A man among girls

Eric Foster enjoyed the outdoors as an Eagle Scout but little did he know then that his interests would one day lead him to where he is today – a trainer with the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas.

Foster served as a Scoutmaster with his two sons, taking them through Boy Scouts. Now, he is doing the same with his daughter, only in a slightly different setting.

When he adopted his daughter, Morgan, from China, he decided to transfer his knowledge of scouting to the Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas where he volunteered his time to become a scout leader and a trainer. He works with the fifth-grade Junior level since his daughter is now 11.

“Scouting is my hobby,” says the Flower Mound father. “The reason I give my time to scouting … is the holistic nature of the program.”

Through working with his daughter and other young women, Foster has been able to help them learn skillsets in leadership, being a team player, citizenship, fitness, disaster preparation, environmental stewardship, life skills and more.

“We’re teaching girls in this program to be leaders in the community,” he said.

Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas serves an estimated 33,000 girls and 17,000 adults in 32 northeast Texas counties including Denton County, which has 4,396 girls in the program. An estimated 732 of the county’s Girl Scouts are from Flower Mound with 138 from Highland Village, 88 from Lantana, 55 from Argyle, 23 from Double Oak, three from Bartonville and two from Copper Canyon.

The program helps to equip young women with self-confidence, knowledge and skills that can be applied to adulthood.

One of the strengths Foster brings to the program is his familiarity with Boy Scouts and the outdoor experiences he can transfer to the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas has five camps including Camp Better Perot, a 1,400-acre property with equine and aquatic activities in Palestine; the 96-acre Camp Whispering Cedars, 20 minutes south of downtown Dallas; Camp Rocky Point near Denison on Lake Texoma; Camp Gambill in Sumner; and Camp Kadohadacho in Pottsboro on Lake Texoma.

Soon, the 96-acre Camp Whispering Cedars will be transformed into a STEM Center of Excellence to create a living laboratory for the girls to experience outdoor activities to explore career opportunities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The first building is expected to open in the spring of 2015.

With the wide assortment of camp opportunities, Foster can help teach the Girl Scouts about the environment to better enjoy the outdoors, he said.

“The outdoor aspect is different from what they see from day to day,” Foster said. “It is a way to capture their attention,” he added.

Working with Troop 3630 in Flower Mound, Foster is currently helps his group work on three badges – animal welfare, senior care and disability awareness.

“We’re not doing something for the community,” he said. “We’re doing something with the community.”

For animal welfare, the girls work with animal rescue groups and raising money and awareness on feline vaccination. For senior care, the girls are designing and making blankets for seniors, helping with game nights and creating potted plants to put in seniors’ rooms. For disability awareness, they are learning about the issues facing those with disabilities such as the challenges they face and how to mitigate those challenges, he said.

Scouting, to Foster, is about helping youngsters to learn and better understand the world around them.

“The ultimate idea is to equip them to be informed and to be proactive,” he said. “[It’s about] what can you do to make a difference in their lives.”

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