Ilona Buterbaugh soon can dispense with the "tag-along" tag.

The 11-year-old from Clintonville, who has five older brothers -- all of whom were Boy Scouts -- will become a full-fledged Boy Scout herself when the all-girl Troop 74 is formed Feb. 1 at Overbrook Presbyterian Church, 4131 N. High St. in Columbus.

That's when, for the first time in its nearly 118-year history, Boy Scouts of America -- to be officially known as Scouts BSA -- will be open to girls ages 11 to 17.

Ilona can't wait.

"I've always been sort of a tag-along," she said. "I never went on any weekend campouts or the skiing campouts."

All that and more, including the potential to attain Eagle Scout status, will be available to girls and young women from throughout central Ohio who want to join Troop 74, said Joan Ray, who will serve as Scoutmaster for the group.

Troop 74 will be "linked," in Scouting parlance, with the all-male Troop 474, also chartered at Overbrook Presbyterian.

Preparations for the formation of Troop 74 began almost a year ago, Ray said, after the BSA's national executive board voted to admit girls. The core for the new troop, she said, will be girls who joined the co-ed Venturing program, but it will be open to others.

"It can be girls from all over," Ray said. "Any girl interested in joining is welcome to join."

Those interested may sign up at troop74columbus.org/ become-a-member.

The Venturing Crew was formed three years ago for ages 14 to 21, "because so many sisters wanted to participate" in Scouting activities, said Andrew Hinkle, one of the program's leaders.

Tracy Shrimplin's 16-year-old daughter, Madison Rinehart, will be among those "crossing over" from Venturing to Boy Scouts, joining an older brother.

"I come in ... really believing this program creates leaders," Shrimplin said. "Hopefully, some of these ladies will fill the boardrooms because of the skills they've learned."

"As I have a brother who's a Tenderfoot, I hope to learn some of the cool things he has done," Madison said.

"They just let girls in, and since I've been supporting my brother for so long, I wanted to join right away," 10-year-old Lia Staley said.

"I love it because my son has been through Scouts," said her mother, Karen Staley of Clintonville. "It's just been such a positive experience for him."

Elizabeth Saint-Jacques of Upper Arlington said she liked the idea of Scouting activities but feared a Girl Scout troop would be mostly about fingernail painting.

The 12-year-old joined Girl Scouts and her fears came true, she said -- so now she's pumped about being part of Troop 74.

"I wanted to do more stuff outdoors," Elizabeth said.

"I like that there's a lot of strong female leadership and peers," said her mother, Michelle Saint-Jacques.

Jeff Buterbaugh, Ilona's father, an assistant Scoutmaster in both Troops 74 and 474, said it was not an easy decision to go with all-girl and all-boy groups.

"I do feel that having the gender-specific experience brings a lot of worth to the program," Buterbaugh said, noting that boys act differently around other boys, as do girls around other girls.

"All of the core skills will be relevant to both, and the leadership development ... but I think there are going to be differences in the approach to how they handle tasks."

A chili reception

The new troop will meet at 7 p.m. Mondays at Overbrook Presbyterian.

As one of its first public events, the members of Troop 74 will take part in the annual Clintonville Woman's Club's annual Chili Cook Off. The event had been set for Jan. 20, but was postponed to Feb. 17 due to the wintry weather that weekend.

The event will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. at the club, 3951 N. High St.

The troop will be among eight nonprofit organizations vying for awards in the competition, said club spokeswoman Kate Blakeslee.

Bowls of chili, hot dogs and desserts will be available for purchase separately, Blakeslee said.

Groups participating in addition to Troop 74 are the Civitan Club of North Columbus, Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce, Clintonville Area Commission, Clintonville-Beechwold Community Resources Center, Clintonville Historical Society, Mahjongg Mavens of the Clintonville Woman's Club and Northern Kiwanis of Columbus.

"I think it's going to be great group time," Shrimplin said. "I think that the kitchen just tends to bring people together."

An announcement from Blakeslee said the event would be "a great opportunity to meet and learn about some of Clintonville's hardworking organizations. It will be a fun, delicious, informative afternoon."

Clintonville Area Commission chairwoman Libby Wetherholt said the CAC's chili was delicious at the 2018 event.

"It didn't get any awards," she said, "but it was very good."

Other female Scouts BSA troops also are forming in the area, according to Ray. For information on other opportunities, visit the Simon Kenton Council website, https://skcscouts.org/join/

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1