Come next fall, local families might be bringing both their sons and daughters to Cub Scout programs.
The Boy Scouts of America board of directors announced Oct. 11 it approved welcoming girls into its Cub Scout programs and will deliver a Scouting program for older girls that will eventually enable them to advance and earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
“The historic decision comes after years of receiving requests from families and girls,” Boy Scouts of America said.
Shana Scott, BSA district executive for the Mt. Olympus district, which encompasses Clallam and Jefferson counties, said Cub packs — made up of “dens” or groups of Scouts designated by grade levels — can choose to establish new all-girl packs, consist of boy and girl dens or remain an all-boy pack.
“We went through many steps before getting here,” Scott said.
Scott said the decision was made after BSA performed extensive research through two Harris surveys, family sessions and sessions with Scout leaders that led the organization to create this new inclusion.
“It’s about making it easier for families,” she said. “We have a lot of girl siblings coming to meetings and pseudo-participating.”
While BSA has already had programs that involve girls — such as its day camps, Venture Crews, Sea Scout ships and Explorer Posts — Scott said this decision is new at the Cub Scout level and most likely will not affect existing packs until 2018.
“The decision to offer whether it be a girl pack, boy pack or combined pack rests with unit leadership and chartering organization,” Scott said.
Chartering organizations can be local churches, Rotaries, nonprofits or community organizations that work with BSA to connect members to their communities.
Scott said dens will stay single-gender groups even if a pack opts to have both boys and girls. The ultimate decision to allow whether a pack wants to include girls will rest with the chartering organizations and Scout leaders.
“We want to be respectful and honor the wishes [of chartering organizations] and look at what works for them,” Scott said.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all.”
Scott said she is confident there will be an option for girls to join Cub packs in every community.
“If there are girls that want to do this, there will be a place for them to go,” Scott said.
Scott said it is still unknown how this new decision will affect the Scouting program for older girls that would enable them to earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
As far as declining BSA membership, Scott said the Mt. Olympus membership is up 22 percent from the last program year.
There are a total of 14 Cub packs, 12 Boy Scout troops, two Sea Scout Ships and four Explorer Posts in the Mt. Olympus district.
To learn more about local BSA programs, visit www.seattlebsa.org.
Erin Hawkins is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach her at email@example.com.