Girls Flock to Join Cub Scouts on First Sign-Up Day

The first girls recruits didn’t waste any time becoming official Cub Scouts in Pack 212 in northern Wisconsin, signing up the first day they could make it official on May 1. The Duluth News Tribune reports the youngsters basically want to do stuff outdoors like the boys.

Donning blue or tan Cub Scout uniforms, five girls from Northwestern Wisconsin said they want to swim, canoe, hike, kayak, camp and roast marshmallows — activities some of them have watched older brothers do as Scouts.

“It seems like fun,” Abby Huber said.

Isabelle and Abby Huber and Mary Catherine Jarman, all of Lake Nebagamon, and Hailey and Abby Monroe of Hawthorne were among the first girls in the Northland to join Cub Scouts on Tuesday, the first day girls could officially become part of the organization.

Altogether, some 30 girls in the area have already applied to join the local troop. Girls from kindergarten to fifth grade are now eligible to join the Cub Scouts, while the Boy Scouts will begin the transition to enrolling older girls a year from now.

Mary Catherine has watched her older brothers participate in Cub Scouts and was excited to wear her T-shirt denoting she was joining the youngest rank, for kindergartners.

“I want to join Cub Scouts to get badges and wear my uniform and go camping,” Mary Catherine said.

The Monroe sisters have been reading their handbooks since they received them. They wanted their mother, Andrea Wright, to read the books to them before bed, and they tell her to put them in her bag if they go anywhere.

The now-mixed sex Cub Scouts will meet as a whole at den meetings before dividing into two groups, girls with a female leader and boys with a male leader. Boys and girls will be required to meet the same standards for badges.

“It’s a wonderful new day for us and the world is changed today. We’re all anxious about it and very excited and happy and looking forward to seeing what happens,” said Michael Jenkins, Scout executive of the Boy Scouts of America’s Voyageurs Area Council.

But the Boy Scouts of America, re-branded as Scouts BSA, sounds far more accepting of the new arrangement than their counterparts at Girl Scouts of the USA. An AP report describes relations between the two organizations as “strained.”

The overall impact of the BSA’s policy change on Girl Scouts membership won’t be known any time soon. But one regional leader, Fiona Cummings of Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, believes the BSA’s decision to admit girls is among the factors that have shrunk her council’s youth membership by more than 500 girls so far this year.

She said relations with the Boy Scouts in her region used to be collaborative and now are “very chilly.”

“How do you manage these strategic tensions?” she asked. “We both need to increase our membership numbers.”

It’s far too early to predict how the Boy Scouts break with tradition will play out. But the 108 year old organization’s values clearly appealed to the parents enrolling their girls in Pack 212.

Isabelle and Abby Huber have wanted to be a part of Cub Scouts as they’ve watched their brother progress through the program, said their dad and Pack 212 Cub Master Tim Huber. Their mother Amy Huber, Pack 212’s secretary, said the organization teaches values they want to teach their children. She added, “It’s always nice when you have another entity backing up your parenting that basically says, ‘Do the right thing.’ ”

Mary Catherine has also watched her brothers participate in Cub Scouts, Hollie said. She added, “The Scout values are our family values and I bet you that Mary Catherine, at age 5, could say half of the Scout Law on her own.”