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. On their large property, her daughters play in the mud and raise hogs, crops and tadpoles, she explained, adding, "They're outside, in the trees, in the woods, always out for adventure." 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.
"We're just starting. That's a terrific start," he 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.
"We were part of that. Just offering our program to just boys was part of the problem, part of the problem of parents being pulled in so many different directions," Jenkins said.
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.
"When we did events of any kind, like the clean-up days, (the girls) were right there with their garbage bags, too, cleaning up alongside them. They'd go tubing with the boys, participate in ice fishing. 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.
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."