From the left, Chloe Kreindler, Mia Mastrangelo, Kate Tang, Katie Skaleski and Margot Nargone pose in front of an Eagle statue at First United Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, which sponsored the girls as they achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

From the left, Chloe Kreindler, Mia Mastrangelo, Kate Tang, Katie Skaleski and Margot Nargone pose in front of an Eagle statue at First United Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, which sponsored the girls as they achieved the rank of Eagle Scout.

Photo provided by Heidi Kreindler

Local troop celebrates inaugural class of female Eagle Scouts

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 1, 2021


BIRMINGHAM/BLOOMFIELD — When longtime Scout mom Heidi Kreindler caught word that the National Boy Scouts of America was going to open its prestigious Eagle Scout program to girls back in 2019, she wanted no part of it.

“I was dead set against it,” Kreindler said with a laugh. “I said ‘Boys need to be with boys, and girls need to be with girls.’”

But her 16-year-old daughter Chloe Kreindler, a junior at Seaholm High School, had a different opinion. The Girl Scout wanted to make history as one of the first females to attain that esteemed rank of Eagle Scout, which only 6% of all Scouts achieve.

“Girl Scouts has the Gold Star as its highest achievement, but no one really knows what that means,” Chloe Kreindler said of the BSA co-ed program for Scouts in their late teens. “I had the chance to be a Venture Scout, and my mom said to do that. But I said, ‘Why would I be a Venture Scout when I can be an Eagle Scout?’”

What parents won’t do for their kids, eh?

“I went with Chloe to the first (orientation) meetings, and there was no one there to be troop leader. There was no troop,” Heidi Kreindler said. “So we started one.”

Milestone in the making
Two years and 127 rigorous requirements later, the five dedicated young women of Troop 1001G can officially call themselves Eagle Scouts and part of the very first class of female Eagle Scouts in the organization’s 113-year history. Locally, the rank went to Chloe Kreindler; Mia Mastrangelo, 18, a senior at Marian High School; Margot Nardone, 14, an eighth grader at Derby Middle School; and Katie Skaleski, 17, and Kate Tang, 16, both juniors at International Academy.

Asked what drove them to become Eagle Scouts, the girls each said that they weren’t in it for the notoriety or bragging rights. They just wanted to hang out with their friends outside.

“I was in Girl Scouts for years before, and they didn’t have the camping and exploring like the Eagle Scouts. I love being out in nature,” said Nardone. “Girl Scouts was more about community building, friendships and baking. I saw my brothers in Boy Scouts, and it seemed like they were doing more adventurous things.”

Diamonds in the rough
Make no mistake, the path to becoming an Eagle Scout is a rough one. To achieve their personal fitness requirement, the girls had to run a mile each week for three months, among other fitness tests. Swimming and cycling sound like fun, but there’s a ton of paperwork to go with it if the candidate wants to walk away with a merit badge.

Then there was the “Polar Bear Campout,” which requires them to stay outside for 18 hours straight.

“It was amazing. They did such difficult things,” Heidi Kreindler said. “Their first campout, you’re not supposed to leave a trace behind. But you could see their bodies melted into the snow from where they had been sleeping.”

“On that snow campout, they had to stay outside for 18 hours straight, and it got down to 16 degrees,” said Assistant Scoutmaster Jennifer Alexander.

Such difficult feats are made easier — or at least a little more fun — when you’re with friends, said Mastrangelo.

“The companionship was a really great part of it,” she said. “A lot comes from the relationships you make with your troop.”

“The hard moments, it was really fun to suffer together,” agreed Skaleski. “There were a lot of laughable moments.”

Benefits beyond the badges
The résumé fodder doesn’t hurt, either, Mastrangelo added. A lot of college applications require an essay, often about overcoming obstacles, which they’ve definitely done. And the social savvy and discipline they gained along with the survival skills could put them ahead of their peers.

“The skills like communication, problem solving, those are things we’re going to use in everyday life. That’s going to help us in the future,” said Tang.

Personal achievement is only half of the Eagle Scout mission, though. Community service makes up a lot of the curriculum — and serve, they did.

Mastrangelo built hoop houses for the garden beds at her old middle school, Birmingham Covington School, to protect the produce from destructive critters.

Skaleski launched a canned food drive to raise enough funds so she could purchase much-needed gym equipment for her school. She built a cart to house the donations.

Nardone also hosted a food drive, but to benefit the nonprofit agency the Judson Center, in Royal Oak. She built some planters, too, and placed them around her community to “boost morale.”

Chloe Kreindler built and placed two Little Free Libraries in Detroit.

Tang coordinated a team of volunteers to perform outdoor maintenance at her school, which had been neglected during the pandemic.

“They’re just nice girls,” Heidi Kreindler said. “They’re the first to help anyone in need.”

A new tradition begins
So now that the girls have “Eagled,” what does reluctant Scout Master Heidi Kreindler think of the program? You could say she’s a convert. She plans to continue leading the troop for future classes of female Eagle Scouts, and there are already younger candidates ready for the challenge.

There was a virtual ceremony slated for Feb. 21, after the Eagle’s press time, where nearly 1,000 inaugural female Eagle Scouts from across the country would be honored. Jenn Hancock, national chair of programs for the Boy Scouts of America, said the online event would truly be a celebration.

“This is a powerful moment for these young women, for all Eagle Scouts, and for our nation,” said Hancock, in a prepared statement. “People recognize Eagle Scouts as individuals of the highest caliber — and for the first time, that title isn’t limited by gender. This expanded opportunity will empower generations of young people as they see both young men and women earn this rank and become leaders in their communities, in business and our country.”