Local Cub Scouts vote to welcome girls
For years, young girls have been relegated to the sidelines while their brothers camped, created and built confidence with the Cub Scouts, then the Boy Scouts.
Though many little sisters have accompanied their families to scouting events in the past, they never got the true experience of being part of the pack.
Now they will.
"We really looked at the families currently serving, and 87 percent of those families indicated they wanted something like scouting for their boys and girls," said Claire Osterman, Family Scouting Director for the Cascade Pacific Council of Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
After the declaration from the national BSA leadership, the parents of Sandy's Cub Scouts Pack No. 248 met on April 16 to determine if they would follow suit with the organization's new mission to include girls. It was a resounding 'yes.'
"Girls have always tagged along to meetings," Pack No. 248 Committee Chairwoman Kimberly Normand said. "They just weren't wearing a uniform or getting the recognition for it."
Come this fall, that will change. As of September, the Sandy pack will welcome girls ages kindergarten to fifth grade to register for Cub Scouts. Normand said the pack has a joint night tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 24, at the Sandy Baptist Church, 34435 S.E. Jarl Road, Boring.
As of February 2019, older girls will also gain entrance to the newly named Scouts BSA — formerly known as Boy Scouts, the subgroup of the program made for children ages 11-17.
"Scouting has always been a family event," Normand noted. "We just want people to have an activity the whole family can be involved in."
The Sandy pack holds meetings throughout the school year, and comes together a few times throughout the summer to attend camps and sell cub burgers at the Sandy Mountain Festival in Meinig Memorial Park.
Though BSA and Pack No. 248 will allow girls, the pack will continue to be broken into dens, which will remain gender-specific and segregated by age group.
"When (community members) understand that the boys and girls are going to be separated," Normand explained, "they feel better about it."
"I think more than anything … as we take this step forward into forming a new program, we want to really be welcoming to all of our membership," Osterman said. "(We want to) still provide that important time for boys to be with boys and girls to be with girls."
The idea that the girls would be included but still segregated has prompted questions for some, given the continued existence of Girl Scouts of the USA. The longtime female-focused organization sent out a tweet on May 2 saying "Fact: Girl Scouts works. That's why we're the best leadership development organization for girls in the world."
Osterman wanted to clarify that the choice to welcome girls into BSA was not meant to deter people from registering their girls for other community leadership programs.
"I would really emphasize that we celebrate all youth programs in our communities," Osterman said. "It's really about children having more opportunities than ever. It's about connecting youth with adult role models."
She also explained that "all of the activities (offered to boys and girls) will be the same."
It will be up to each pack to determine which activities the boys and girls do together and which they do separately in their dens. BSA is publishing a new handbook in June that outlines activities in an inclusive way, using images of boys and girls participating in the scouts.
Normand has a kindergarten-aged daughter, Rosie, who is happy she will be able to participate in the scouts after this fall.
"I think I am most excited about the character building and outdoor skills (she'll gain) ... and just for her to have more activity to do with her friends," Normand said. "The scouts build confidence because they learn about serving and helping other people. ... None of those are things that only girls or only boys should be learning."