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Northland girls become Cub Scouts

Rory O'Donnell, the Arrowhead district executive with the Voyageurs Area Council, hands out Boy Scouts of America coins to five girls joining Pack 212 during a ceremony Tuesday marking the first day girls could join Cub Scouts. Lisa Kaczke / lkaczke@duluthnews.com1 / 2
Andrea Wright of Hawthorne, Wis., posed for a photo with her daughters and new Cub Scouts Abby Monroe and Hailey Monroe in front of the Boy Scouts of America sign at the Voyageurs Area Council office in Duluth on Tuesday. Lisa Kaczke / lkaczke@duluthnews.com2 / 2

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.

"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.

The five girls and their parents gathered at the council's office in Duluth on Tuesday morning for a small ceremony to mark the occasion. One by one, they declared that they were joining Pack 212 in northwestern Wisconsin and put on their new Cub Scout hats.

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 organization's activities fit with Hailey and Abby Monroe's interests and personalities, Wright said. By signing up her daughters, Wright said she hopes to instill in them the self-confidence, self-esteem and leadership values that are "critical" to go far in life.

The Voyageur Area Council has received about 30 applications from girls wanting to join Cub Scouts so far, Jenkins said.

Recruitment usually happens in the fall, but the council began recruiting girls on Tuesday because they want them to be able to begin participating in activities right away, in addition to going to day camps this summer.

Girls who will be in kindergarten through fifth grade this coming fall can join Cub Scouts, and older girls will be able to join Boy Scouts beginning next spring. Girls will be in girl-only Dens with a female leader and they'll complete the same program with the same standards as the boys' Dens. Den meetings will begin with the boys and girls together before separating for the program, according to Jenkins.

There are plenty of organizations with varying offerings for children, Jenkins said, but by allowing girls to participate, families can keep all of their kids in the same activities.

During Tuesday's ceremony, parents said their daughters have unofficially been a part of Cub Scouts for years because they've been brought along to their older brothers' events and family camping trips. Hollie Jarman, mother of Mary Catherine and Pack 212's committee chair, pointed out that the only change is that the girls are now official participants.

"The inclusion of girls means that they, too, get to wear the uniform and earn badges and participate in the Dens and make those friendships that are going to last, hopefully, through their whole school year so they can encourage each other to keep doing the right thing," Hollie said.