With controversy surrounding girls entering the Boy Scouts of America, it seems to be working well for Scout Pack 1 Warwick.
The pack has the most girls of any pack in the Narragansett Council Group with 18 girls of its 55 members.
“What these girls don’t realize is [that] they are making history,” said Cubmaster Patty Gomm. “They are blazing trails at such a young age.” Packs are made up of children from kindergarten to 5th grade.
In addition to being the most girl-populated pack in the Narragansett Council Group, which comprises participants within Rhode Island, South Coast Massachusetts, and Pawcatuck, Conn., Gomm’s Pack is among the top 3 percent in terms of female Cub Scout membership in the Northeast Region, which includes New England, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and northern Virginia, according to Mark Arnold, southwest service area executive at the Boy Scouts of America.
The Northeast Region includes almost 1,000 Cub Scout Packs that have chosen to be Family Packs, which are now open to both boys and girls in separate dens, as is the case with Gomm’s Pack. In total, there are about 100 girls who are officially registered in the Narragansett Council, with more on the way.
Each pack is categorized by “dens,” which are designated by grade level and split between girls and boys. So far, the girl participants in Gomm’s “Webelos” den, which stands for “WE’ll BE LOyal Scouts” and consists of children who are aged 10 or 11 or in the fourth or fifth grade, outweigh the boy participants, with 3 girls and 2 boys registered.
While, overall, numbers of girls are low in the onset of their inclusion, as each year goes by Gomm believes it will be much easier for the younger girls to succeed in the program because the older girls are completing these accomplishments now. She said that for the younger girls, it would be more of the “norm” to complete these accomplishments, and not something so different, which is what she believes the girls completing the program experience now.
To illustrate the trailblazing qualities of the girls in her Pack, Gomm pointed to Kerran Kent, a fifth grader who will be the first girl in the Pack to ever earn the highest award in Cub Scouting; the Arrow of Light. In March, she will be one of the first girls to rise to the ranks of an all-girl Scouts BSA Troop, which only became possible in May, when Boy Scouts of America announced that the “Boy Scouts” would become “Scouts BSA” this upcoming February and would start to include both boys and girls.
Kerran’s mother, Kerrie, who brought her two sons to the Scouts program before Kerran joined, said that she was happy to see all of her children, both her two boys and her two girls, completing the Scouts program together and seeing her sons teach her daughters how to complete certain tasks they learned in the Scouts.
“It’s nice having the whole family, all my kids in [the Scouts program]… being able to do things together,” she said.
Kerrie has also seen Kerran grow more confidence. “She’s definitely opened up more since starting Scouts…[when] trying new things [before joining the Scouts], she was always, ‘I can’t do that’ before she’s even tried,” she said. “And now it’s more of ‘I’m going to do that’ and ‘how do I do that.’”
Kerran showcased this confidence when she attended Mass Jam, a Scouting event, and came across an obstacle that she wanted to climb.
“I wanted to do it, but I was scared to do it, but I did it,” she recalled. “I didn’t make it to the top but at least I tried.”
As a child, Gomm was a Girl Scout. She loved the experience and imagined as a mother she would be involved in the program.
“I decided when I got married, me and my girls would go out and do Girl Scout stuff.”
But it didn’t work out that way. She and her husband, Martin, are the parents of six boys.
When their twin boys reached the age of six in 2001, Patty remembers telling Martin how much fun scouting was and that they should involve the twins in Boy Scouts.
Both parents became involved in the program, as did their twins. One is now a Life Scout and the other is an Eagle.
Gomm has not altered the structure of the program since the addition of girls to her Pack, noting that it is a program that works and “the kids love it.” She said the only differences in the Pack are that she now has two dens of each grade group included in her Pack, one for girls and one for boys, and that the uniforms are a bit different, and when the girls first started they wanted to be called the “Unicorn Den,” which she happily agreed to.
“In our Pack, a Scout is a Scout. You’re not a boy, you’re not a girl, you’re a Scout,” Gomm said. “We have a good program. If you do the program the way it’s written and you follow it the way it’s supposed to [be done], the kids will flock to you.”
In referencing her Pack’s high percentage of girls, Gomm explained that she had an advantage, since this past February it served as an Early Adopter Pack and accepted girls to the program earlier than other Packs. Starting this September, all Packs that wanted to add girls could add them to their program.
Pack 1 Warwick meetings take place Thursday nights from 7 to 8 p.m. at the Heritage Christian Fellowship Church at 358 Warwick Neck Avenue. Enrollment is open any time of the year. Contact Patty Gomm at 401-222-0920 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Gomm sees scouting as providing valuable life training, although at the moment she suspects those in the Pack – girls and boys – don’t think of it that way. Rather, they think of it as fun.
“They won’t realize how big this is until they’re older, These (girls) are going to be the first girls to make Eagle,” she said.