By Mr. Wallace McBride (Fort Jackson)November 21, 2018
Addison Conley, 8, had no idea she would be the first girl allowed to join the Cub Scout pack on Fort Jackson. Conley doesn't express much interest in the distinction, casually brushing off questions about her status as a local trail blazer.
"I don't think it's that much of a deal," she said.
A look around the room during last weekend's pack meeting suggests none of the other scouts think it's much of a deal, either.
"A lot of these kids already know each other," said William Sexton, Cub Master for Pack 89. "They know each other from school or they know each other from the neighborhood. It's just another friend that's in the scouts. They don't understand the significance of it and our hope is that, in a short period of time, they'll all just look at each other like Cub Scouts."
"She's just another scout," said Addison's mother, Jade."And they're always excited to have another scout join the group."
From Cub Scout to Eagle Scout, the Boy Scouts of America are now admitting girls into all levels of their scouting program. Families began signing up their daughters to join the Cub Scouts earlier this year, with the Boy Scout program set to allow girls the opportunity to earn the rank of Eagle Scout in 2019.
Jade said her daughter began expressing an interest in the outdoors during a recent overnight camping event hosted by Fort Jackson's Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
When she found out Cub Scouts were beginning to admit girls, it seemed like the perfect avenue for her interests.
"This way she can do camping and other stuff outside, and it's easier with a group," she said. "The Girl Scouts were fine. It just didn't pique her interest like this has. It wasn't really about pushing boundaries because (the kids) don't really care about that."
Addison is the pack's first girl, but not the last.
"We already have two more signed up and we're just waiting on the paperwork to process," Sexton said. "Although girls can be full members of the pack, boys and girls must be in separate dens and (female members) must be headed up by female den leaders. Jade is our den leader, and she'll be den leader for the other two girls."
In addition to getting her daughter outdoors, Jade said Cub Scouts also offered opportunities for socialization.
"Moving around as a kid, it's hard to learn social skills at a young age, so I wanted to do some kind of group thing," she said.
"And no matter where we go -- even overseas -- they have Cub Scouts."
Given the long history of the Army leading the way in integration, the changes to Cub Scout national policy was something to be taken in stride on Fort Jackson, Sexton said.
"This should have happened 40 or 50 years ago," he said. "Most Cub Scout camping trips were always family-sponsored, anyway, so there were always kid sisters and older sisters and moms and dads attending Cub Scout camping."
Addison's first Pack activity was walking in the city of Columbia's Veterans Day parade last week. The next big project is collecting nonperishable foods for Scouting for Food.
Addison is the daughter of Staff Sgt. Ronald Conley, of the 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, who, along with Jade and daughters Annabelle and Addison, were 2018's Fort Jackson Family of the Year.