By Kathy L. Collins
Scouting teaches boys the skills they need to become leaders in their community. One element that does this is the concept of the boy-led troop. Troop 628 is not only a true boy-led troop, but it is also rare in that it has a female Scout Master.
Gina Caldwell of Plant City has been the troop’s Scout Master for two years. Caldwell explained that the boys make all of the decisions about how to run the troop. This includes how and when to raise funds; how and when to spend the funds; what organizations and events they will support; and where they will camp each month.
Caldwell said, “We are truly a boy- led troop. My job is to do the paperwork, keep them on track to earn badges and advance and to keep them safe. I guide them. I don’t lead them. They learn to handle decisions (good and bad).”
Caldwell said, “One time we went camping. They did the grocery shopping. When we got to the campsite, they realized that they did not buy enough eggs. They then had to devise a strategy to come up with an alternative meal plan for the weekend.” Now that is a great example of a boy-led troop.
Troop 628 is an active troop. They have participated in the Great American Clean Up. They camp one time each month except in the summer. They raise money by holding a car wash, selling Yankee Candles and cookies. They also sell hamburgers and hot dogs at the FishHawk Yard Sale. The troop visited the Bing House in Plant City and decided to donate money toward the building’s restoration fund. They also support the United Food Bank of Plant City through an annual food drive. This past Memorial Day they placed flags on Veterans’ graves.
Caldwell said, “We are a small troop, and we are family. It is not always easy, but the boys are committed.” The fact that this troop has four boys who are working toward becoming Eagle Scouts is testament to their commitment to the troop and to Scouting. It does not hurt that they have a fantastic Scout Master in Gina Caldwell.
Troop 628 meets every Thursday at 7:15 p.m. at Grace Community United Methodist Church at FishHawk located at 5708 Lithia Pinecrest Rd. in Lithia. If you would like more information, please call Caldwell at 408-1081.