PHOTOS: First Bay Area Girls Join the Cub Scout Ranks

When asked what she wanted to show the world now that she was in Cub Scouts, Katia Dyrby said: “That girls can be a part of things, too.” Her friend and fellow Cub Scout, Paige, chimed in: “That girls can be brave and they can be strong and they could do what boys can do.” Standing next to her is fellow Cub Scout Leo Zhou. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)

Graduation day for Cub Scout Pack 317 in San Jose was different from in years past: For the first time, girls were advancing through the ranks, following a historic decision by the Boy Scouts to let them participate in what had been, for more than a century, a boys-only program.

The pack was one of many Scouting units to make the change earlier this year before girls could officially enroll in June in all Cub Scouts programs nationwide. Pack 317 Cubmaster Chris Webb first broached the idea with the boys.

“There were a couple of them that gave me kind of a goofy, ‘yuck girls,’ kind of a response. But there wasn't a really big objection to it,” he said. “The parents were totally on board and we just decided this is the right thing to do. And so far, it's been great.”

“These girls are excited to be some of the first involved,” he said, adding that one of them could be the first Eagle Scout -- Scouting's highest honor.

That excitement was palpable on graduation day at Baker Elementary School in May, when the girls -- like the boys -- got their faces painted, received new badges and swapped out their neckerchiefs to show that they’d graduated to the next level.

Some fun at Baker Elementary School in San Jose with Paige Elorreaga testing out a pogo stick before the graduation festivities began. The girls integrated easily into the pack since they’d already been attending meetings with their brothers who were members and doing a lot of the same activities, said Cubmaster Chris Webb. “But since they weren't registered, they couldn't get recognition for the stuff that they were doing,” he said. Now that they are, they can “get the patches and earn the ranks, just like their brothers can.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Katia Dyrby, 9, graduated from wolf to bear rank (a pronouncement she made with a growl). “It's been a great year and I really loved it,” she said. “I love the outdoors activities and the things about nature.” Her brother, Alessio, is in Scouting and said of his sister: “She is an amazing Cub Scout and she's good at camping and hiking and everything.” When asked if she might one day achieve Eagle rank, Scouting’s highest honor, he said: “Probably.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Shivam Singhal and Samuel Tong prepare the flag for graduation. Under the system set up by the national organization, there are now three types of Cub Scout packs: all-boy packs, all-girl packs and packs that include a mix of girl dens and boy dens -- the same model will be used for the older youth in the Boy Scouts (now known as Scouts BSA). Webb, however, said that system wasn’t practical for Pack 317. “I took the initiative to say, ‘Hey, we're going to fully integrate,' which is a little outside of the BSA guidelines,” he said. “It’s been fine.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Justin Webb prepares the neckerchiefs for the graduates. Scouts enter the tent with the neckerchiefs of their current rank and exit with next year’s rank on their uniforms to signify advancement to the next level. Part of Pack 317’s signing up to be a part of the pilot program is they had to give the girls the opportunity to do their rank advancement, which normally occurs over the period of a school year. With the first girls joining in January, the pack had to condense the advancement program into a few months, Webb said. “We made sure that the den leaders (dens make up a pack) -- the parents that are putting on the program -- were willing to go through some of the material a second time to make sure that the girls had a chance to finish. And they did great. They actually got through the stuff really quickly.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Paige, 9, said her brother, Logan, inspired her to join Cub Scouts. She likes learning about badges, knots, putting up a tent and making fires. She said she and her parents spoke about how she “could make history by joining Boy Scouts. That feels really good and really awesome.” Logan quipped that the change has made it easier for parents so they can do the Scouting activities together as a family. “It's better for the parents, too,” his dad, Brian agreed, chuckling. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
“I think it's (being in Scouting) going to give Paige (coming out of tent) a lot of confidence, a lot of good values and morals for growing up and being a strong, powerful woman,” said her father, Brian. (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Jenny Barelli, left, used to informally join her brothers at Cub Scouts before the program opened to girls. “She thought all the things that the boys were doing was a lot of fun. When they opened it up to girls we asked her if she wanted to do it and she said, ‘sure.’ We all come, all together on Wednesday night, and it's really been a fun, fun family activity,” said her mom, Nicole Barelli. Scouting provides her “opportunities to try new things and she's a very athletic, active girl. They play a lot of games and it just gives her more opportunities to play with kids from our neighborhood.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)
Cubmaster Chris Webb gives Katia Dyrby the Cub Scout handshake. Girls can join Scouts BSA -- the program formerly known as Boy Scouts -- in early 2019. Webb said the only concern he has heard from boys about that upcoming change is “maybe the girls might take over some of the leadership positions and take charge. A lot of the boys in that age want to stand back and don't want to take on those leadership roles. And so now they'll have to put their game on and compete, right, because the girls are going to come in and really do well.” (Samantha Shanahan/KQED)

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