Scouts troop

Prior Lake’s girls-only Scouts BSA troop marks its first anniversary this month.

Prior Lake’s girls-only Scouts BSA troop has brought its members friendship, new skills and precious time outdoors in its first year, several members and parents said this week.

Troop 7339 started last February with seven girls and now includes 15, said Elissa Aggen, one of a group of parents who helped found the troop.

Since then the girls, most of them around 12 years old, have camped more than 20 nights, learned to chop wood and done several projects for charity and community events like Lakefront Days, among other activities.

“These girls work really hard, and they want to be here,” she said. “There’s so much opportunity to better yourself.”

Several members said their favorite event so far was last year’s summer camp, which brought such classic activities as swimming and team-building. One of the most challenging was the Ripley Rendezvous north of St. Cloud last May, which doused them in cold rain.

“It’s amazing,” Scout Josie M., who asked to use her last initial, said during a troop meeting on Feb. 3 at Twin Oaks Middle School, where the girls huddled to discuss a camping trip that coming weekend. “These are all my best friends.”

The troop came to be after the Boy Scouts of America renamed itself and gradually began allowing girls; those 11 and older have been able to join for a year now.

It’s paired with the all-boys Troop 9339: Both have the Prior Lake Veterans of Foreign Wars as a sponsor, and both typically meet together. Many of the troops’ members are siblings, Aggen said, including her children Cedra and Robert Mushitz.

“They saw their brothers being able to do this amazing program; they wanted a piece of it, too,” Aggen said of the girls. With merit badges and other programs for first aid, personal finances and more, “it gets you ready really to be a productive citizen.”

Aggen credited Amy and Steve Lewison, Dan Evans and James Carter with helping get the troop running. Other Scouts are Ivy Brooks, Madison Burger, Katana and Katrina Coburn, Aria Fahlstrom, Annabelle Hughes, Jenna and Nora Lewison, Emily Malecha, Dee and Brin Picket, and Johanna and Monet Welter.

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