|The piece below appeared in a weekly
newspaper in 1976. The modern rule of Girl Scouts U.S.A.
is that men leaders are not allowed. There is, however,
an organization with historical ties to Boy Scouts of
America that would allow a dad to lead an all girls'
group. Check Camp Fire USA.
A dozen six-to-eight-year-olds gather in a home in eastern Oak Park and crowd around their Brownie leader, asking for crayons, cookies, attention, and answers. The object of their attention is a young mother, right?
Wrong. It's a young father who is their leader, and he sees no reason people should be surprised to find a man as a Brownie leader for a troop of young girls.
"Any individual should be able to grow without the constraints of roles that society wants to place on a person," he says.
He began as leader of Troop 60 when his wife could not find a leader for the troop. His wife is the Girl Scout coordinator for their neighborhood school.
"I knew the Brownie program," he says. "One of my daughters was in it, and I knew how much she enjoyed it so I hated to see any kids not be able to be in such a program." His daughter is not in his troop.
He says the children might have been a bit apprehensive when he began as a leader, "but no more so than with any new leader."
"Some men I know have asked why I'm not with a Boy Scout troop," he says. "I might have considered it if I had been aware of a specific need, but I wasn't, and now that I'm into this, I wouldn't give it up."
Since becoming the troop leader, his Brownies have bobbed for apples, told ghost stories, sung Christmas carols in a nursing home, visited a fire department, made arts and crafts projects, made Christmas and Thanksgiving decorations, and had a visit from a student nurse.
"Every week's an experience unique and rewarding for me," he says. It's like a weekly fill-up at the faith center."
There are 14 girls in the troop, and he says there are usually that many conversations going on. "They've all got something important to say, and what they're saying is important to them. They need the recognition."
He tells of the Christmas present one of his Brownies brought him: "But before she showed it to me, she asked, 'Do you have all of your teeth?' I said I did, and she said, 'Good! Then here's your present.' It was a toothbrush that she'd bought with her own money."
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