BY MADDIE WILDER
This August, Boy Scouts of America is opening Cub Scouts to both boys and girls for the first time, and many families are excited about the new change. Scouting embraces the outdoors with hands-on activities like camping, hiking and physical activities, while focusing on strong values that build physical, mental and emotional character. By welcoming girls into the program, more youth will have access to the character development and values-based leadership that Scouting promises, and be better prepared for future success. Cub Scouts is a year-round program that helps build confident young leaders and is excited to welcome young girls into their program.
The Harterink family is one example of a family delighted about this new opportunity for girls. Shane Harterink spent four years leading his son’s Cub Scout pack and can’t wait to share the same experience with his younger daughter.
Shane has watched his son go through the Cub Scout program since he joined in first grade. Since then, his son has enjoyed the outdoor activities that are core to the Scouts program and has grown into a more independent person who is about to start Boy Scouts. Shane’s daughter has watched her brother hike, camp and shoot with avid interest and a growing desire to get involved herself. She intended to join Venture crew—a BSA program for boys and girls ages 14–20—as soon as she was old enough, since that was the only option at the time, but now that Cub Scouts is open to both boys and girls, Shane can’t wait to see his daughter join, and neither can she.
Shane’s daughter has been going on family camping trips since she was young, a family tradition that started a while ago, and she’s no stranger to the outdoors: “She doesn’t mind getting dirty, she really likes the adventure and can’t wait to shoot a BB gun like her brother does,” he acknowledged. “She is really excited about joining Cub Scouts.”
This new initiative comes from recent feedback that families attend Scout meetings as an entire family and would love a program that included their daughters. Surveys collected said that 90% of families who aren’t already involved with Scouting would be interested in a program like Cub Scouts for their daughters. Boy Scouts of America’s core mission and values align with this inclusion, and the organization sees a great opportunity to instill these in both young men and women.
Not all existing packs will make this transition. The current program allows flexibility for different packs across the country. One option is that packs will include both boy dens and girl dens—with the dens remaining single gender (and coming together only for awards ceremonies and family activities). Another option allows for an all-female pack comprised of several all-female dens. The last option is not a change; packs can choose to stay all male. In the Old Hickory Council, which serves youth and families in Forsyth County in addition to seven northwest North Carolina counties, including Alleghany, Ashe, Stokes, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes and Yadkin, about 30 of the 75 Cub Scout packs will offer options for girls.
If you are interested in finding out more about this new opportunity for girls or want to find a pack for your daughter or son, visit BeAScout.org to find a local Cub Scout pack in your area. Girls and boys ages 5-10 are encouraged to join.