NORTON, Mass. (AP) — Ally Crawford, a 10-year-old girl from Norton, sat on the edge of her chair last Sunday as she watched dozens of handmade wooden cars dart down a huge yellow ramp, eager to see if hers would win.

For someone who had been to the Cub Scout Pack 27 Pinewood Derby before, she seemed extra excited this time around.

That's because last year when Ally attended the event, she was there as a family member of her brother Ian, a Cub Scout at the time.

This year, as she sat next to the other boys in the troop, she wasn't just someone's sister, she was a Cub Scout herself.

"This is the first event I get to go to as a real Cub Scout," Ally said with a smile on her face. "I've been a Cub Scout for two weeks."

Thanks to a decision by the Boy Scouts of America in October of 2017, girls are now allowed to become members of the Cub Scout program, where they can learn and advance alongside their male counterparts.

For girls like Ally, this decision meant she could finally be a part of the group that she's been working with for the past three years.

"She was able to participate in the activities they opened up for siblings," said Donna Crawford, 49, Ally's mother. "She's been working with them for years, but now she gets to officially call herself a Cub Scout."

Michelle Sparks, a Pack 27 cubmaster, said that Ally was always eager to see what the boys would be doing next to see if she could participate herself.

"And I kept saying, 'yes she can,' 'yes she can,'" Sparks said. "I always knew she was going to ask, so I always wanted to make something for her."

"She was pretty much doing all of the work but getting none of the credit," said Beth Strojny, another Cub Scout leader. "I'm very happy about this. Ally has always excelled in the activities, and everyone has been very supportive."

Even though Ally was a member of the Girl Scouts, she said that the program never did the kinds of activities that she wanted to do.

"We used to go camping inside a lot," Ally said. "When I got to go camping with my brother, and I got to go fishing. I even caught an eel. I also passed the swim test, so I could go swimming wherever I wanted."

Strojny said that the Cub Scouts focus more on outdoor activities than the Girl Scouts. She also said that she thinks the Cub Scouts are going to see a lot more girls join next year.

"We already have some girls who we know are interested," Strojny said. "Ally has definitely driven us in this direction."

Both Strojny and Sparks said that there has been unanimous support and encouragement from the Boy and Cub Scout leaders as well as the parents of the boys involved.

"I haven't seen anyone being unwelcoming," Strojny said. "The boys are all very welcoming too. A lot of them already knew her, so she's made lots of friends."

According to Donna Crawford, the Cub Scouts were always more willing to accept girls than the Girl Scouts were to the boys.

"Our experience with the Girl Scouts was that they weren't as welcoming to (Ally's) brother," Crawford said. "The kids were fine, but the parents sometimes weren't."

For Crawford and her husband, having both of their children in the same group also makes transportation much less of a hassle.

"For us, we're both working, and so it was hard to be there to take them places," Crawford said. "This way is much easier for us, and Ally is happy."

Crawford and Strojny both encouraged parents with young girls to look into joining the Cub Scouts.

"I think you should check out both and see what they're both about," Crawford said. "And then let your child decide where they feel most comfortable."

As for the derby, Ally explained that after receiving a kit including a block of wood, two axles and four wheels she and her fellow scouts were tasked with creating a car that would be raced in the derby.

But regardless of whether her car was chosen to move onto the regional competition, it was still a proud day for Ally and her family.

"There's been a lot of fun stuff to do," Ally said. "I'm really happy."




Information from: The (Attleboro, Mass.) Sun Chronicle,