Senior Life

Mt. Airy woman blazed a trail as Boy Scout leader

by Len Lear
Posted 6/13/24

Ann Perrone is a trailblazer. Twenty-five years ago, she became the first female scoutmaster of a Boy Scouts of America troop in the city's "Northern District."

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Senior Life

Mt. Airy woman blazed a trail as Boy Scout leader


Ann Perrone is a trailblazer.

Twenty-five years ago, in 1999, she became the first female scoutmaster of a Boy Scouts of America troop in the city's "Northern District," which at that time included North and Northwest Philadelphia, according to Nicole Fulton, District Committee Chairperson. It was six years after her son Eric, then 10 years old, joined Troop 221, which met at the Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill.

"My son, Eric, was born in 1983, and I volunteered to be a leader when he joined Cub Scouts," Perrone said. "They always had den mothers, but I was the first female troop leader."

Even though many trailblazers face considerable adversity, Perrone said her experiences were mostly positive.

"I went into this thinking there would be more awkward situations than actually materialized," she said. "The most galling experience was after I married Steve (22 years ago), an Assistant Scoutmaster in a troop in the suburbs, I realized that I would not be welcome on a general troop camping trip, as they had an unwritten 'no women allowed' rule. Not that I was hoping to join his troop (my focus was on city boys), but I certainly had the skills and experience to hang with the guys. I got over it, and eventually, so did they."

In 2010, Perrone approached the First United Methodist Church of Germantown about starting a troop. And the next year, she did – BSA Troop 1719.

Perrone's troop is still going, and one of the features of the troop of which she is most proud is their emphasis on inclusion.

"The BSA was still excluding gays at the time," she said, referring to Troop 1719’s inception. "FUMCOG wanted assurances that we wouldn't turn away anyone. So we did not ask (about sexual orientation). Then the BSA started accepting gay boys – but not as leaders, so at age 18 they had to drop out. Later, gay and lesbian leaders were allowed, but if a girl wanted to join her brother's troop, she could not do it. She had to join a girls' BSA Troop."

It wasn’t until 2019 that girls were officially allowed to join all-girl "BSA" troops.

"A father of girls pushed to have his daughters accepted in a BSA troop," Perrone explained, "because there is more emphasis on outdoor hands-on adventure than in the Girl Scouts. One girl said, 'I want to do stuff my brother does: chopping wood, canoe rides, sleeping in a tent, horseback riding, rock climbing, etc.'"

Recently, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it will rebrand to Scouting America, reflecting their mission to welcome every youth and family in America.  This change will take effect on February 8, 2025.

Perrone sees the value of camaraderie and life skills that can come from youth scouting organizations.

"I was a Girl Scout myself, first a Brownie in second or third grade and then a Cadet Girl Scout and then was in a Troop until the end of Girls High," she said.

Perrone was born in Kansas City but came here with her family as a child. She graduated from Girls High School in 1970, attended Beloit College in Wisconsin and earned a degree in Instructional Technology at Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (now Jefferson University).

Perrone, who has lived in Mt. Airy and East Falls and now lives in Drexel Hill, was a teacher at Germantown Friends School for 41 years, where she taught second grade and later computer science before retiring in 2019.

Area residents may have heard of her late mother, Clarice Herbert, who was the executive director of the Germantown YWCA and is featured on the mural on the side of the old Germantown YWCA building. Her husband, Steve Perrone, remains an Assistant Scoutmaster for a troop in Springfield, Delaware County. Her son, Eric Brachwitz, whose early-life involvement in Scouts inspired her trailblazing, has been teaching English in Japan for several years.

For more information, email or call 215-438-3677. Len Lear can be reached at