PITTSBURG — Over 100 children descended on Lakeside Park in Pittsburg on Saturday, for the Boy Scouts of America’s Hooked on Scouting event.
The event gathered new Cub Scouts from a 5 county area, including scouts from Pittsburg, Frontenac, Arma, and Girard, to get together and learn basic fishing skills.
Scouts were each given a new fishing pole, a small bag of basic tackle, and were then lead through several stations manned by adult volunteers and other boy scouts.
The young scouts were sent through eight stations around the park including ones that taught them about fishing knots, lures, rules and safety, identifying fish and casting. Following completion of the stations the scouts earned the Hooked on Scouting Fish Patch.
The learning of new skills is why several parents at the event said they enrolled their children and grandchildren in scouts.
Jamie Jackson, who brought her 9 year old grandson, Paul LaTurner to the event said she hopes the skills he learns will motivate him to enjoy nature.
“I think it’s an excellent way to learn new things,” Jackson said. “Scouting gets them off of electronics and out into nature in a hands-on way.”
One new addition to the Cub Scouts this year is the decision by the national organization to open the program up to girls. A move which was very welcome news to 8 year old Isabel Gapehart.
Isabel said she had wanted to join the scouts from the time she was 3 when her older brother joined. She said that she was sad when she wasn’t able to be involved, but excited when her parents, who volunteer with the scouting program told her they might change the rules. Isabel found out she would be allowed to join with a very special Christmas present last year.
“I opened this present at Christmas, and it was very soft, and I wondered what it was,” Isabel said. “Then I opened it and it was a this, (pointing to her scouting uniform top) and I was so happy.”
Isabell is one of many girls who attended the event. Their parents gave many reasons for their daughters joining, from a simple of love of the outdoors, to a desire to follow in an older brother’s footsteps with the scouts, to an appreciation for the value system of the Cub Scouts. All were in agreement they were glad the rules changed.
Jennifer Tolley whose 6 year old daughter Cailyn was happily clutching her fishing pole at one of the stations said she was relieved at the rule change.
“When her brother started out she was bawling that she couldn’t join, she really wanted to be a part of it too, and she didn’t understand she couldn’t,” Tolley said. “So when they announced they were going to allow girls too she was right there ready to go.”
Cailyn said she was excited to go fishing and learn new things.
As did sisters Zoe and Elody Taylor. They were excited to go fishing and learn new things, but Elody had her eyes on the end game. When asked what her favorite part of the day was she smiled and pointed to her badges. “I want the fish badge,” she said.
Boy Scouts of America District Program Specialist, Michelle Smith-Puckett, said the inclusion of the girls is an important step for the program, because it lets families to attend events together without leaving anyone out.
“We are really embracing this change because it allows families to come and do events together,” Smith-Puckett said. “Girls have always been involved with parts of our organization, but now they can earn the merit badges and ranks they deserve.”
According to Smith-Puckett the changes will continue as Boy Scouts of America welcomes girls into it’s higher ranks in February of 2019. Girls will even be able to work towards the coveted rank of Eagle Scout.
Smith-Puckett said that although they are making changes to who is in scouts they are not changing the program. Parents can still count on scouting for all the same events, lessons, and badges as always.
“Scouting teaches life-long skills for every child,” Smith-Puckett said. “It also teaches values that I think are lacking in today’s society.”
For more information on cub scouts residents can visit beascout.org.