Arya J., 8, wants to be the first female Eagle Scout in the state of Montana.
She pauses for a long moment when asked what earning Eagle Scout would mean to her and looking up from under her yellow and blue Wolf cap says “Honor.”
As the BSA welcomes the entire family into Scouting, Pack 4923 of Bigfork, MT, was among the first in the state to register girls. Eight female Cub Scouts registered in February of 2018.
Ayra may have a bit of competition in advancement from her older sister, however. Sasha J., 10, a Webelos Scout, is on her way towards completing the Arrow of Light requirements. Sasha was one of two girls in Pack 4923 – along with Gabrielle T., 11 – to earn their Webelos badge.
The BSA announced last October that it is now possible for the whole family to participate in Scouting – and Sasha’s family is thrilled to take advantage of that opportunity. Sasha and Arya’s father, Shawn, 37, is an Eagle Scout, their oldest brother Jeremiah, 14, is an Eagle Scout, and their other brother Jacob, 12, is a Life Scout.
“These are life skills. It’s not about girls and boys,” said their mother Gina J., 44. “It’s about being a well-rounded individual and being productive and feeling successful. It’s about being confident and knowing that you can do whatever it is you set your mind to.”
Many of the Pack 4923 families have stories from the past of younger daughters looking up to, watching, emulating and following along with older siblings and their Scouting adventures – even if badges could not be earned officially at that time.
“Our whole family can be a part of this now,” said Laurell H., mother of Annie H., 8, and Oliver H., 11. “We can do things as a team.”
To celebrate the induction of daughters into Scouting, the families gathered for a cookout at Grizzly Base Camp and touted the benefits of better time management in their schedules. Most importantly, they said they see growth in responsibility and leadership among the rest of the family.
In Sasha and Arya’s family, their brother Jacob is Den Chief of Arya’s Wolf den and brother Jeremiah is Den Chief of Sasha’s Webelos den.
“The whole reason they are Den Chiefs is because their little sisters joined the Pack,” explained their father.
“(Scouting has) helped the boys come out of their shells too and do things – like be Den Chiefs – that they may or may not have done in the past,” added Gina. “(Jeremiah’s) done all of these things that’s kind of pushed his envelope a little bit and opened up an opportunity to do things that he may or may not have done ordinarily.
Cubmaster Keri Barr continually sees the benefits that Scouting has brought to this remote Montana community.
“They needed a place where the girls could be Montana girls,” said Barr. “They could go hiking, they could go camping, they could be in the outdoors and not spend all their time learning out of a workbook.”
Exploring the natural world, acquiring skills and going to camp are the topics most enthusiastically referenced among the new recruits when asked the reasons they are proud to be a part of Scouting.
“It’s just that you can actually go and do stuff and be out in the wilderness,” said Gabrielle whose father, Eric, is an Eagle Scout and whose grandfather was also in Scouting.
“I still have all my books, my uniform – I have everything,” Eric said. Adding that because his girls are a part of Scouting, “I can share all those things that I learned and that I kept.”
Like most Scouting families in Montana, “It’s stuff we’ve been doing anyway,” he said. “But now it’s official.”
For more information about Family Scouting, visit https://www.scouting.org/familyscouting/.
Story adapted from Scouting Wire, submitted by Lido Vizzutti of the Montana Council