Eric Overgard is an avid Scouting volunteer. In nearly a decade in Westport, the technology project manager has moved up the ranks from Cub Scout organizer, fundraiser, pinewood derby head and pack leader to Boy Scouts committee member.
His son Alex was a Cub Scout.
Now his daughter Vanessa is too.
That’s right. This year, the Boy Scouts of America open their ranks to girls.
Westport’s Pack 39 is one.
It’s a no-brainer for Overgard. And a natural fit for his daughter.
“Scouting is a family activity,” Overgard — who was a Scout himself in Houston, before graduating from Wilton High School in 1987 — says. “Vanessa had been going on activities with us for years. She was disappointed when we told her girls could not be Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts.”
By coincidence, the Overgards were on an Appalachian Trail hike when the news came that the Scouts would admit girls.
Vanessa was thrilled.
Troop 39 cubmaster James Delorey encouraged Overgard to organize a Westport girls’ den. He’s doing that now, with a group of 3rd graders.
Why not Brownies?
“The typical Boy Scout activities are things the Girl Scouts don’t typically do,” Overgard explains. (Just as Cub Scouts is the younger version of Boy Scouts, Brownies is the lead-in to Girl Scouts.)
“Both organizations have been gender-based. In this day and age, we should eradicate that. As a parent, I want my daughter to have the opportunity to explore the ‘masculine’ side as well as the ‘feminine.’ I do beading with her. Now we can do whitewater rafting together too.”
He notes that although the Boy Scouts are accepting girls — and the requirements for activities are the same — Pack 39’s new den will be gender-separate.
That allows girls to choose electives they like. Vanessa and her fellow Cub Scouts have so far chosen critter care (caring for animals, talking to veterinarians) and “bear picnic basket” (cooking and nutrition).
Feedback has been very positive, Overgard says. But, he adds, “I live in Westport. I’m sure some areas of the country are adamantly against girls in Boy Scouts.” He notes that the United States is the only country where Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts have not already been open to girls.
Overgard hopes to expand Cub Scouts to girl dens in grades other than 3rd.
To do that though, he needs something that all Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops everywhere rely on more than anything else: parent volunteers.
(To learn more about Westport’s girl Cub Scout den, click here or email Pack39Westport@gmail.com.)