When hopeful girls walked up to Wilsonville Cub Scout Pack 199 Cubmaster David Martin at recruitment events such as Fun in the Park, Martin hated having to turn them away.
Because girls who did not have a brother in the Cub Scout program weren't covered by insurance through Boy Scouts of America, Martin says signing up these girls was a liability.
So the pack did not let them join.
But now, because of a change in policy that will allow girls to officially join the pack, Martin's excited to change his refrain from apologetic to welcoming.
"This year I'll say 'Absolutely. Here's some information on how to join,'" Martin said.
After Boy Scouts of America announced it would allow programs for girls to join Cub Scout packs — which includes kindergarteners through fifth graders — and for the eventual creation of programs for girls ages 11-to-17, Wilsonville Rotary, the Wilsonville packs' charter organization and sponsor, gave clearance for Wilsonville-based Cub Scout packs to add girls. Cub Scout Pack 199 recently announced that they would recruit girls to join.
In previous years, the sisters of official Cub Scout members could perform Cub Scout activities but did not receive official recognition and, in turn, could not earn badges and other honors. Martin says that while the overall troop has about 45 members, 6-12 girls per year have also been a part of the program since he joined in 2013.
Now, they can receive official recognition and be a part of a separate den — which is a smaller group within a pack — for girls.
Martin says the benefits of girls joining the family pack program versus a seperate Girl Scouts organization are increased commuting convenience for busy parents and that brothers and sisters can enjoy the scouting experience together.
Rachael Martinez, who has a son in the Cub Scout program and another in the Boy Scout program, thinks official recognition will prove beneficial for the girls already in the program.
"I think they see their brothers get this recognition and they aren't getting it so I think it could be a boost of self-confidence. It's good that they get the recognition too," she said.
Martin conducted a survey of current Cub Scout members and other parents in the community asking them their thoughts on the idea of adding girls to the Cub Scout pack. He says the survey indicated general support for the idea.
Cub Scout dens have individual den leaders and hold some meetings separately but participate in the same activities as the other dens. So the girls will essentially enjoy the same experience as the boys.
Martin says the girls' den leaders don't have to be women — just good leaders.
"I want a leader who is passionate and is willing to show care for our Scouts and put together a great program for them. We have wonderful den leaders who are moms and wonderful den leaders who are dads," he said.
Amanda Kenney, who is the mother of one boy who is a part of Cub Scout Pack 199 and one girl who is slated to join, is interested in becoming a den leader.
"I think it would be beneficial to become a bigger part since two of my three children would be involved in it," Kennedy said. "This is my first year being a part of the Scouts. However, David and I will further discuss what is to be expected of me as a den leader but I think I would fit in very well and bring a lot to the table."
And she says her daughter is excited to join the Cub Scout program.
"It's something she's very eager to do," Kennedy said. "Both of my children are very outdoor children. They love to go on adventures, they love camping and the outdoorsy things. It's something she's interested in being a part of."
Martin wasn't totally sure why the Cub Scouts of America took until now to allow girls to join. Martinez offers her own explanation.
"I think change is a hard thing to except and I think the program is very strong and to rock the boat with that is scary for some people," Martinez said. "Why change something when it's already a great program?
"But I think adding girls to it makes it even better."