Over winter break, three Scouts BSA Girl Troops from three Pennsylvania Councils (Northeastern PA, Minsi, and PA Dutch) set out on one adventure together to Washington, DC. The Scoutmasters from these units had met and wanted to find a way for their Scouts to not only experience the wonders of DC, but also to learn about the Women’s Suffragette Movement, as 2020 is the 100th anniversary of women having the right to vote in the United States. The troops also combined resources to work on the Scouting Heritage and American Heritage Merit Badges, along with the Baden-Powell Hike Medal, which follows the path of the 1913 Suffrage parade.
Troop 82 from Lancaster offered to host Troop 519 from Allentown (Minsi Council) and Troop 2619 from Paupack, PA (Northeastern PA Council) overnight on the day before and after the DC trip to make the trip possible and to avoid high costs. Friday night, the two troops that had traveled to Lancaster were greeted with a taco bar dinner, followed by an evening of merit badge classwork in preparation for the hike. It was a bit crowded sleeping and eating in the church with about 40 leaders and Scouts tucked everywhere, but everyone had a wonderful time. The scouts woke up long before dawn, ate a ‘grab and go’ breakfast and left for their destination. Many of the scouts on this trip had never been to a big city, so they were all very enthusiastic upon seeing the Capitol Building in the distance as the sun was rising over DC.
Their journey covered over 7 miles, walking in the footsteps of the early 1900s’ suffragettes. They began the trek at the Peace Memorial, and visited the Naval Memorial, the Benjamin Franklin statue outside the Old Post Office, the Vietnam Memorial Wall, and the Boy Scouts of America Memorial. Their group then headed to the Lincoln Memorial, where a park ranger gave them a personal tour. They learned about the Gettysburg Address, which is on the left side of the statue, and Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which is on the right. After that, they took a trolley bus ride back to Capitol Hill and ate their packed lunches in a beautiful grassy spot overlooking the Library of Congress. After lunch, they proceeded to their final destination, the Capitol Building.
The Scouts learned that the Capitol Building sits higher in elevation than the White House, as the town planners wanted to reinforce the idea that the voice of the people was more important than the president’s voice. Inside the Capitol Building, a special tour was provided to the Scouts called the “Votes for Women” that focused on the efforts of famous American women who worked hard to get the 19th Amendment passed. Scoutmaster Natalia Lyckowski from Troop 2619 reflected on the similarities between the brave women who struggled for the Right to Vote and the BSA girls that were present, stating, “Stand proud, Scouts; you’re all trailblazers!” Before they headed back to PA, a small Court of Honor was held on the steps of the Capitol.
Lalina Van Gorden, SPL Troop 2619, shared, “This trip meant a lot to me because I might not have been able to ever go to DC and have this incredible experience if I wasn’t in Scouts BSA. I also want to thank all the leaders that helped make this trip possible, especially Mrs. Erin Blank, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster Lyndsey Nedrow, and Mr. Mike Nedrow (Troop 82 and Venture Crew 82) and my Scoutmaster Mrs. Natalia Lyckowski and Assistant Scoutmaster Casey Waldie
from Troop 2619.”