As the Boy Scouts of America begin to allow young girls to join the organization, a North Shore group is opening its doors to girls.
Steven Cahn, the founder of Cub Scout Pack 267 and Boy Scout Troop 267, said the pack will host an orientation geared to girls at 7 p.m. on May 15 at Temple Beth Sholom, which sponsors the Scouts and allows the groups to use classroom spaces for meetings.
“The great thing about this is for the first time, boys will be able to see that girls can participate on a completely level playing field and accomplish the exact same thing with no reduction in requirements, no allowance for difference in strength or size,” Cahn said. “It depends on what you do, not your size, your gender or your strength. That’s a huge benefit I’m not seeing anywhere else, and if we do this right, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”
The groups cover Roslyn, Roslyn Heights, Old Westbury, Albertson, East Williston, Williston Park and Searingtown, Cahn said, but any girl and her family are welcome to attend.
With the inclusion of females in the group comes a historic name change, with the organization dropping “Boy” from the main title to become formally known as Scouts BSA.
Cub Scouts ends once a member finishes fifth grade.
Within each pack are dens grouped by grade level, beginning with Tiger Cubs for first-graders, Wolf Cubs for second-graders, Bear Cubs for third-graders and Webelos for fourth- and fifth-graders.
Cahn said while the pack will be mixed gender, the individual den meetings will stay single gender, allowing boys and girls to develop separately while letting them interact for events such as the Pinewood Derby and camping trips.
Cahn said though the pack is hoping to recruit girls, the national standards for leadership require that each den have its own leader, with women leading the female dens and men leading the male dens.
According to the organization’s Two-Deep Leadership rule, no adult is allowed to be left alone with a child or group of children, so each group requires two leaders. Cahn said this rule will be critical when the Scouts hit puberty.
Beyond recruiting girls, Cahn said the idea is to recruit families, drawing male and female children into the group while parents volunteer as leaders and chaperones.
While the national organization is allowing girls for the first time, Cahn said many troops and packs, including the two based in Roslyn Heights, have often allowed girls to participate on field trips but they were never allowed to advance alongside their male classmates.
“Whenever we visit a firehouse or a museum, invariably we have the sisters attend, and they’re always welcome,” Cahn said. “Here, they’ve done all the work and fulfilled all the requirements, but they don’t get the recognition, and we all felt that was unfair.
“In our pack, we used to buy extra patches and hand them out. Even though they couldn’t advance from rank to rank, at least we could do something for the sisters that would make them feel included. This is a national way of doing that.”