Libertyville Boy Scout comforts Condell patients through her artwork
The COVID-19 pandemic has created many hardships. Job loss, pay cuts, need for food and isolation are just a few.
Those in position to help others have been hit with safety restrictions, leaving many organizations reinventing how to operate. Boy Scouts is one of those groups. Indoor gatherings are on hold, so meetings and merit badge classes and presentations are being held virtually. But that is not stopping one Libertyville troop.
In August 2019, an all-girls Boy Scout troop was formed. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Troop 72G in Libertyville, which has six female members, was formed with the help of Dave Davies, former Scoutmaster of the boys' Troop 72. The current Scoutmaster is Shane Cook, who has a son and daughter in Scouting.
Girls can join Troop 72G as long as they have completed fifth grade and are between the ages of 11 and 18. The original boys' Troop 72 was established around 1930 and is chartered by the United Methodist Church in Libertyville.
Currently, all six girls are working on getting their Citizenship in the Community merit badge. The award, which reflects Scouting ideals of "service to the community and also reinforcing their knowledge of their rights and responsibilities to be a productive member of the local community," is needed to reach Eagle rank.
To earn the badge, a Scout researches a local organization and performs eight hours of volunteer service. Elizabeth Franz, 12, is a Troop 72G member who loves art and came up with an idea of how she can use her talent to help others as a way to earn her badge.
"I like to paint and draw, and since there are so many people in hospitals who can't see family because of COVID, Mr. Davies and I thought it would be nice to use the artwork to maybe brighten their day," said Elizabeth, a seventh-grader. "Our family has been lucky, and we think it's important to help others who haven't been."
Working with Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Elizabeth created three pieces of artwork and made 50 laminated prints of each so they can be easily sanitized. Patients, especially those not able to have visitors, are being given the artwork to display in their rooms.
While Elizabeth is sharing her art, other troop members are serving with organizations such as Feed My Starving Children.
Committee chair of Scouting BSA Troop 72G Greg Franz, Elizabeth's father, said the troop's focus beyond community service is on camping and camp-related crafts. They let the Scouts lead the way while leaders provide support.
"We believe that chartering their own course, planning and achieving, and even failing, their goals allows them to experience significant growth in confidence and maturity," Franz said.
"Quality adult leadership is critical to the success of the program, and ours wouldn't be the success that it is without the efforts of Sara Hamilton, our assistant Scoutmaster," Franz said.
Elizabeth agrees. "The leaders are really good. They let us decide what the troop is going to do. When we can get together, we have a lot of fun.
"I really like camping activities and beating the boys at Scouting contests," she said. "We won our troop's 'Chopped' event, where we were all given the same ingredients and we had to make a main meal and a dessert out of it."