Girls make history as they join the Boy Scouting in Greenwich
GREENWICH — On Thursday evening, nine girls in beige uniforms stood in a line and prepared to make history.
As Richard DiPreta slowly recited an oath, some of the girls raced ahead of him — they already knew the words.
Then, they thought through the character traits their new stations embodied: Trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.
Finally, with the awarding of a bobcat patch, all nine girls became Cub Scouts as the the first female inductees at the Greenwich Council.
The Boy Scouts of America announced in October that it would accept girls to its programs — a major shift for the century-old organization. Charlotte DiPreta, Alaina Agarwal, Katherine “Katie” Muir, Yachi Chen, Adelaide “Addie” Healy, Elizabeth “Libby” Byxbee, Coco Lee, Vanya Kapur and Lily Yardis are the first girls in town to join.
“I think it’s a really momentous occasion for all of us. It’s really great for the girls to be exposed to something different,” said Roli Agrawal, Vanya’s mother.
For some, the change was long overdue.
Four of the girls had brothers in Pack 23, said Cindy DiPreta, a cub master, den leader and mom. Before the policy change, girls had to attend meetings and events as sisters. But they didn’t have the opportunity to ascend through the ranks and never received the recognition they deserved for their participation, she said.
One of those girls was the DiPretas’ daughter, Charlotte.
“She was always disappointed and would ask me, ‘Daddy, why can’t I earn the patch or the adventure loop?’” Richard DiPreta remembered.
Charlotte, who is 7 years old, will also finish her year in Girl Scouts. But her mother said she hasn’t identified with the program, which focuses on fostering female artistry as opposed to an appreciation for the great outdoors or practical life skills.
“It’s a lot of what I consider stereotypical coloring and crafting week after week after week,” said Cindy DiPreta.
Though she added that there is always time for arts and crafts, she saw the typical activities at Girl Scouts as gendered and was excited for her daughter to learn how to hike, tie a knot and use a compass just like her older brother.
“My daughter doesn’t see herself as a girl. She sees herself as a youth. And I think that that, being on equal footing … has to start at a young age,” said Cindy DiPreta.
For the male Cub Scouts in Pack 23, who sat in the audience supporting their new female peers, adding girls to the Council was a welcome change.
“I think they want their sisters to be involved,” Cindy DiPreta said. “I think they saw their pain.”
Guoliang Wang, whose daughter Yachi joined Pack 23, said her son was eager to show his sister the ropes. He told Yachi that he already knew everything, and he would introduce her to everyone so she was sure to have a great experience.
As Cub Scouts, the girls will participate in activities that foster scientific knowledge and handy skills. In the past, Cub Scouts in Greenwich have mixed chemicals, done forensics for fingerprints, built models that move without batteries, and visited an observatory to watch the stars, to name a few adventures.
The girls will also be given leadership opportunities to have their voices heard. Every meeting, each Cub Scout is asked to opine on something. For girls, that kind of valuing of their outlook could prove revolutionary.
“At this age, women empowerment is important, and that’s what scouting is all about,” said Richard DiPreta. “Now, the girls can do all the things that the boys can do.”