Girls make history with former boys-only club
Last updated 3/8/2023 at 5:14pm | View PDF
Therese Moraleda of Hinsdale likely will make history as the first girl to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout with Hinsdale's BSA Troop 10.
Moraleda, a sophomore at Hinsdale Central, joined the 100-year-old troop in September. A former member of Pathfinders, she was recruited by fellow Troop 10 member and good friend Shreemann Patel.
"He told me all about his camping experience and showed me photos," Moraleda said. "I like being outdoors, and I have been camping before, but I didn't really get to do my own thing. I went 'glamping.' I never built a fire or anything like that. I really wanted to get that outdoor experience."
Since 2019, Boy Scouts of America has allowed girls to join Boy Scouts, with Troop 10 extending the invitation to girls in November 2022.
"I knew I wouldn't really have another opportunity like this," said Moraleda, who is the troop's senior patrol leader. "It's provided me opportunities to try something new and go out and do things that you wouldn't really get to do in the suburbs of Hinsdale."
Moraleda, Central sophomore Sofiya Qazi and seventh-grader Karthika Palli already made history as the troop's first females to participate in the Tall Grass District Klondike competition Jan. 28.
"It kind of was empowering," Moraleda said. "It felt nice to learn some skills like fire making, knot tying, learning to use a compass."
Building a fire strong enough to boil a can of water was tricky, she acknowledged.
"Fire is iffy," she said. "We spilled our cups twice because we didn't have the right base. We got it in the end, luckily, before the 10 or 15 minute mark."
The girls had practiced ahead of time, but conditions at the camp were a little more challenging.
"Doing it in the snow and the cold with the clock running was really stressful, especially within that time limit of getting the water to boil," she said.
Troop 10G Scoutmaster Akhila Palli (Karthika's aunt) has been involved with Boy Scouts for about eight years, since her older son crossed over from Cub Scouts. She is thrilled to see girls have the opportunity to participate in a program focused on leadership, personal development, character development and service.
"It's amazing across the whole country what the Scouting movement has to offer," Palli said. "It seems criminal that it wouldn't be offered to girls. Having discrimination based on gender doesn't make sense.
Troop 10 started talking about inviting girls to join soon after the national organization announced the change. They decided to operate linked troops, called 10B and 10G.
"We wanted to keep it that way so they have a greater sense of unity," Palli said. "The girls, I think, were really excited to be part of something that had a 100-year history."
She said the girls in the troop are very focused and driven.
"I think they are very aware of this opportunity that they have in front of them. They want to make the most of it, and that has been very engaging and refreshing for me," Palli said.
Moraleda, who is working to become a Tenderfoot, said she has planning meeting next week to talk about the pathway to become an Eagle Scout. As she works toward the scout's highest rank, she hopes to see more girls get involved with the troop.
"We just need more girls to come. The bigger the better," she said.
She noted she was hesitant at first to join.
"It was just a group of boys messing around - that's what I saw from the outside," she said.
But she has discovered so much more.
"You won't really get this anywhere else," she said.
The troop is holding an open house for interested boys and girls March 16 at Union Church of Hinsdale. For more information, read the calendar listing on Page 22 or visit the troop's website at https://bit.ly/Troop10Hinsdale.
- Pamela Lannom is editor of The Hinsdalean. Readers can email her at [email protected].