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Girls in Brentwood become LI’s first to join Boy Scouts

Scouts, parents and a den leader from Pack

Scouts, parents and a den leader from Pack 371 discuss girls joining the Boy Scouts on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. Credit: Newsday / Valerie Bauman

In her own words, Jasmin Fields-Robinson is making history.

She is among the first girls on Long Island to join the Cub Scouts following a decision last fall by the Boy Scouts of America to open up scouting to both genders.

“I actually feel very proud of myself for being one of the few girls that enrolled in Cub Scouts . . . (for) just making history,” the 10-year-old said.

Cub Scout Pack 371 in Brentwood is the first on Long Island to take advantage of a pilot program that is bringing girls into the Boy Scouts. The new den has had eight girls officially join the Cub Scouts — a phase of scouting typically reserved for boys age 10 and younger.

“These girls have been the silent witnesses to scouting for so long,” Cubmaster Jason Klosowicz said. “They’ve been kind of waiting in the wings to make their entrance into scouting . . . They’re all here because they believe in the values we have.”

In October 2017, the Boy Scouts of America board of directors unanimously approved plans to welcome girls into the Cub Scout program, and to offer an option for older girls that will allow them to earn the high rank of Eagle Scout.

The national organization started the process with the Cub Scouts, which will be available to girls nationwide in August, officials said. Several other Cub Scout packs in Suffolk and Nassau counties are also starting pilot programs and holding open houses to welcome girls into the fold.

Officials said that the decision followed years of requests from girls and their families, and was informed by research and input from current members and leaders within the institution.

“What we have noticed for the last several years is that most of the families that participate in our Cub program already do it as a family,” said Lauren Vlachos, chief operating officer for the Suffolk County Council, Boy Scouts of America. “The little sisters are tagging along . . . yet they aren’t able to get any recognition for their achievements.”

Jasmin was one of those girls, often attending her cousin’s den meetings, sometimes participating, sometimes just looking on and wishing she could be a part of things.

“I wanted to be a Scout because I was on the sidelines, sitting with the parents, watching my cousin do all the fun stuff,” Jasmin said.

Her cousin, Vincent Tyre, 10, of Central Islip, said he didn’t like it when his cousin had to be on the sidelines either.

“If someone says, ‘Oh now there’s girls in Cub Scouts, it’s going to change everything’ — some things will change, but in a better way,” Vincent said. “Now that there are girls, there are more people. . . . It’s just fun, so as people say, the more the merrier.”

For many of the kids it’s simply about being included, said Jamie Juarez, the leader of the new girls’ den. She has led Scouts for 10 years with her son, often presenting homemade honorary Scout certificates to the young girls who were participating but weren’t able to get recognition through badges and other honors.

Klosowicz and his wife, Jennifer Klosowicz, a den leader, said their pack was a natural fit for the pilot program because they’ve always had sisters participating informally, and that they actively sought to be among the first packs to induct girls into the organization.

Vlachos said that many of the girls interested in Boy Scouts are also in Girl Scouts, but they want to do more “high adventure activities” — which includes things such as kayaking, three-day hikes and backcountry backpacking — that aren’t as common among Girl Scout troops.

Whether it’s camping or building a pinewood derby car, the girls want to participate and get credit for their work, Vlachos said.

Existing packs may choose to establish a new girl pack, start a pack that consists of girl dens and boy dens, or remain an all-boy pack.

Cub Scout dens will be single-gender — all boys or all girls — but girls and boys can interact when dens come together at pack meetings, officials said. Using the same curriculum as the Boy Scouts program, the organization will also deliver a program for older girls, which will be announced in 2018 and projected to be available in 2019, that will enable them to earn the Eagle Scout rank.

Leadership at Boy Scouts of America also attributed the inclusion of girls to the reality of busy American families: It can make life easier for parents when two or more kids can participate in the same activity.

“We’re excited that we’re going to be able to serve the whole family,” Vlachos said. “That’s our goal: to prepare more young people with good positive experiences and teaching them leadership skills.”

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