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Peterborough Cub Scouts first to allow girls


Wednesday, March 21, 2018 3:40PM

Cub Scout Pack 8 in Peterborough opens its doors to girls this month as a pilot unit for the Boy Scouts of America’s Family Program. The program rolls out nationwide in fall of 2018, but select Cub Scout packs around the Daniel Webster Council can be early adopters, provided they meet certain training requirements. The pack will be the first in the Monadnock region to do so, with other local packs following suit in the coming months.

Jeff King, charter organization representative for Pack 8, said that Peterborough Recreation Committee supports the move to include girls ages 6 to 9, in large part because there have been many requests over the years to do so. Peterborough Recreation Committee already charters a Girl Scout troop, a Boy Scout Troop, and two Venturing Crews in addition to Pack 8.

“The BSA’s outdoor program has camping, outdoor activities and outdoor skills built in,” said King, an Eagle Scout. “For outdoor-oriented families, many of whom have boys who are Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, the Cub Scout program offers an opportunity to spend time together as a family during those activities,” he said. “We already charter two co-ed BSA programs, Venturing Crews 3165 and 808, where young men and women 14-20 experience the outdoors together. For us, it was an easy decision,” King said.

While the Boy Scouts of America has been discussing this move for some time, it was summer 2017 when representatives of the Daniel Webster Council began polling leaders in the state as to whether they would support such a move. The BSA had already conducted market research showing that over 87% of parents polled who don’t currently have a Scout in a BSA program would support inclusion of girls in Boy Scout programs. It also realized that many Cub Scout packs had siblings attending and participating, though not in an official capacity.

Initially, within the larger pack, a den of girls will be formed, which is typically a small group of 6-8 same-aged Scouts working on the same rank. This den will integrate in all pack activities, do the same rank requirements, and go camping and hiking with the rest of the Scouts. Because the integration is new to Cub Scouting, this arrangement will be evaluated prior to this fall’s roll out of the program nationally, said Brian Beihl, Mt Monadnock district chairman and member of the Daniel Webster Council’s executive board.

“We’ll learn a lot from the units who’ve chosen to be early adopters. As with anything new, there will be lessons learned in the field and adjustments made. But it’s an exciting time for Scouting, and I’m thrilled to be sharing the BSA’s outdoor leadership program with young women,” Beihl said. “As a former Scoutmaster and current Venturing Crew leader, we’re ready to open up the program, ” he said.

Cubmaster & Eagle Scout Tim Theberge, in charge of Cub Scout Pack 8’s program, said that while the program presents some new challenges, it also offers an opportunity for parents who have both a boy and a girl of Scouting age to spend more time with their kids.

“Scouting is, and always has been, a family-oriented program,” said Theberge. “I know that this means some changes as to how we do things at the pack level, but frankly, our families and our young men are ready for this. There’s integration at school and other groups, and it only makes sense to do it in Scouting. And it makes it convenient for parents who want to be leaders and who want to give all of their children an outdoor experience to be part of our programs,” he said.

While the Cub Scout program rolls out this fall, the Boy Scout program will not begin troops for girls until fall 2019. Details on the Boy Scout program are still in development, but officials at the BSA have said that the ranks requirements, merit badges, and physical requirements, will be identical, including the Eagle Scout rank.

Tim Theberge said that he is encouraging families with girls to contact the pack immediately if they’re interested in joining prior to the big NHX state jamboree, where 5,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers and Explorers will be converging on New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon this May. Pack 8 will be attending summer camp as well, at Camp Carpenter in Manchester.

“We have lots of fun summer activities lined up to introduce new Scouts to our program,” said Theberge. “I can’t wait to share it with both boys and girls,” he said.

Theberge said that Cub Scout Pack 8 meets Mondays at 6:30 p.m. at the Peterborough Town House. Interested Scouts and parents can visit any meeting for more information, or contact Theberge at (978) 869-8356.