This father proves that Girl Scouts aren’t just for girls.
James Knapp, a Marine, answered the call of duty to lead his daughter Shayla’s Girl Scout troop at St. Stanislaus in Maspeth this year when the previous leader moved away.
Since taking over as co-leader — with Jessica D. Antonio and Jennifer Johnson — of his daughter’s Junior Girl Scout Troop #4732 (along with the younger Brownie Troop #4123, which was also in the need of a troop leader), Knapp has instilled in his troops traits that he learned during his time as a Marine, including reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and participating in local memorial ceremonies.
“Some of the things I’ve taught the girls is that you don’t give up on what we’re doing,” Knapp said. “Family is very important to me, and I tell the girls to be proud of who you are. These girls are proud and really dynamic, and they are learning that you can accomplish anything when you set your mind to it.”
Under Knapp’s leadership the troops are earning many badges for group projects as well as individual achievements. The group even worked together and compromised to create the troop crest, Knapp said.
“It’s all about cohesiveness. Everything blends together so well,” he added. “There are team things they can do as a group, but there are also things they can do on their own to get their badges. These are strong-minded little girls, who I like to see and grow and prosper. They could be the leaders of our country one day.”
Although Knapp is having fun co-leading the troops and helping the girls learn new things and earn their badges, it has been a learning experience for him as well.
“It’s tough. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s really tough,” Knapp said. “We work really hard with these girls. It’s good to see that we can muster it up as co-leaders because together we have more experience and can see where our strengths and weaknesses are, and work to our strengths and address our weaknesses. The girls can’t wait until next year already.”
Knapp encourages other fathers to participate in their daughters’ Girl Scout troops if they have the time.
“I would personally recommend if a dad can do it, to do it because it’s a good experience to get to know your daughter’s interests and what they are learning about,” Knapp said. “It’s great to see how much these girls learn and grow. It makes me a better person and a better parent. I get to see my daughter grow and all the other girls grow at the same time. I’m proud that I can do that, and am grateful to Greater Girl Scouts of New York for giving me the opportunity to do this. It is a lot of fun and a great experience that I wouldn’t give up for the world.”
Knapp plans to continue leading both Girl Scout troops for the foreseeable future, teaching young girls to believe in themselves and to go after the things they want in life.