In September, a country-wide launch will allow girls to become Cub Scout members for the first time in the history of the organization.
“You will be able to take your boys and girls to one place where the whole family is involved,” said Patty Gomm, Cubmaster of Pack 1 Warwick.
“I am thrilled because now parents can bring both their sons and daughters to meetings. It’s one-stop shopping in Scouting where the whole family participates in the weekly meetings
They don’t have to find a babysitter for their daughter so they can bring their son to Cub Scouts anymore,” said Gomm.
Yet the Cub Scouts will not become a coed organization. There will be separate Cub Scout dens of between six to eight boys or girls. Gomm has been Cubmaster since September 2017. She has been a Scout leader in Pack 1 Warwick since 2001. Today her six-year-old grandson, Shamus, is in her Cub Scout pack.
Pack 1 Warwick is the original Cub Scout pack that began in the late 1950s.
“I wanted to be an early adopter because I’ve always had sibling girls participating alongside their brothers. Now they can participate fully in the Cub Scout program,” Gomm said.
Fourteen girls ranging from six to 10 years old joined Gomm’s Cub Scout pack earlier this year.
“One of the girls came to her first meeting wearing the Cub Scout uniform and announced, ‘I’m making history.’
“She was proud as punch. She realized this is the first time ever that a girl could put on a Cub Scout uniform and participate. She was thrilled,” Gomm said.
August Pittman, 8, was that young girl. She’ll enter third grade this year at Warwick Neck Elementary School. She told everyone in her family, “I’m proud to wear the Cub Scout uniform. I called my grandmother and told her that I might be in the history books,” August said.
August’s mother, Aimee Pittman, said her daughter plans to tell her own children and grandchildren that she was one of the first girl Cub Scouts in the country.
“August loves history, and we were talking about how a lot of the people in the books she reads were among the first to do something big,” said Aimee Pittman.
August’s favorite book, which she has read five times, is the biography of Helen Keller because it depicts someone who pushed past barriers and changed the world.
“The book was interesting because it talked about what Helen did, what she was feeling and her point of view. Maybe I’ll change the world someday,” said August.
Aimee Pittman says she has witnessed wonderful changes in her daughter since she joined the Cub Scouts.
“She has struggled socially but I have seen more confidence in her now. She’s making friends and actively participating. It’s the little things that you wouldn’t think would be a big deal that mean the world to me.”
Aimee Pittman described her own desire as a young tomboy to be a Boy Scout.
“It was not possible for me. August is fulfilling a lifelong wish I had as a young girl.”
“Other girls in the pack have fathers who were Boy Scouts and who are thrilled that their daughters can participate. It makes a huge difference because they can dress in the same uniform as their brothers and be active participants in the program. The boys are accepting the girls in my pack because a Scout is a Scout,” Gomm said.
Traditionally, the Cub Scouts have fostered character traits like responsibility, loyalty, citizenship and leadership. Scout leaders believe children learn important skills they will have for life.
“Being a Scout will help them make better decisions in life. They will be better prepared for adversities. They will make better choices if we give them a better foundation now,” Gomm said.
“Girls should be given the opportunity to join at the Cub Scout level,” said Gerry Terceiro, Pack 1 Gaspee Plateau Scoutmaster, a Cub Scout from 1975 to 1979. He said he’s excited about having girls participate in the program.
Terceiro joined his Boy Scout troop as an 11-year-old in 1979. He became an Eagle Scout in 1985 and Scoutmaster in 1996. There are experiences Tercierio would not have had if not for the Scouts: traveling to Canada, Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg, camping, mountain climbing, canoeing and hiking.
“My vocation is the Boy Scouts. I will never leave. It’s been a huge part of my life. Many of my adult Scout leaders are in their early 30s, and they were Boy Scouts while I’ve been the Scoutmaster.
“Now I am seeing the second generation of Scouts starting to join, which is very cool and makes me feel very old. It’s good to see them bring their kids for the same great experience they had,” he said.
Now that inter-generational experience will be shared by mothers and daughters, too.
“With Family Scouting, you have the whole family become involved, and all the kids can have official membership and earn badges and recognition,” Terceiro said.