The Boy Scouts of America are looking to establish a coed Cub Scout unit in Alexandria.
The BSA hopes to start a Family Unit in the community, which would allow both boys and girls in grades K-5 to participate in scouting.
Currently the closest Family Unit is in Carlos/Miltona.
"Part of the problem with starting a unit is that the education piece is not there," said Brenda Thomson, district executive for the Prairie Fire District. "People don't understand that Cub Scouts first of all is very different from Girl Scouts, and that girls can join Cub Scouts. Those are the two pieces that I've been working very hard on to try and educate people about, because they still think it's a boy-only program, and it hasn't been a boy-only program for three years."
Thomson said there currently are Scouts from Alexandria in the Carlos/Miltona unit, but it's not as easy to travel for those who live in the farther-outlying communities.
One of the first things that is needed to establish a Family Unit is a chartering organization.
"One of the responsibilities of a chartering organization is to help provide them with a meeting location," Thomson said. "That's why churches tend to be a better fit, because they can let them meet in the fellowship hall, or they have a little bit of extra space and can give them a closet or something to store the Pinewood Derby track for Cub Scouts."
The chartering organization itself needs a go-to person to communicate with the Scout group, or sign off on applications, such as when a new adult leader comes on board and needs signatures prior to a background check and youth protection training, Thomson said.
Scouts do not need to be members of the chartering organization to be members of the unit, she added.
Thomson said the BSA is also hoping to start a Scouts BSA Girl Troop in the community, which is for 11- through 18-year-olds.
"We do have the family unit in Carlos/Miltona, but once those girls reach the age of 10, there's nothing for them to do," Thomson said. "So that is another thing that we are looking at.
"There's Girl Scouts, but our programs are very different. We are more heavily focused on the outdoor aspect of it. We do the advancement and those sorts of things like they do, but the programs are very different," she said.
Boy Scouts of America has four areas of programming:
Cub Scouts, for grades K-5. Units can be boys-only, girls-only or a family unit where both boys and girls are able to participate.
Scouts BSA, for those aged 11-18, where boys and girls are in separate troops.
Exploring, which is career/interest-based. The Alexandria Fire Department currently has an Exploring Post.
Venturing, which is a coed program that specializes in specific activities, for example high adventure. There is not a Venturing program in Alexandria at this time, but Thomson said one might be started if there is sufficient interest.
For more information, Thomson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 320-760-5605.