Cub Scouts kicking off year

ELKINS — A local cub scout troop is gearing up for their 2018-19 year with a kickoff event in downtown Elkins.

At 7 p.m. Monday, Cub Scout Pack 88 will be holding their annual “Cub Scout Campfire” event at the Elkins Railyard.

The event is open to Elkins area youth in grades kindergarten through fifth grade. Both returning cub scouts and new recruits are welcome to come, and those interested in learning about the group are urged to attend and make s’mores.

“It has become an annual tradition to begin our program year with a campfire,” Aaron Talbott, den leader, said. “Two of the purposes of Cub Scouting are developing good citizenship and having fun. This event allows us to meet those purposes. It is truly a bonding experience for our scouts and families.”

This year is unique in that it is the first year that the national organization of Boy Scouts of America has decided to allow girls to join both Cub Scouts and what will become known as Scouts BSA.

“As a father with two daughters, I am happy to welcome girls into our pack. Girls have been present at nearly all of the activities my son and I attended last year, so it is not as drastic a change as some might think,” Scott Biola, cub master, said. “The difference is that now girls can participate in a more meaningful way and be recognized for their achievements.”

The national policy is that packs are to form all girl dens with at least one female leader for each of those dens. Those dens are welcome to participate in activities with other all boy dens and are part of the same pack, so therefore can take part in pack activities.

Nationally, many parents have been looking for activities where all of their children could be involved. This is an effort to accommodate the needs of those families and expand the benefits of the program to more people, Biola noted.

“With Cub Scouts historically being a family organization, women have held leadership roles in the program for many years,” Shannon Smith, den leader, added. “I think having strong female leaders throughout the transition is critical. It will provide young girls with positive role models that both boys and girls alike can look up to as the program evolves into being truly family friendly.”

Pack 88 meets at First United Methodist Church in Elkins. Pack meetings are usually the second Monday of the month. Dens are smaller groups that typically meet one to three times on their own to work on rank advancement and earning “Adventure Loops” by taking part in activities designed to help scouts grow physically, mentally and spiritually.

An informational, and question and answer session specific to new parents will be offered at 7 p.m. Sept. 6 at the First United Methodist Church.