Texas City Cub Scout pack welcomes girls

Original story from the Galveston County Daily News

Zhane Johnson uses his hands to paint Vivica Northrup's face as she receives her Bobcat badge at the monthly Pack 274 meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Each color represents a different value and lesson Boy Scouts of America should emulate and learn.

Zhane Johnson uses his hands to paint Vivica Northrup's face as she receives her Bobcat badge at the monthly Pack 274 meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Each color represents a different value and lesson Boy Scouts of America should emulate and learn.

More than a year after the Boy Scouts of America announced it would allow girls to join its ranks, a Texas City Cub Scout is finding her way.

Vivica Northrup, 9, started scouting this fall after receiving a flyer from her teacher at school. Her father, Zhane Johnson, was immediately accepting.

“She came up to me one day and told me she wanted to do scouts,” Zhane said. “It was easy for me to say OK.” 

In October 2017, Boy Scouts national Board Chairman Randall Stephenson said: “It is time to make these outstanding leadership development programs available to girls.” The Boy Scouts of America directors voted unanimously for the expansion. The decision came after years of receiving requests from families and girls, as well as research with families, communities and within the organization itself, officials said. 

This summer, Cub Scouts, the program for children 7 to 10 years old, welcomed girls around the nation.

Vivica is now the only girl in Pack 274, which has 28 kids in six separate dens.

Vivica Northrup does a spin into a meeting room before reciting the Boy Scout pledge with her den at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Northrup is the first girl to join Pack 274 and has been loving every minute.

Vivica Northrup does a spin into a meeting room before reciting the Boy Scout pledge with her den at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Northrup is the first girl to join Pack 274 and has been loving every minute.

From left, J.T. Trumbature, Gavin Gutierrez and Vivica Northrup recite the Boy Scout Oath before their weekly den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Cub Scouts must memorize the oath before they can receive their first patch.

From left, J.T. Trumbature, Gavin Gutierrez and Vivica Northrup recite the Boy Scout Oath before their weekly den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Cub Scouts must memorize the oath before they can receive their first patch.

 'I’M THE ONLY GIRL’
Although there was a pack at Our Lady of Fatima School in Texas City that has more girls, Vivica decided to try Pack 274 at First Christian Church, which is in her family’s neighborhood. All it took was the first couple of meetings to feel at home in the Bear den, she said. Because most of the six members of the den go to school together in Texas City, it was easy for Vivica to ease into the group, she said. 

“I like that I’m the only girl,” Vivica said. Den leader Tara Webb and pack leader Randy Drinkwater, however, were hoping for more girls to participate.

“I don’t think girls make a difference at this age,” Webb said. “The boys accepted her and did not even realize she wasn’t allowed to be in at some point.”

Adding girls into Cub Scouts when they are 7 to 9 years old is ideal, Webb said. The dens start becoming really close as they age and it’s harder to be added when dens and packs have been established, Webb said.

“Randy still prepared the older boys for a potential girl to join,” Webb said. “They would have been accepting of the change considering what they are learning.”

LEGAL CHALLENGE
On Nov. 6, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America after it announced it would drop “Boy” from the name and start welcoming older girls in 2019.

Girl Scouts in the lawsuit argued gender distinction between the two organizations and their use of the term “scouts” has been altered by the Boy Scout’s decision to open services to all genders. 

As Boy Scouts of America continues to rebrand and expand its reach, Girl Scouts said the change would cause confusion as well as damage the Girl Scouts’ trademarks and its services. Although there’s some backlash in the Boy Scout’s decision to allow girls to join, the Boy Scouts of America continues to relay its recent message of inclusion.

Before becoming her son’s den leader four years ago, Webb was a leader for her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

“Honestly, there is not a big difference between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” Webb said. “The badges and activities are different, but everyone is advancing toward leadership and independence, someway, somehow.

Vivica Northrup looks over to her dad, Zhane Johnson, while painting a homemade mbira with her mom, Jamie Johnson, at her weekly Cub Scout den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. The den made the African musical instrument to learn about a new culture and use their hands for a creative task.

Vivica Northrup looks over to her dad, Zhane Johnson, while painting a homemade mbira with her mom, Jamie Johnson, at her weekly Cub Scout den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. The den made the African musical instrument to learn about a new culture and use their hands for a creative task.

Vivica Northrup plays with her newly painted mbira at the weekly Cub Scout den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Den leader Tara Webb makes sure to remember to bring supplies that boys and girls would both like to use.

Vivica Northrup plays with her newly painted mbira at the weekly Cub Scout den meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. Den leader Tara Webb makes sure to remember to bring supplies that boys and girls would both like to use.

‘ALREADY GAINING FROM THIS’ 
On Dec. 6, the Bear den will travel to the 21st Century, an after-school program in Texas City, to share Vivica’s testimony and attempt to recruit new boys and girls to its pack. 

The den spends its meetings at First Christian Church in Texas City going over the Scout pledge, values and motto and then working on a creative activity or learning a skill for a badge. 

In November’s pack meeting, Vivica received her Bobcat, which is the first badge every scout earns. 

“Typically, they start at a younger age,” Zhane said. “But this being the first year, they are catching her up.” 

To receive her Bobcat, Vivica had to memorize the Scout oath, know the values and motto and get her face painted by her father during a traditional reading. 

“This was something I always wanted to do as a kid, but never had the chance.” Zhane said. “It’s been fun getting involved and doing this as a family.” 

Vivica’s father and mother, Jamie Johnson, attend every meeting with her and Zhane serves as co-leader for the den. 

“We’re already gaining from this,” Zhane said. “It’s given us more family time and a hobby to do together.” 

One of Vivica’s favorite activities has been learning how to whittle using a pocket knife for one of her first belt loops. 

“She was pretty scared to use a pocket knife, but she did it with everyone,” Jamie said. “She’s conquering fears and getting more confident.” 

Vivica is looking forward to being able to experience more from Cub Scouts, she said. 

“I’m excited to go camping,” she said. “I’m really, really ready to learn the BB gun, as long as it’s safe.” 

Vivica’s family and den plan to keep supporting each other as they grow through the Boy Scouts of America, they said. 

“The happier it makes her, the happier it makes us too,” Zhane said.

Vivica Northrup smiles after receiving her first Boy Scout patch with her dad, Zhane Johnson, at the monthly Pack 274 meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Northrup is excited to continue her journey as a Boy Scout and experience more adventurous activities.

Vivica Northrup smiles after receiving her first Boy Scout patch with her dad, Zhane Johnson, at the monthly Pack 274 meeting at First Christian Church in Texas City on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. Northrup is excited to continue her journey as a Boy Scout and experience more adventurous activities.