Boys and girls enjoying changes to Cub Scouts
By Colin Anderson
Photo Courtesy of Cub Scout Pack 114
Shalonda Miller’s son Ronny loves being in Cub Scouts. Her daughter, Kylie, is equally—if not more—excited for her den meetings and monthly pack meetings. In fact, Kylie was one of the first girls in the region to join up when the landmark decision to allow girls into Cub Scouts was made a little more than two years ago. “She’s an active kid and really wanted to try it. She’s very self-motivated and has loved it ever since,” explained Shalonda.
When her daughter decided to enroll in Cub Scouts, Shalonda began as a parent volunteer but soon found herself as a den leader. She now sits as the committee and awards chair of Pack 114. “In the beginning there were just two girls, and we ended up the year with five. We currently have a pack of four girls, as a couple have moved up in age and are now a part of a Scouts BSA troop based in Sandpoint,” she shares.
In May of 2018, the Boy Scouts of America launched a new campaign entitled “Scout me in,” in which family scouting was introduced—and for the first time girls would be welcomed at the youngest level of scouts. “Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, national marketing group director of Boy Scouts of America. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’—because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you. We want you to join!’”
Under the new guidelines, boys and girls ages 5 to 10 are eligible for Cub Scouts. They are placed in different dens but come together on a monthly basis for an activity. “We just had our Fall Fest where we did pumpkin carving and painting, made scarecrows, did ring toss and other games, and the entire pack participated,” said Shalonda.
Pack 114 was one of the first in the nation to bring girls in, due a lot to a long-standing affiliation dating back to its charter being founded back in the early 1960s. Shalonda believes that girls fit in very well with the Cub Scouts’ mission, especially in an area like North Idaho with its people’s love of the outdoors. “They love going to camp and being outdoors just like the boys. We recently took both dens fishing, and as many of the girls are the older ones, they were the ones cleaning and gutting the fish for the boys,” she said.
On top of three den meetings and a monthly activity, local Cub Scouts are also very active in helping and beautifying the community. Pack 114 participates in conservation projects at the Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge and cleans up litter around the community. You might have seen a Scouting for Food bag placed at your home, which is coordinated by the Scouts. They collect the bags and donations from the community and bring them to the food bank. The community service, bonding with others and learning to follow the Scout Law can help shape young minds from all backgrounds.
“The quietest ones aren’t so quiet when they get done with Scouts,” said Shalonda. “Kids that come in quiet or shy gain confidence and are proud to share the experience of scouting with the community.”
In its current dynamic, this is especially true with the girls’ den of 114. As they are a little bit older than the current group of boys, many have taken on leadership roles and are not afraid of the spotlight. “Girls love the skits and are really excited to be up on stage. They aren’t shy about doing the oath or the Pledge of Allegiance up in front of the group either,” said Shalonda.
In the coming months, the Scouts will have two of the bigger events they hold each year. In February, they’ll host the Blue and Gold Café, a cake sale in which the community is invited and proceeds going toward funding the pack’s various activities and supplies. The annual Pinewood Derby Race is typically held in the spring and something all Scouts look forward to.
Kids who are interested in learning more are encouraged to attend one of the weekly meetings, typically held at the fairgrounds. There is no obligation, and new Scouts are encouraged to attend all functions, though not mandatory. Shalonda is happy to provide additional information, and you can reach her at 208.290.2278. BeAScout.org is another great resource. Parent volunteers are also welcomed. The board is currently in need of a secretary, and there are other opportunities available for those interested in getting involved.
For Shalonda’s daughter Kylie, being a Cub Scout is something that wasn’t possible for her just a few years ago but is now having a major impact on her life. Although she is still at the youngest levels, she already has her eyes set on the ultimate goal of becoming an Eagle Scout, the organization’s highest honor. “She’s determined,” said Shalonda. “I know it will happen, and I think it would be pretty cool to see her accomplish that.”