The Staten Island Cub Scouts have welcomed their first-ever female member.
Grace Gaffney, a fourth grader, is now a Cub Scout in Pack 88 in Saint Charles Church in Staten Island, the Greater New York Councils of the Boy Scouts (GNYC) announced on Wednesday.
GNYC, a local council of the Boy Scouts of America that serves the New York City area, also announced that girls from kindergarten to fourth grade are officially eligible to join Early Adopter Cub Scout packs throughout the five boroughs.
“Here in New York City, with so many kids that don’t have any kind of programs, I personally and professionally believe there are lots of girls that want to be Girls Scouts and do the kind of things Girl Scouts do, and I think that’s great — we have a good relationship with the Girl Scouts here,” said Ethan Draddy, Scout Executive of the Greater New York Councils.
“But there are also little girls that aren’t in any program and they want to do the things their brothers do or they want to be outdoors doing outdoor programs,” he added. “For those girls, the Boy Scouts of America has decided to open up the Cub Scout program to include them.”
New York City was one of the select scout councils allowed to start recruiting girls right now, Draddy added, before the national program rollout this coming fall.
Excited for the future of Cub Scouting in NYC. Packs can decide with their chartering organization to be early adopters, hosting girl dens alongside the boys already in the program. Learn more at: https://t.co/LAxkVxO803 pic.twitter.com/Pv67v2EIH7— BoyScoutsGNYC (@BoyScoutsGNYC) January 17, 2018
Draddy said that he hasn’t heard any controversy around the decision in the city and that he’s excited to open the program to see young girls get the same benefits from Scouts as boys do.
“The essence of scouting here in the city — whether you’re in Scouts for a few months or a long period of time — is that having somebody in your life who cares about you is a big deal, helping you learn right from wrong and helping you make good decisions,” he said.
“Scouting values and activities help to develop strong character and leadership qualities, and our programs, as well as the Scout Oath and Scout Law, are as relevant for girls as they have been for boys,” he added.
Grace joins her brother in Pack 88 alongside her father, who is a cubmaster. Many young girls have previously participated unofficially in Boy Scouts programs, according to the organization, through parents or brothers who were involved, and girls older than 14 also currently participate in Exploring and Venturing programs, which have been co-ed since 1971. The new program allows girls to achieve the Boy Scouts’ highest rank of Eagle Scout.