On Monday, eight Ashland girls were the first to cross an old, wooden bridge traversed by countless boys before them. The girls arrived on the other side as official Boy Scouts of America, recently rebranded as Scouts BSA.
Their steps were the first of many toward equity and inclusion for all genders in a 109-year-old male-only organization.
"The bridging ceremony" is a time-worn tradition for Cub Scouts — kindergarten through fifth grade — to enter the Boy Scouts. Boy Scouts of America decided to include girls beginning Feb. 1.
Troop 112 accepted its new boys first by painting their faces with symbolic colors, and wrapping red and blue bandannas around a green piece of paracord hanging from their belt loops.
As the girls crossed, it was clear it was a new adventure for everyone. They didn’t have a line of members ready to welcome them on the other side, and some weren’t dressed in uniforms yet, but they giggled and skipped across the bridge with giant, triumphant smiles.
In the same symbolic fashion, they were adorned with purple bandannas and red paracord. One girl clipped the paracord to a belt tied around her dress.
The sanctuary at First Baptist Church filled with the Troop 112 boys and the new Troop 211 girls and their families. Once the girls were sworn in, the room exploded in applause and shouts.
“We are on the upward trail. We are on the upward trail,” everyone in the room sang in unison.
Magnolia Schnobrich, 13, has been preparing to enter Scouts BSA for a while now.
“It feels real now,” Schnobrich said. “I’m really excited.”
Chyna Crossett, 13, said she has watched her brother participate in the Boy Scouts for many years and always wanted to be a part of it.
“I feel great because I used to help with my brother, but now I can do it too,” she said.
The two patrols for the girls are called “Sassy Squatches” and “Howlin’ Wolves” and are separated by age groups.
Magnolia’s father, Ryan Schnobrich, is a third-generation Eagle Scout and performs as the troop committee chair. He approached the district with the request for an all-female troop as soon as he heard of the allowance last year.
“It’s so exciting that it’s real now,” he said.
Schnobrich said the troop met last week for the first time at their charter organization, the Ashland YMCA. He said the first few weeks will consist of learning about the uniforms, values, advancement and other basics, and they plan to pull out the cook sets and begin earning patches in about two weeks.
He said there are 14 girls registered for the troop.
For more information about the Ashland all-female Scouts BSA Troop 211, email Ryan Schnobrich at email@example.com.