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A new school year means many new things to consider and choices to make for your child.
One of these choices is what extracurricular activities to sign your child up for.
Scouting is something that may spark and interest in both you and your child and may be just what you are looking for.
Scouting is an affordable activity for most families, with the cost to sign up being just $12 for Girl Scouts and $15 for Boy Scouts.
Boy Scouts start with first-graders as Cubs and Girl Scouts begin in kindergarten as Daisies. The small troops stay within the same age range and move up into the different levels together.
Cubs (ages 7-10) become Boy Scouts (ages 11-17). Daisies (kindergarten-grade 1) become Brownies (grades 2-3), Juniors (grades 4-5), Cadettes (grades 6-8), Seniors (grades 9-10) and Ambassadors (grades 11-12). Both boys and girls ages 14-21 can join Venture Crews, a co-ed group run through the Boy Scouts.
Scouting has a long history. The Boy Scouts started in 1910. Girl Scouting will celebrate its 100th anniversary on March 12, 2012.
Typical meetings start out with pledges, oaths and laws or core values Scouts learn. Most Scout meetings are held weekly or bi-weekly in local churches. There are troops throughout the county so they will be convenient to everyone interested in joining. Some Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops meet at the same times and locations to make it easier for parents of multiple children who may be involved.
Both organizations are community-service-oriented and focus on teaching Scouts about having good character.
The general public often thinks of Girl Scouts as the three C’s – cookies, camping and crafts, said Cherie Ellis, Community Development Manager for the Girl Scouts of South Carolina-Mountains to Midlands Council. Although those are three fun activities, the real three C’s in Girl Scouting are courage, confidence and character.
“The program provides children with the leadership and basic skills that they need as they grow and mature,” Ellis said. “They learn to be proud of who they are and learn to communicate that to others.”
“Lifetime values are learned,” said Art Harris, district executive for York County through the Boy Scouts’ Palmetto Council. “We are trying to build leaders for tomorrow. You never know when you’re developing the next mayor, fire chief or police chief.”
Both organizations use a badge and uniform system to distinguish the individual Scouts and their accomplishments. Harris mentioned the ESPN acronym they use, which stands for Every Scout Personally Noticed. Both organizations also have programs your child can continue in throughout their school years, as well as scholarships for exceptional Scouts.
Both organizations also welcome children of races and ability levels.
“We don’t distinguish between color and race. We are all the same group – a family,” Harris said.
And that’s another great reason to choose Scouting – it promotes spending time with your children and family time. Both organizations revolve around the family unit and encourage parental involvement.
“We want to recruit the family,” Harris said. Family activities include camping trips, and the Girl Scouts hold a local annual father/daughter dance.
“We provide families opportunities to be involved with their girls,” Ellis said.
Volunteering with either organization is also a great way to stay involved with your child and spend time with them. Both organizations are always looking for willing volunteers and volunteering always looks good on a resume.
Sign ups for both organizations begin with the start of the school year and are advertised through the schools and in the local paper.
Parents may sign up children in grades one through five for Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts at 7 p.m. Thursday at any of the county’s 11 elementary schools. Elementary school children will receive a registration flyer in the upcoming days. Harris said middle school boys will have the chance to sign up for Boy Scouts near the end of September.
New sponsors or churches that are available for meetings are always welcome. If you are interested in becoming a sponsor or other Scouting programs, please call Ellis at (803) 374-9994 or Harris at (803) 493-5969.
To learn more about Girl Scouts, visit www.girlscouts.org. To learn more about Boy Scouts, visit www.scouting.org.