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Scouts BSA is now a thing. Which means girls can join. Or more appropriately, the entire family can join one organization instead of two. Girls at the Cub Scout level have been joining in record numbers for more than a year and finally girls at the Boy Scout level can join as well.

Why is this important?

It means families can head to one location instead of splitting up for sons to head to one activity and girls to another.

Scout master Russell “Rusty” Baxley said it the best: “While Scouting adjusts to the times, the core values of duty to family, duty to country and duty to God remain as our foundation.”

Those tenants of Scouting have been around since the creation of the group by Baden Powell. In the early days, girls actively participating in the organization was not an unheard-of thing.

In fact, girls have been a part of Scouting for years. Assistant Cub Scout Master Thad Roland said, “My mom was the one who led our troop for years in the Boiling Springs area.”

When he began as a Cub, there was no Pack anywhere nearby, only the one that his mom decided to start for him and his friends.

“Now that my son is a part of the Cub Scouts, I am glad that he and I and my wife can go together,” he said. “In fact, she is the one who organizes the Tigers.”

“Really,” said Roland, “the whole goal is getting kids back into nature.” Which is what his Troop does with at least one event every month dedicated to getting outside, hiking, camping or doing community events.

Baxley points out the Lion program is open to children with their families as young as 5. Kindergarteners can start school one week and attend their first meeting that weekend. Or if parents are interested, they can come to any spring event to finish out the year.

“The Lion program engages the child with the greater community through monthly visits to museums, parks, and fire stations,” Baxley said. “Lions will build a foundation of character through a focus on outdoor fun.”

Upstate mom Brooke Davis has had her daughter in Cub Scouts for the last year and feels it is a very good fit for her family.

“She is being taught useful things she can use and she really likes it,” she said. “Scouting is focused on teaching the next generation of girls the skills they will need in adulthood.”

Davis also likes the aspect of it being a family centered program where parents are highly encouraged to get involved and go on every outing with the kids.

While there may still be some settling and shifting at the national level, local Upstate Scouting Troops are serving young Cubs Scouts with the same focus they have had for well over 100 years. Getting out into nature and teaching the youth of our community to become stewards of nature and the leaders of tomorrow.

Tips for selecting an extra-curricular activity for your child

Know your child’s interests. Thad Roland of the Scouting BSA organization recommends that you really look at what your child likes to do. “Choose something you can do together or that they have expressed a sincere interest.” A child who finds they do not like something is also a child that may have tons of equipment lying around after two meetings, something no parent wants.

Look for a class that fits your schedule. There are many different organizations and clubs and businesses that offer fun events and classes for your child. Fitting it into your already busy schedule is key to keeping everybody in the family happy.

Remember to plan for meal times. Having a class that fits into the day only works if you are not rushing around trying to get everybody fed or stopping by the fast food place every week. Hungry children are cranky children and less likely to enjoy any activity. The same rule applies for bed times as well. If an event or class goes past the time they are normally asleep, consider waiting another year.

Be aware of the monetary requirements for an organization. Roland said, “Knowing how much joining fees are, and then how much the equipment is going to cost can often be a discouragement to families who did not consider the full amount.”

Try it out a few times before committing. Most organizations offer a trail period where you and your child can go and test things out before fully committing. Spend the time talking to other parents to get an idea of what they think and if your child continues to be interested.

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