ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ - “The date of the national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is February 8, 1910. In the summer of 1911 a small group of boys in Atlantic Highlands, having heard of the movement, wanted to become scouts. They came to Miss Helen Brown, daughter of the late Reverend Oliver Brown of Bay View Avenue, and asked her help, which she most readily gave. They met at her house during the fall, and soon came to the point where they wanted to be officially organized as a Boy Scout troop. Miss Brown consequently applied to the headquarters of the movement in New York City for a charter for the troop and a commission for herself as scoutmaster. She was informed that the scoutmaster had to be a man, and so being “only a woman” she would not qualify. Not discouraged at all, Miss Brown set out to find a man to be the scoutmaster and asked Reverend J. H. Schaeffer of the local Presbyterian Church if he would under take the work. Mr. Schaeffer having had something of this sort in his mind, agreed. The official date of the organization of the Atlantic Highlands troop is December 1, 1911, and Mr. Schaeffer’s commission as scoutmaster, of the same date, is number 5,682. The troop has gone on continuously since then with the exception of an interruption of about a year.”
Credit often goes to the men folk who are the traditional leaders in the Boy Scout program, while many women behind the scenes are often the catalysts, the movers and shakers of scouting. Most female scout leaders are overdue for a little well deserved recognition and rightfully so. BSA Troop 22 would not be celebrating its 100th anniversary if it were not for the dedicated efforts of Miss Helen Brown.
Today’s scouting program flourishes because of many women participating in all facets of scouting. Traditionally, we know of women scout leaders responsible for the Tiger and Cub Scout programs, many serving as Den Mothers. Times have changed. There are women now serving as Troop Scoutmasters. Also various leadership positions in both regional and National Boy Scouts of America offices are now staffed by women. Behind the scenes, many mothers of scouts are unselfishly engaged in fund raising, field trip planning and ensuring scouting activities run smoothly.
As a historical reminder, thousands of women worked in America’s factories during World War II building war armaments. A prime example is the battleship New Jersey. If one has the opportunity, consider visiting the New Jersey Battleship museum in Camden. On the hull of the ship, one will see the initials of many women who actually built the steel battlewagon.
To all of the ladies out there, past and present Troop 22 says “thank you” for making the Boy Scouts of America and Troop 22 a success. As the old World War II Rosie the Riveter poster says, the message is very clear- YES WE CAN!
Written by Gerald Thomas with historical input: ”From Indian Trails to Electric Rails" by Thomas H. Leonard, 1923, p 662