For years, Grace Gaffney and her friends would attend Cub Scout meetings at Saint Charles on Staten Island because their brothers were members.
They would sit on the sidelines and watch as their brothers engaged in physical activities and earned badges for their achievements.
But once a decision was made to let girls join the Cub Scouts, Grace and her friends jumped at the opportunity to finally be a part of it all.
“I joined because I like going on hikes, I sometimes go on the camping trips, I like to roast marshmallows and because I’m mostly here playing around too,” said Grace, who hopes to one day attain the rank of Eagle Scout. “I may as well join and win awards and do all the cool things. Girls can do anything they want to do.”
Leila Nunez also took advantage of the opportunity to join. “I thought it was cool to go camping and set up tents and learn how to do all the stuff the boys do,” she said.
While the national group that oversees the Scouts okayed the admittance of girls, the decision on whether to do so was up to each individual pack leader. For Pack 88, the first in the city to allow girls, there were no hesitations .
“This was a very natural progression,” said committee chairperson Brianna Gonzalez said. “They were thrilled that they could finally actually earn what their brothers were earning. It was just such an easy transition, and they’re good. They work just as hard, if not harder.”
Some of the girls, including Grace, participate in Girls Scouts as well. Girl Scouts offers more camaraderie and indoor activities, while the Cub Scouts focus more on physical accomplishments and preparedness for the world.
“I like the fact that she learns how to handle herself,” said Grace's mother, Therese Gratto. “Times are different now and she has to learn how to handle herself in groups of people, in the outdoors, walking around the woods, walking around the street. She’s got to learn everyday life.”
Grace’s father, Cub master Joe Gaffney, is very excited about the opportunities his daughter will receive.
“I think it’s great, they’re having a lot of fun doing the activities, they enjoy doing the hikes,” he said. “We were out hiking in the rain a couple of weeks ago, and Grace even had to lead the hike herself.”