By Michelle Carpenter
Mar 25, 2017

How Teenage Girls Started Our First Female Jamboree Crew

Utah National Parks Council has never sent a group of girls to Jamboree, but this summer seven teenage girls and two women are about to trek eastward as the council’s first girls crew ever.

The idea began when Hannah Johnston, age fifteen at the time, had a simple conversation with her father. 

“He said ‘Hey, they have a venturing crew. You could come too.’ I said, ‘Really, that’d be awesome.'” Johnston explained. 

She felt elated about Jamboree and wanted to take part in the experience. So, without leaders or a crew and with only one friend to bring along, Johnston registered. Her friend Breanna joined her, excited about the idea of going with her friend, according to Johnston. 

“We didn’t even know if we’d get to go,” said Johnston, explaining that they were hopeful others would sign up. “[But] I knew there were more girls like me.” 

Of course, now the girls faced a large obstacle: finding a Scoutmaster.  Robert Hicken, Breanna’s uncle, approached Kim Gilboy, mother to one of the boys he coached, asking her to take on the responsibility of being over the crew.  

“It’s hard to say no to Robert,” said Gilboy.

She said yes and plowed forward in her new role, encouraging her neighbor and good friend Melissa Felsted to join her as another leader.

“About a year ago, she called me,” said Felsted. “And said, ‘Hey, there’s this opportunity to be part of the first girls crew, and I want you to be by my side.’ [Kim] always goes 110 percent with everything, so I knew this would be a positive experience.”

From person-to-person contact, the crew continued to form. For instance, Katherine Nelson, the crew president, found out about Jamboree by attending a meeting with her brother. She raised her hand saying she wanted to go, and Gilboy reached out and invited her. 

According to Felsted, getting the crew together wasn’t an easy feat. 

It’s always tougher to pioneer than follow someone else’s trail,” she said, explaining that in the future things may get easier as the word permeates about girls attending Jamboree. “They’ve done a great job recruiting amongst themselves.” 

There have been complications along the way, including trying to figure out how to get girls registered when they are not part of a Boy Scout troop and dealing with distance. The girls live hours apart, making the task of building a team emotionally seem a bit more difficult. Despite the troubles, crew members experience enthusiasm for Jamboree and feel firmly that it has all been worth it. 

Gilboy explained that even though the behind-the-scene work is tricky, it’s the girls that remind her of why she is doing this. “We have a really awesome group of young women,” said Gilboy. “They are really mature, independent, self-assured. They are great leaders.”

And despite the distance, the girls grew close to each other with monthly activities, according to Nelson. They went hiking in Slot Canyons over summer, snowshoeing in the winter, and participated in Skype calls with one another.

Now, much of the prep’s taken care of, and the girls are excited to head to Jamboree together this July. They’re also looking forward to the LDS church and American history pre-tour prior to the Jamboree. 

“For me personally, Jamboree sounded cool. But, what sounded cooler was some of the sacred sites [in the pre-tour].” said Gilboy, explaining how these girls are mature and figuring out their testimonies of Christ. “We are challenging them to ask those questions and listen to the Spirit…It’s an opportunity to feel closer to God.”

Nelson said she views this as a crazy, amazing opportunity.  She expressed enthusiasm for traveling, BMX biking at the Jamboree, and the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone. There is one slot still open in the girls crew, and she suggests that if someone is considering going she should. Nelson said she chose not to do things because of fear in the past, and she regretted it.

“Why would you hesitate to do something that only blesses your life?” she said. “Don’t ever sit on the fence about something like this.” 

Together, the first girls crew from our council is not sitting on fences–they’re hiking, snowshoeing, camping, and traveling to the national Jamboree. 

Contact Michelle Carpenter at (801) 437-6222 ext) 1010 if interested in the last opening for the girls crew or to register last minute for any other Jamboree opening.

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Author: Michelle Carpenter | Marketing Associate, Utah National Parks Council

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