Blog submitted by Troop 288 Leaders Urie Tucker and Bridgette Bock
In conjunction with Troop 288’s efforts to achieve their Bronze Award, our Junior Scouts sought out ways that they could make a difference in their local community and effect positive change. In partnership with the Lake Ronkonkoma Historical Society (LRHS) Museum Curator and President, and with the support of the LRHS Board of Trustees, our girls formed the very first Junior Advisory Council (“Council”) to the LRHS. The mission of the Council was for each of its members to share their perspectives, interests and insight to help raise awareness regarding the LRHS’ efforts to preserve Ronkonkoma’s history and to think about ways that the LRHS could keep history interesting and relevant across generations.
To complete their Bronze Award, the girls drafted a charter for the Council, developed a mission statement, held quarterly meetings, and kept minutes for each meeting. The girls also took turns performing duties such as Council Chairperson and Secretary. The very first action of the Council was to secure signage for two historically significant Town designated landmarks. The first building is the Lake Ronkonkoma Free Library, (LRHS Museum) which was the first library building in Ronkonkoma, established in 1916. The second building is the Fitz-Greene Hallock Homestead, built in 1888. The residence was operated as a boarding house in the summer. The homestead was awarded a federal grant in 2003 as part of the “Save America’s Treasures” program.
The girls’ Bronze Award journey was a long one, albeit rewarding, and nothing less than serendipitous. We found it no small coincidence that the establishment of the Lake Ronkonkoma Free Library and the LRHS, as we know it today, was due to the dedication of two extraordinary and prominent women in the community, Suffragette Helen Devere in the early 1900s, and Ann Farnum Curis in 1976. Further, Fitz-Greene Hallock’s daughters were asked to provide labor in the running of the summer boarding house. Unbeknownst to them, their father saved the boarding house proceeds and used the funds to send them all to college, which was extraordinary for the times! As scouting builds confidence and character and heralds the empowerment of young girls, these examples of women making a difference truly resonated with our Cadette girls!
What the Girls’ Learned On Their Bronze Award Journey
Further, it is interesting to note that while the Council’s mission was to learn about people, places and things that are “old,” the girls’ involvement in this worthy cause gave them exposure to new places, new concepts, new people and most importantly, a new appreciation for the importance of keeping the preservation of one’s history fresh!