slept outdoors. I was asked to be a den leader, and I said no three times because I worried about my ability to communicate. But then, I decided to volunteer and with other new leaders took BSA online and outdoors training, which made me confident. Pack 502 has one outing and a new theme every month: Camping and Being Outdoors and First Aid & Safety in the fall; Citizenship, Duty to God & Reverence in winter, and Scout Skills & Nature and Physical Fitness in the spring. BSA teaches children how to be responsible citizens in a country where laws may differ significantly from their countries of origin. Through adventures, the pinewood derby, Cub-o-rees, Scout Sunday and community service projects like scouting for food and Memorial Day flag placement, visiting museums, and traveling with the den and pack, the children immerse themselves in American culture and history while retaining their own identities. I’ve noticed that the ideals of the Scout Law and Scout Oath are becoming part of the thinking and character of my daughters and her scouting friends. And mine too. 

3. What was the process like with starting Troop 502G? Girls from Pack 502 want to keep Scouting together and older sisters of 502 Scouts want to join Scouts BSA. A modest recruiting effort showed that there is also interest from the community. Carolina Fire, our chartered organization said yes and 502 boys’ troop and committee said they would support 502G if we have our own advancement and finance chairs. We filed the paperwork and applications and had our PIN in about a month.

4. What are the girls most excited about in Scouts BSA? The girls like opportunities to do fun things and meet new friends. Several girls completed the Introduction to Leadership Skills for Troops training on Crossover weekend and are excited about planning and leading meetings and activities. They like that the handbook has clear requirements for rank advancement and were happy to see some pre-done meeting plans in BSA’s 48 program features.

5. The 502 units have some of the most diverse rosters in MCC, what are some of the countries or regions that your scouts come from? We have families from Russia, Haiti, Ukraine, China, Kazakhstan, India, Peru and from throughout America. New immigrants face a language barrier, but 502 leaders foster an environment where mistakes in speech are not ridiculed, so it is normal to hear Scouts and leaders interpreting instructions or questions and discussing tasks in different languages and then speaking English when able. Involving and encouraging parents from different countries as volunteers serves as an example to the children, showing them that there is no need to fear communication. This helps children feel confident. Also, BSA's inclusive approach to discussing religion and emphasis that Duty to God is an individual belief, makes the program unique and accessible to all.

6. Have the girls been planning any big trips? If so, where do they want to go? The girls are having their planning and calendar meetings in May, so we will find out soon!