Rachel Stephens, of Hampton Bays, was looking for something fun to get her 8-year-old to get involved in. She tried Boy Scouts, but she said it just wasn't right for her son. She continued her search and came upon a new group called Earth Charter US.
The non-profit organization, according to its website, is geared toward children ages 3 to 13 and "empowers them to make a difference in their local communities and throughout the world."
Intrigued, Stephens made some phone calls and decided this was something that would be perfect for her son, who is home-schooled.
Finding that an Earth Charter unit had not yet been created locally — there is only one in New York State — she decided to organize one herself that encompasses the East End of Long Island, called the Peconic Earth Scouts.
Her first meeting was held Wednesday afternoon at the in Jamesport and the children participated in a spider web game that aimed to show how everyone is connected like parts of a web.
"When there is a tug somewhere, we all feel it, and if we lose a part of the web, we can feel that too," said Stephans.
What she says she likes best about Earth Charter is that the organization does not use the word "troop" to describe its units because "the word stems back to soldiers trained to fight, and the Earth Charter is anti-war and promotes world peace."
In addition, rather than being called a "leader," the organizers are called "facilitators."
"I will not lead, I will only guide," she said. "The members are encouraged to use their ideas and I will be there to help them succeed."
And she said unlike Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, both genders are welcome at meetings.
"Both my son, who is 8, and my daughter, who is 5, will be members along with seven other families with between one and three children of mixed genders," she said.
While her group is full, Stephens said she encourages area moms and dads to start their own units and can provide information on how to get chartered.
Stephens is also looking for sponsorships and donations for her new group. She can be reached at 631-594-1789 and firstname.lastname@example.org.