International Scout Troop Giving Girls New Opportunities

Aug 26, 2019, 9:38 PM | Updated: Aug 27, 2019, 9:35 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A group of girls in the Salt Lake area are forging new paths through their newly formed International Scout Troop.

Smores, games and a campfire are traditional scouting activities – but for International Troop 1976, all of it was a brand-new experience.

“I’m thrilled to get the opportunity to show them a whole new world to learn about not just the outdoors, but careers and anything that they wish to learn and to realize their potential,” said Scout Master Alice Miller during a recent activity at Camp Tracy.

The newly formed all-girls troop includes scouts from different countries, including Kenya, Thailand and Bhutan.

“It’s really opened my world view to learn about these girls, their background, their families and where they’ve come from,” Miller said.

Sidartha Sarki, whose family is from Bhutan, said coming to the U.S. has required a lot of adjustments.

“The culture and just getting the references when people make jokes,” she said.

Scouting helped her brother and his friends adjust and make new friends.

“The guys they just seemed to have a lot of fun and they always go camping,” Sarki said.

Now, it’s the girls’ turn.

“It’s fun, it’s more adventurous than our girls’ get-together,” said Sarki’s cousin, Dilisha Sarki.

This troop is part of the Utah Refugee Scout Program, chaired by Michael Nebeker.

“We have tried our best to expose them to everything they had not had the chance to participate in the refugee camps,” Nebeker said.

Scout leader Saborn Va knows firsthand what it’s like to live in refugee camps.

“I came from Cambodia as a refugee to the United States,” he said.

His family narrowly escaped the Killing Fields. Many of their relatives did not.

“My mom with a pregnant belly, carrying me…(she) started running and I know she was just dodging bullets as she was running,” Va said.

After years in refugee camps, Va’s family eventually made it to the U.S. and eventually settled in Lowell, Massachusetts. That’s where he joined the Scouts.

“Scouting was very different than the community I was in,” he said. “You know, I lived in the projects most of my life. In the Ghetto.”

Va credited his Scout Master as having one of the biggest influences in his life.

“So seeing how impactful he’s been on me has been an inspiration for me to do the same thing for other kids with the same background as me,” Va said.

He led a troop of the refugee boy scouts before he began volunteering with these girls and expects the same success.

“These girls have so much potential. I’m excited,” he said.

International Troop 1976 needs more volunteers. If you are interested in helping, email utahinternationalscouts@gmail.com.

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International Scout Troop Giving Girls New Opportunities