It might prove difficult to wipe the smile from the face of 10-year-old Mariam Tarazi.

The rising fifth-grader at Scioto Darby Elementary School cannot wait to achieve her Arrow of Light rank in Pack 148 of the Cub Scouts and begin her journey in Scouts BSA next year.

She is on track to be among the first wave of girls eligible to join the program formerly known as Boy Scouts, which had been limited to boys. The Cub Scouts' name will remain unchanged, though its ranks will be open to girls, too. Both programs are part of the Boy Scouts of America.

"I feel really happy and proud, too," Mariam said.

The 10 girls in Pack 148, which is chartered by the Hilliard United Methodist Church, represent the greatest number in any of the eight Cub Scout packs in the Simon Kenton Council to advance girls at a ceremony May 22 at Scioto Darby Elementary School, said Cassie Ferguson, community-relations and marketing director of the Simon Kenton Council, which is composed of 17 Ohio counties in central and southwestern Ohio and Greenup County in Kentucky.

The 49 girls in the eight packs were part of an "early-adopter" program that began in February, said Heather O'Bannon, 51, Mariam's mother and den leader of Pack 148, in which girls and leaders already familiar with Scouting began working toward advancement.

Others included Pack 150 in New Albany, Pack 256 in Pickerington and Pack 365 in Worthington, according to Ferguson.

For Mariam and her mother, participating in Scouting has been a lifelong experience.

As far back as the early 1970s, girls were permitted in other programs of the Boy Scouts of America, such as Explorers and Venturing.

O'Bannon's father was the leader of an Explorers post for girls when she was growing up in Maine, she said.

O'Bannon has four other children – all boys – who participated in Scouting; two of them achieved the rank of Eagle Scout and all of them inspired Mariam.

But Mariam's chances to follow in their footsteps didn't come until the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts recently chose at the national level to open their ranks to girls.

The "early-adopter" program launched earlier this year was part of that chance, but beginning June 1, all Cub Scouts – the program for children in kindergarten through fifth grade – and Scouts BSA – for sixth to 12th grades – organizations can accept girls, Ferguson said.

Cub Scouts will have all-boy packs, all-girl packs and blended packs, but Scouts BSA will have separate troops for boys and girls, she said.

"It's something we considered and discussed and vetted with all our councils," said Jeff Moe, CEO of the Simon Kenton Council.

The template, he said, already was in place as the sisters of Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts "often tagged along" to events.

Including girls in an official capacity was a sensible next step, Moe said.

Although the new policy has been received in an "overwhelmingly positive" manner, Moe said, a few exceptions have been found.

"There are, and we knew there would be, traditionalists who believe it was just fine the way it was," he said.

Meanwhile, O'Bannon said, she is thrilled to be a den leader and looks forward to the pack growing.

As it does, separate dens with separate leaders would be added for all the den ranks, such as Lion, Tigers, Bears, Wolves and Arrow of Light, she said.

More girls could lead to the establishment of other packs, O'Bannon said.

Mariam is just excited to get started.

"I want to get merit badges in archery and horseback riding," she said.

kcorvo@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekCorvo