Trustworthy, loyal, helpful - and female!
Over the summer, Lake Oswego parents Kate Firmin and Sara Lewis hoped to create an unofficial Cub Scout group for their daughters and the girls' friends. They figured if they had a Cub Scout handbook and leader, their kids could learn the Cub Scout curriculum, despite being barred from officially joining the program.
"My husband and I have been involved in Boy Scouts; both of our boys went through the program," Firmin says. "This was not us choosing Boy Scouts over Girl Scouts. We were simply more familiar with the program, we loved it, and we wanted it for our girls."
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) wanted it, too. And as luck would have it, the BSA announced a decision in October 2017 to allow girls to participate in Cub Scouts — just as Firmin and Lewis' plans were coming together.
The new policy will now allow girls to form Cub Scout "dens" (a smaller group within a Cub Scout pack), as long as they receive permission from their local pack.
"We reached out to Pack #203, asking if they would allow a den of second-grade girls," Firmin says. "The answer was a resounding yes."
Firmin and Lewis recruited Kate's husband, Alistair Firmin, to lead the girls' Cub Scout den. Alistair is an Eagle Scout who has had two sons go through the Cub Scout program, and he served as a den leader years ago.
The new BSA policy will go into effect nationwide in the fall of 2018, but the Cascade Pacific Council, which includes Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington, has been selected as an early adopter of the policy. Girl Cub Scout dens in the area were officially accepted as of Monday.
Firmin says it was "so perfect" that their group would be officially recognized so early. The den consists of Lake Grove Elementary second-graders Claire Brandt, Sarah Firmin, Ellie Holverson, Mia Jensen, Emma Leverton, Emerson Lewis, Tatum Moore, Zoie Senzaki and Ella Wennerth.
While the Boy Scouts of America has offered some co-ed options since 1971, the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts programs have remained exclusively for males. In previous years, for example, 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.
So the decision to invite girls into the program is a big shift.
"This decision is true to the BSA's mission and core values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law. The values of Scouting — trustworthy, loyal, helpful, kind, brave and reverent, for example — are important for both young men and women," says Michael Surbaugh, the BSA's chief scout executive. "We strive to bring what our organization does best — developing character and leadership for young people — to as many families and youth as possible as we help shape the next generation of leaders."
Existing Cub Scout packs may choose to establish a new, all-girl pack; establish a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens; or remain an all-boy pack, according to the BSA. However, "Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls."
Cub Scout dens each have individual den leaders and hold some meetings separately, but they participate in the same activities as the other dens. So the girls will essentially enjoy the same experience as the boys.
The BSA credited the decision to the long history of receiving requests from girls and their parents interested in being involved in Cub Scouts, which is for youngsters in grades K-5. A program for older girls is expected to be available in 2019, giving them a path to earn the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout.
"I am excited for them to be able to participate in all of the great opportunities Boy Scouts has to offer, especially here in the Pacific Northwest," Kate Firmin says. "They have so many beautiful properties and programs that our girls are looking forward to participating in."
Firmin's daughter Sarah is especially excited to learn archery, go camping and spend time outdoors. Sarah says she's excited about joining the Cub Scouts because, "I really wanted to be like my brothers and be able to go camping."
At their first den meeting, Sarah and her fellow Cub Scouts learned the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
"It was so fun," Sarah says. "I'm excited for my dad to teach us."
The girls will participate in monthly den meetings, as well as pack meetings with the other dens, and go on monthly outings.
"We're planning to tour the fire station, volunteer at the food bank, and we hope to participate in future pack events such as campouts," Kate Firmin says.