Girl Scout dad more than just a tagalong

By Kevin Beese Staff Writer

Malik, Zoe and Jeneya Hampton are photographed on The Odyssey at Navy Pier in Chicago when Zoe was a Daisy Girl Scout. Malik Hampton has helped with his daughter’s Girl Scout troop for 10 years. (Provided photo) 

Malik Hampton provides the muscle for his daughter’s Girl Scout troop. 

Especially in Girl Scout cookie season, Hampton provides needed labor for the girls. 

“There’s a lot of lifting of boxes, stocking the booth, storing materials,” the Matteson resident said of his Scouting involvement. “I am really prevalent then.” 

He also provides security for when cookie-sale cash is collected. 

A “silent leader” of his daughter’s troop, Hampton is a bit of unicorn. 

“I’m an anomaly. I can count on one hand the men I see involved in Girl Scouts,” Hampton said. “Events aren’t geared toward men, so they don’t look at going.” 

The south suburban resident takes his daughter, Zoe, to regional meetings for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana, where she is a local representative. 

“I am often the only dad,’ Hampton said. 

Both Hampton and his wife, Jeneya, can be found participating in their daughter’s activities.

Jeneya and Malik wear hairnets as their Girl Scout troop helps prepare food boxes with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. (Provided photo) 

“We are active parents,” Malik said. “We are actively involved in her school and our church helping with what’s needed. 

“If something needs to be done or somebody needs to provide something, we don’t rely on others. We are going to actively get involved.” 

The Hamptons even stayed on to run the PTO at O.W. Huth Middle School in Matteson this past school year even though their daughter Zoe had moved on to Southland College Prep Charter High School in Richton Park. 

“I was the silent president. Jeneya was the president,” Hampton said. “We would go to meetings. We oversaw the eighth-grade dance. We thought someone else would step up.” 

Jeneya will be president of the Southland PTO during the next school year, with Malik helping coordinate things as well. 

Malik said he saw early in Zoe’s life that many parents do not get involved in their child’s activities. 

“The biggest thing is in some groups parents are involved, but in some groups if they are not required to be involved, they will not be involved,” Malik said. “I noticed it early in Zoe’s childhood. Many parents wouldn’t show up or care about what their child was learning in school. 

The Hamptons stand outside one of Zoe’s regional meetings for the Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana. (Provided photo)

“They drop the kids off and leave. They can’t be put off to help. I see it as my small involvement to help my daughter.  At Scouts as well, we often see parents drop their girls off and go.” 

Malik said he gets the sense that it is often a breath of fresh air to have a dad in the house for Girl Scout troop meetings. 

“For me, it’s just being able to be there and being involved, showing my face so my daughter knows I care,” Malik said. “You always make time for what you want. Parents need to make time to be with their son or daughter.” 

Jeneya said her husband’s involvement with Girl Scouts is “extremely helpful.” 

“He does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work which is very important,” she said. “He moves tables and lugs stuff around and provides security. It is nice to have a male around for safety reasons.” 

The Hamptons kept their troop meeting during COVID-19. 

“All the troops were shut down and we were looking for another option instead of virtual,” Jeneya said. “We did some remodeling of our backyard and we decided to meet at our home. Most troop activities are at our house now.” 

Jeneya has been a Scout leader since Zoe was in Brownies in second grade. She took over a troop when the leader of their church group wasn’t doing required steps that would make the girls eligible for college scholarships, Malik said. 

“She said the only way to get them on the path is if I be the leader,” Malik said. “She wanted to make

The Hamptons at the Powder Puff Derby, a model car race for Girl Scouts. Zoe, a Daisy Scout at the time, earned third-place honors. (Provided photo) 

sure our daughter and anyone who wanted to be on the bandwagon was.” 

Now, most of the girls, who are from Matteson, Homewood, Olympia Fields and Chicago Heights, are in high school, but remain with the troop. 

“We keep things girl led,” Jeneya said. “I do what they’re interested in, not just because they can get a badge for doing it. 

“We do service projects they want to do and check it off the list. We have a huge focus on entrepreneurship and looking at where their passions lie. We focus on what they are going to do beyond the troop.” 

They are also on track for reaching the Gold Award, which makes them eligible to apply for Girl Scout college scholarships, Jeneya said. 

Mailk said with most of the troop being with the Hamptons for 10 years, the girls are comfortable with his presence. 

“They look forward to me coming and being a runner, getting more boxes, loading and unloading,” Malk said. “I am the worker bee.” 

One Scouting activities Malik doesn’t partake in is camping. 

“That’s my choice,” he said. “They get enough women for those. They get all the help they need for camping.” 

Malik said it isn’t easy, but he and Jeneya make the time to be active in their daughter’s activities. 

“We make time for everything,” Malik said. “It’s what’s important to you. Even if it just helping load up a vehicle, you can find your place. 

“Once you go and put yourself out there, you will find something. If you ask Scout leaders ‘How can I help?’ they will find something for you to do, especially in cookie season. They need more involvement then. You have to want to make the time.”