5 Barrington-area girls become some of the first female Cub Scouts

 
 
Updated 6/13/2018 9:54 AM
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  • The newest girls in Cub Scouts, Addison Carver, 6, from left, Willow Youkhana, 6, and Kate and Lucy Vraniak, both 8, practice forming their fingers for the salutes they learn for the Scout Oath during the first meeting of Den 9 of Cub Scouts Pack 229 at the Barrington Park District Recreation and Fitness Center in Langendorf Park.

      The newest girls in Cub Scouts, Addison Carver, 6, from left, Willow Youkhana, 6, and Kate and Lucy Vraniak, both 8, practice forming their fingers for the salutes they learn for the Scout Oath during the first meeting of Den 9 of Cub Scouts Pack 229 at the Barrington Park District Recreation and Fitness Center in Langendorf Park. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Nick Szela, left, Lucy Vraniak, George Kircher and Caden Carver play a game as they march in the woods during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin.

      Nick Szela, left, Lucy Vraniak, George Kircher and Caden Carver play a game as they march in the woods during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • A former Scout and now a dad, Dave Szela talks about knife safety during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. The pack is among the first in the region to include girls.

      A former Scout and now a dad, Dave Szela talks about knife safety during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. The pack is among the first in the region to include girls. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Addison Carver plays with her Elsa doll in her tent during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. Addison joined Cub Scouts this February as one of the first 13 girls in the suburbs to take part in the program.

      Addison Carver plays with her Elsa doll in her tent during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. Addison joined Cub Scouts this February as one of the first 13 girls in the suburbs to take part in the program. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Cub Scout leader Laurie Carver of Lake Barrington teaches a salute to new scouts, Addison Carver, 6, and Kate and Lucy Vraniak, both 8, of Tower Lakes, during the first meeting of Den 9 in Cub Scouts Pack 229. This den is among three "early adopter" units in the area that began including girls for the first time earlier this year.

      Cub Scout leader Laurie Carver of Lake Barrington teaches a salute to new scouts, Addison Carver, 6, and Kate and Lucy Vraniak, both 8, of Tower Lakes, during the first meeting of Den 9 in Cub Scouts Pack 229. This den is among three "early adopter" units in the area that began including girls for the first time earlier this year. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Lucy Vraniak, right, hikes during a Cub Scout campout at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. She and four other girls in North Barrington Pack 229 are among the first to join Cub Scouts after the organization opened its ranks to their gender last fall.

      Lucy Vraniak, right, hikes during a Cub Scout campout at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. She and four other girls in North Barrington Pack 229 are among the first to join Cub Scouts after the organization opened its ranks to their gender last fall. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • New Cub Scout Addison Carver, 6, of Lake Barrington gets help with her hair and cap from her mother and Cub Scout leader, Laurie Carver, during the first meeting of Den 9 of Pack 229. While the pack is one of three "early adopters" to allow girls, all Cub Scouting units in the region will be open to female participants ages 5 to 10 beginning June 11.

      New Cub Scout Addison Carver, 6, of Lake Barrington gets help with her hair and cap from her mother and Cub Scout leader, Laurie Carver, during the first meeting of Den 9 of Pack 229. While the pack is one of three "early adopters" to allow girls, all Cub Scouting units in the region will be open to female participants ages 5 to 10 beginning June 11. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Cub Scout Matthew Kalt of Barrington Hills, left, and Lucy Vraniak of Tower Lakes recite the Scout Law during a meeting of Cub Scouts Pack 229 at North Barrington Elementary School.

      Cub Scout Matthew Kalt of Barrington Hills, left, and Lucy Vraniak of Tower Lakes recite the Scout Law during a meeting of Cub Scouts Pack 229 at North Barrington Elementary School. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Boys and girls watch a skit during a meeting of Cub Scouts Pack 229, one of the first in the region to allow girls before all Cub Scouting units will be open to female participants June 11.

      Boys and girls watch a skit during a meeting of Cub Scouts Pack 229, one of the first in the region to allow girls before all Cub Scouting units will be open to female participants June 11. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Lucy Vraniak, 8, of Tower Lakes works on her boat for a sailboat regatta with help from Cub Scout leader Laurie Carver of Lake Barrington during a meeting of Den 9 in Cub Scouts Pack 229 that included girls as full members.

      Lucy Vraniak, 8, of Tower Lakes works on her boat for a sailboat regatta with help from Cub Scout leader Laurie Carver of Lake Barrington during a meeting of Den 9 in Cub Scouts Pack 229 that included girls as full members. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

  • Addison Carver, Lucy Vraniak, Nick Szela and Kate Vraniak look for hiking sticks during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin.

      Addison Carver, Lucy Vraniak, Nick Szela and Kate Vraniak look for hiking sticks during a campout with Cub Scouts Pack 229 at Kettle Moraine State Forest in Wisconsin. Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer

Five Barrington-area kids are among the area's newest Cub Scouts, but here's the twist: They're girls.

The little ladies in kindergarten through fourth grade were among the first to join Cub Scouts earlier this year after the Boy Scouts of America opened its programs last fall to young people of their gender in what's called Family Scouting.

Starting Monday, these five are likely to be joined by more of their female peers, as all participating Cub Scout units in the area will open to girls ages 5 to 10.

The decision to allow girls was met with mixed reviews and generated debate about whether single-gender environments or programs open to all are the best way to teach girls and boys to grow into women and men.

The idea behind the effort at inclusion, Boy Scouting leaders say, is to adapt to the needs of busy families. Parents want all their kids involved in one Scouting program -- instead of separate activities -- to ease scheduling demands.

Starting Feb. 1, 2019, the inclusion will expand to older girls ages 11 to 17.

The new policy was seen as a major shift for Boy Scouts, a 108-year-old organization that recently moved to diversify its ranks by removing bans on openly gay Scouts and leaders and by allowing transgender members who identify as male.

Some Girl Scout leaders, however, say the change may not create the best formative opportunities for young ladies.

Girl Scouts of the USA has researched girls' learning tendencies for decades and developed its activities in response, said Nancy Wright, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

"These experiences are customized with girls in mind," she said. "It creates opportunities for them to thrive individually that they may not be getting anywhere else in the world."

Boy Scouts, meanwhile, created programs "designed with boys in mind and girls just added on," Wright said.

But locally, the opportunity for girls to join Boy Scouts is being applauded by some parents who say there's nothing wrong with giving kids more options.

"I think it's great that there's more choice," said Hani Majeed of Naperville, whose 9- and 11-year-old daughters are involved with Girl Scouts through the Islamic Center of Naperville. "Politically, I know there are all these debates. But just as a parent, I think it's a great idea."

Early adopters

Cubmaster Tony Kircher, who leads Pack 229 based out of North Barrington Elementary School, agrees.

Kircher called the inclusion of girls "one of the best things that I've ever seen happen." He said his group was excited to be on the forefront as one of three "early adopter" packs in the suburbs, which allowed girls before all packs participating in Family Scouting can begin to do so this month. Siblings of boys who are already members became the first girls to join, no recruiting necessary.

"For our pack, it was natural for us to bring the girls in. They were already part of our pack family," Kircher said. "We were just thrilled when we could officially make them Cub Scouts."

For the North Barrington girls, already so familiar with Cub Scouts, little has changed.

But the shifts -- like getting uniforms and learning the Scout sign, oath and law -- have created meaningful equality.

Last year, when 6-year-old Addison Carver's older brother, Caden, joined Cub Scouts, she tagged along. She went on the same camping trips and hikes but got frustrated when she wasn't included in crafts, projects, badges and competitions.

"She had already seen a lot of what they did and experienced it," Addison's mother, Laurie Carver, said. "She's going and doing all these things, but she's not quite a member."

Until this year.

North Barrington's all-girls den had its first meeting Feb. 25. It was a big moment for Addison and her peers to be the Scouts they'd only watched in the past.

"She was excited she got to be in a uniform," Addison's mother said. "Being allowed to be more active in it will be good for her."

Single-gender so far

So far, girls are allowed into Cub Scouting in their own single-gender groups, called dens. Girls ages 5 to 10, the youngest allowed into Scouting, were the first to join. A total of 13 girls in kindergarten through fifth grade are involved with new all-girls dens in the suburbs in North Barrington as well as Oak Park and Park Ridge.

And as the organization allows in older girls starting next February, they eventually will be able to join boys in achieving the highest rank of Eagle Scout, said Kate Jacobs, director of marketing and communications for the local Pathway to Adventure Council of Boy Scouts of America.

"Cub Scouts has always been a family program, so there's no need for the program to change," Jacobs said. "It's exactly the same."

Well, check that.

One thing has changed, Kircher said, and that's terminology. As soon as his pack became an early adopter of girls' inclusion, he said, he updated the website to use gender-neutral language.

"I used to address 'You boys,'" he said. "Now I have to make sure that I'm saying 'You Scouts.'"

Scouts involved with the early all-girls dens are hoping one more thing will change, creating further cohesion and more convenience.

Instead of separating girls and boys into their own dens, which meet about twice a month for activities, and gathering them together only during monthly pack meetings with a larger group, Family Scouting participants hope both dens and packs can be open to all genders soon.

"The wise course of action is to have mixed-gender dens and make sure that you have mixed-gender leadership as well," Kircher said.

It's tough for Den 9 to come up with activities suitable for girls in kindergarten and in fourth grade. The age difference is a big deal for kids that young, which is part of why leaders say they'd prefer mixed-gender groups of kids the same age. But leaders and female Cub Scouts are making do.

"We're nothing if we're not rule followers, we Scouts," Kircher said. "So we're doing our best with it -- that's our motto: 'Do your best.'"

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