Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - Feb. 2014

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Scouting for all A traditional form of scouting gets a 21st century makeover By GLORIA DARMANIN B oy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts are household names. For many, it's a family tradition and the only scouting they know. However, these organizations aren't the only scouting options available to families. Let me introduce you to the BPSA, a co-ed, all-inclusive scouting group that is making a name for itself right here in the Hudson Valley. BPSA stands for Baden-Powell Service Association. They are an independent and traditional-style scouting association. The BPSA was first formed in the United Kingdom in 1970, and the U.S. association was formed in 2006. The organization is based on the principles and guidelines of the founder of scouting, Robert Baden-Powell. Their aim is "to promote good citizenship and wholesome physical, mental and spiritual development, as well as training in habits of observation, discipline, self-reliance, loyalty, and useful skills." Grisha Yashayev, a Timberwolf with the 91st Sojourners, hikes at the Ashokan Center in Shokan. Local parents are finding the co-ed, all-inclusive scouting group is a great alternative to the popular Boy Scouts of America. 'We had to dig our own latrine!' — Georgia, 11 Kingston husband-and-wife team Andy Bicking and Jenny Lee Fowler have launched the first BPSA group in the Hudson Valley: the 91st Sojourners. "91st" stands for Hudson River Mile 91, Kingston's mile mark on the river. "Sojourners" honors Sojourner Truth. Bicking was an Eagle Scout who wanted to continue scouting with his wife and two children. However, he no longer felt that the Boy Scouts of America was a good fit for his family. What drew them to the BPSA, he says, was the traditional scouting along with the all-inclusive policy. Joining forces with one other family, they began their journey of forming the 91st Sojourners in October of 2012. Within a year, they had grown to 40 members and are going strong. A large part of the appeal of BPSA for many families is that they are welcoming of all, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Carrie Wykoff of Rosendale, mother of 7-year-old Maitreya, says she chose BPSA because of its co-ed practices. "The girls are not relegated to home economic-like experiences," says Wykoff. Since the groups are divided only by age and not gender, the whole family can participate together. Carrie and her husband are both volunteers. BPSA is 100 percent volunteer-based on a local, regional, and national level, which helps keep membership fees minimal. For a group to continue growing and still retain quality, volunteers are crucial players, says Bicking. "As a volunteer, one gets the satisfaction of helping to make their community a better place, watching kids grow and making positive changes in their lives," he says. "We're passing (Continued on Page 26) n Hudson Valley Parent 25

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