Nora Moulton has been an honorary Cub Scout since she was 4 years old. That is because her mother, Angela Moulton, is her older brother’s troop leader, and used to bring Nora along to meetings and events.
Nora learned the same skills as her brother and his friends but wasn’t able to officially join the organization until last year, when the Boy Scouts of America voted to let girls into their ranks.
Nora, who is now 9 years old and is going into fourth grade at Underhill Central School, said she was excited to join her own troop last fall. She now spends time with children in her rank, one year behind her older brother, and she gets belt loops for the new skills she learns like the other Scouts do.
“I wanted to do it because I was tagging along with my brother for four years,” she said. “I was happy when the girls could join because I would get to be in my own troop with some of my friends. And I think girls should be able to join because it’s really fun to go out adventuring and sing different songs.”
Moulton was thrilled when the Boy Scouts said they would allow girls to join, but when that policy changed, it was not guaranteed that every troop would admit girls, at least not right away. Moulton was part of the effort to get troops in their area to make the change.
“You needed permission from your sponsoring organization. So we went to the church that sponsors us and had their agreement and approval,” Moulton said. “We had some good debate, but it was pretty well decided that we would follow the council.”
During the debate, Moulton said some objected to the change on the grounds of tradition, saying that the Boy Scouts should stay for boys only. Others voiced concern that too many girls would sign up and the system would be overwhelmed. This has not been an issue so far.
“It ended up being just Nora, and they were like, ‘Oh, she’s already been with us forever anyhow.’ So it was a nice transition, pretty easy,” Moulton said.
The troops in Underhill decided to let girls join in the fall of 2018, when all new Scouts join for the year.
Nora said she has not received any negative attention for being the only girl in her troop, but when she joined in the fall her troop leaders would sometimes forget to change their language.
“Sometimes they forgot there was a girl, because they’re used to saying ‘boys’ and not ‘girls and boys,’” she said. “It took them a minute to remember.”
She said now her leaders remember “most of the time.”
Nora was a Girl Scout for one year, back when she was 7, but she says she likes Cub Scouts better because the activities align better with her interests.
When asked what she likes about the Cub Scouts, she said, “They have banging on the table, which is really fun. And singing songs. They do less banging on the tables at Girl Scouts.”
Moulton said her daughter enjoyed her time in the Girl Scouts, but the activities were really different.
“You earned patches for listening to a story or making up a dance with the girls versus here you get a patch or a belt loop for whittling and cooking on a fire,” Moulton said.
Part of the reason for this disparity is that there are fewer Girl Scout troops in the Underhill area, which leads to a wider range of ages per group.
“They run multi-age, so they can’t meet the needs of each level as easily,” Moulton said. “When you have a kindergartner and a fifth-grader or a sixth-grader in one meeting, you end up doing things like dancing, reading stories. ... It ends up having to be more one size fits all.”
Moulton said the transition has been slow, but more girls are joining Boy Scouts. Nora was one of four girls at Boy Scout sleep-away camp called “Camp Sunrise” in Benson this week. At camp, Nora swam in the lake — her favorite activity — shot BB guns, went hiking, built fires and went fishing. This was her first year at the camp, and she said she loved all the outdoor activities. As a fourth-grader, Nora is a Webelo this year, and she said she’s excited for Cub Scout meetings to start back up in August.
For her part, Nora’s mother is happy her daughter found an activity with her friends that she enjoys.
“Nora’s the kind of girl — and there’s a lot of girls like Nora — who really enjoy being hands-on and outdoors,” she said. “It’s nice to have a well-rounded activity for her to be part of.”