EVERETT — For 108 years it was a boys-only club.
Now, Grace Davis is part of the pack.
The 7-year-old girl with bright blue earrings made history as the first girl to be a Cub Scout in the Mount Baker Council.
She now has a chance to achieve the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, just like her dad, uncle and great-grandfather.
Departing from century-old tradition, girls were allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America on Jan. 15. About 30 signed up in Mount Baker Council’s test “soft launch” of Cub Scouts dens for kindergarten through fifth grade.
The dens are single gender. Grace is among the four members in Pack 121’s new all-girls Tiger Cub den at Silver Lake Elementary School, where she is also a second year Girl Scout Daisy.
The Daisy and Tiger Cub meetings are back-to-back in the school cafeteria. This makes her a quick-change artist on the twice-a-month meeting nights.
At 5:59 p.m. she’s a Daisy in a vest, wrapping up the end of a troop meeting.
At 6 p.m. she’s a Tiger Cub in a button-down shirt and orange neckerchief with gold tiger clip.
For Grace, the clothes are the biggest distinction between the two sessions.
“You have a different uniform, and you have a hat,” she said of the Cub Scout getup.
Grace’s mom, Emily Davis, does double duty as a Daisy and den leader. She has to change her shirt, too.
“Both are great options for girls,” Emily Davis said. “When our son joined as a Tiger, Grace was 3 so she has been informally participating and kept saying, ‘When do I get to be a Cub Scout?’ ”
Dean Davis, 10, is a first-year Webelos — Scout-speak for “We Be Loyal Scouts.”
“I’m kind of glad my sister now gets to do it. It just seems fair,” Dean said. “How many times has she gone to my meetings and my pack times and not been able to do anything?”
Grace’s dad, Steven Davis, is on the Mount Baker Council board and an active Scouting volunteer.
“The Cub Scout program caters to our family because of our interests,” he said. “It’s a call to modern-day parents. We like to do things as a family. She has been around in tow and now she gets recognized for that.”
The rule that was passed by the national organization in October to include girls can be confusing, he said.
“From the public perception, I think a lot of people think, ‘Don’t they already have Girl Scouts?’ These are fundamentally different programs. They are two completely unrelated entities.”
Will there soon be boys joining the 25,000 Girl Scouts of Western Washington?
“Girl Scouts of Western Washington believes strongly in the importance of the all-girl, girl-led, and girl-friendly environment that Girl Scouts provides,” spokeswoman Stefanie Ellis wrote in an email. “Girl Scouts has more than 100 years of experience building a program tailored specifically to girls’ unique developmental needs.”
Ana Velasquez’s daughter, Edith, 6, is both a Daisy and newly minted Tiger Cub. “My oldest daughter in fourth grade could have joined, but she was like, ‘No, I’m going to stay in Girl Scouts,’ ” Velasquez said.
Before deciding to let girls in, the Boy Scouts loosened up in other ways. In 2013, openly gay Scouts were allowed to join and in 2015 it ended the ban on adult gay leaders. Last year, transgender troop members were welcomed.
Mount Baker Council, which serves Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and San Juan counties, has more than 6,500 Scouts ages 5 to 18.
In late February, 96 girls had signed up for Cub Scouts in the state and 840 nationwide. The full launch for female Cub Scouts starts in August. In 2019, Scouting troops will be formed for older girls.
“We are embracing this change,” Mount Baker Council Scout Executive Kevin Nichols said. “This really enables us to meet the needs of the families who are interested. Families of today are much busier and they are more diverse than ever. There’s a lot of dual earners. There’s a lot of single-parent households. Many of our underserved communities, including fast-growing Hispanic and Asian communities, actually prefer to participate in activities as a family. Families seem to have less free time, so we can offer a program where both the girls and boys can participate.”
The only visible change so far? A new wardrobe item.
“It’s called a skort, a skirt/short combination that is available for girls to wear,” Nichols said. If they want.
Men wear kilts. Can boys wear the skort?
“I have not had any questions come up regarding that,” Nichols said, laughing.
The Boy Scouts’ inclusion of girls in the U.S. might be groundbreaking here, but not across the pond, where Tim LaBoutillier is from.
“In the UK they started allowing girls into Scouts a long time ago,” said LaBoutillier, who has a son and now a daughter in Cub Scouts. “It changed the whole system for the better. Life is coed. To have a non-coed system is kind of strange in a sense.”
As a teen, LaBoutillier earned the Queen’s Scout Award, the equivalent to Eagle Scout. He wants similar avenues available to his daughter, Nicole, a Mukilteo third-grader.
“Being an Eagle Scout is a game-changer when you start into a career, college, everything else,” he said. “To give girls the opportunity to gain that award as well is important. It follows them for life.”
“It’s leveling the playing field,” added his wife, Leslie.
Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@herald net.com. Twitter: @reporterbrown.
Talk to us
- You can tell us about news and ask us about our journalism by emailing email@example.com or by calling 425-339-3428.
- If you have an opinion you wish to share for publication, send a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to The Daily Herald, Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206.
- More contact information is here.