- Brady Woodhouse
Sophie Schell and Her All-Girls Boy Scout Troop
Sophie Schell after receiving the Hartzog Youth Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service at the Department of the Interior / Credits: Sophie Schell
You’ve probably heard of Boy Scouts collecting merit badges for learning how to interact positively with nature. What you might not have known is that some of these troops have girls.
Sophie Schell, a sophomore at Walls, has made inspiring contributions to her Boy Scouts troop. In the sixth grade, Schell joined Boy Scouts of America and was a founding member of Troop 248, an all-girl troop in the DC area. Schell was unafraid to join this male-dominated atmosphere, and provided opportunities for other girls to join in as well. Schell is key in the accessibility of Boy Scouts to girls in the DMV.
Becoming a Scout is a valuable experience, and should not be limited to boys, Schell said, explaining, “The countless friendships and beloved mentors that I met and had the opportunity to work with in Troop 248 pushed me to be the best version of myself.”
Within her time as a Boy Scout she has held the roles of patrol leader, quartermaster, troop guide, and one of the highest ranks, Eagle Scout. “My work with Troop 248 pushed me to be the best version of myself and eventually achieve the rank of Eagle Scout,” Schell said. This rank requires years of dedicated work and careful review from the Boy Scouts of America. Not only was Schell the first woman to achieve this in D.C., but she achieved it at age 13. This journey on average takes Scouts to the age of 17, according to Scouting Magazine.
Later in her Scouting career, Schell was voted as Lodge Chief, Order of the Arrow. “I was honored to be voted as the youth leader for 3,500-plus Scouts in the honors society of Scouting,” Schell said about the role. “The
Scouts in our lodge represent D.C., Maryland, Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. I was the first female to be voted into this role.”
Schell has big shoes to fill. “My responsibilities are to serve the Scouts in our lodge, chair the executive committee, appoint people to empty positions, work to ensure that our yearly events run smoothly, and serve on the council executive board,” Schell listed. This leadership sounds like a lot of responsibility, but she said she was “sincerely enjoying it.”
Schell has not only had fun with her role, but has focused on making important change and progress in her community. In conjunction with the Ward 8 Woods Conservancy, Schell led her Eagle Scout project, in which she and over 100 volunteers dedicated more than 480 hours to revitalizing the George Washington Carver Trail in Anacostia. Schell filled the much needed role to upkeep the trail. “Historically, this trail had lacked a lot of maintenance and so it was very fulfilling to see what a difference such dedicated volunteers could make,” Shell said. Through her work, she has enabled countless D.C. residents to further experience nature, something especially important in a big city.
For this work, Schell was the recipient of the 2021 George and Helen Hartzog Youth Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service, recognized as the most outstanding volunteer contribution among a pool of 300,000 nationwide. Schell said that she was “a Girl Scout for 6 years,” but that she realized that “the program was very dependent on adult leadership.”
Schell elaborated: “We rarely participated in activities, and there was less opportunity for youth leadership in Girl Scouts. I joined Boy Scouts because it’s a youth-led organization with an emphasis on using the outdoors as a classroom for leadership and growth.” With all this considered, Schell said that “it’s only fair that young girls get to experience Boy Scouts.”
With her national recognition, Schell is inspiring to members of the Walls community. Her contributions as a Boy Scout set a model for Walls students, and we’re excited to see what she does with her next few years here.