John “Doc” McFadzen is the quintessential tough guy. The 6-foot-two, 250-pound retired Navy corpsman and underwater welder is tatted from the neck down, with gauges and an impressive beard. He’s probably the last person that comes to mind when one hears the term “Girl Scout troop leader.”
But earlier this year, McFadzen volunteered to lead Daisy Troop 6825 in southern Los Angeles as part of an expansion program that seeks to introduce scouting to girls who may not have otherwise had the opportunity to join.
The Navy vet’s toolbox is now filled with beads and glitter, and he proudly sports a t-shirt that reads, “Man enough to be a Girl Scout.”
“There was a time I would have worried about it, but I don’t care any more,” McFadzen told KCBS-TV. “I am what I am. I love the kids.”
Among the group of 6 and 7-year-old girls is McFadzen’s own daughter, Johnnie Mae.
“It just feels better to me because he’s my father,” Johnnie Mae McFadzen told KCBS. “I love it. I wouldn’t change it.”
McFadzen’s unique troop is funded completely by donations from the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
“One of our missions right now is to come into under represented communities, to bring the scouting experience to girls from every single corner of the city,” Girl Scout community outreach specialist Maria Lupe Hernandez told KCBS.
Part of this effort involves providing aid to families who can’t afford to join scouts.
“Any troop leaders that might not necessarily have the financial means to start a troop take full advantage — free membership for the girls, free sashes for the girls,” Hernandez explained.
What started as a nice volunteer opportunity for Doc, or Pappy as he’s often called, has turned into a deeply rewarding experience.
“It’s work but then, when I get here,” he said, “I leave here, and it’s just like, that was so cool.”
To learn more about what the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are doing to help their community, click here.