By CHANSE WATSON
KELLOGG — Cub Scout pack 8021 out of Kellogg has had a lot to celebrate lately. For one thing, the pack recently commemorated the founding of their organization with the “blue and gold banquet.”
Held at the Kellogg Elk’s Lodge building Wednesday night, the event was an opportunity to honor those who have put in hours of effort to get the pack to where it is, and to simply have some fun. The banquet was also one of the first opportunities that pack leader Earl Criger Jr. was able to get a visual of their recent (and sudden) membership growth.
Before their Jan. 24 meeting and recruitment night, Pack 8021 was sitting at 16 total scouts. This starting number was actually already an improvement, considering that the pack’s numbers were sitting at five in 2016.
After the meeting though, Criger was staring at 30 new applications that would more than double their starting number. The main cause for this massive influx in membership can be explained by the opposite of what Brother and his friends wrote on their club house in the Berenstain Bears book — “NO GIRLS ALLOWED.”
On Jan. 15, the Boy Scouts of America announced that selected packs from the Inland Northwest Council will welcome girls into their ranks. And it just so happens that Pack 8021 was offered to be one of the guinea pigs.
Criger explained that District Executive Tim Williams was the one who ran the idea past him.
“He called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it. I said I had nine trained leaders, so I had enough leadership to make it happen.”
With the staff and resources available, Criger and Pack 8021’s charter (American Legion Post 36 in Kellogg) gave the green light. Of the 30 new scout applications received on Jan. 24, 17 were from girls. Criger believes that the news of girls being allowed to join has raised awareness of the group and is largely responsible for the uptick in boy applications as well.
Boy Scouts of America explained in a news release that this situation with Pack 8021 is a soft launch for early adopters.
“The early adopter program was introduced after overwhelming demand from chartered partners, Cub Scout pack leaders, and local councils that are already prepared to provide the Cub Scout program to girls. The soft launch for early adopters will allow eligible packs in participating councils to officially register girls (K-4) in Cub Scouts.”
Criger described it being similar to “a soft release like how big businesses do.”
“It’s a pilot program… for girls to be in Cub Scouts,” he added.
During this “soft release,” the selected packs will allow girls grades kindergarten through fourth grade to join. The girls are placed in their own “dens” (sub-groups that make up the pack) and have a female den leader. Each den must have a minimum of four scouts and girls above the fourth grade will not be allowed to join until the official launch on Sept. 5.
The pilot program also requires the girls to earn their ranks by May 31. Ranks are given in accordance with what age group the scout falls under. For example, a first-grade girl would earn badges by completing tasks to achieve the rank of “tiger.”
Now boasting an impressive number of 46 scouts, Criger is happy to have the girls and is pleased with the mostly-smooth process of getting them registered. What makes him even happier, though, is the fact that the kids are coming in from all over the Silver Valley.
“We have scouts from Mullan, Osburn, Kellogg, Pinehurst and even Rose Lake,” he said. “That’s kids from all three school districts.”
Of course, this increase in membership could not have been done with the effort of just a single person; even if it almost was at one point.
“There have been times in the past where I have had five boys and I was doing most of it,” Criger explained. “If it wasn’t for these den leaders, there wouldn’t be a pack. I couldn’t do this by myself. I’ve been (here) 15 years and I’ve never seen Pack 8021 this large.”
Pack 8021 is a part of the Inland Northwest Council, that serves more than 8,500 youth across 17 counties in Eastern Washington and North Idaho.
For more information about Pack 8021, contact Criger at email@example.com.