Bridging ceremonies are special events that signify a girl’s transition from one Girl Scout level to the next. In Zimmerman, MN this year, a bridging ceremony had special significance for Troop 13529 as they demonstrated leadership and the value of Girl Scout sisterhood. It all started with a little problem—how to get Cheradin’s wheelchair across a bridge that was too small.
Cheradin was using a wheelchair because she had surgery on both of her legs in March to fix tibia bones that did not straighten correctly after her birth. Cheradin is an incredibly active girl who plays hockey, was top cookie seller in her service unit this year, and has been top cookie seller in her troop since kindergarten. Her troop mates and troop leaders, Renee Leonard and Cassie Gallay, hatched a secret plan to get her across the bridge in true Girl Scout sister form.
The wheelchair was measured and it became obvious that it was too wide to wheel across the bridge. “We were trying to think of ways to get her across, like Renee would carry her, or I would get up and carry her, or my husband would carry her. And the girls of course said ‘No, we’ll carry her,’ ” Dee Ralph (Cheradin’s mom) laughed.
At rehearsal, Cheradin and her mom were surprised and touched to find out that Renee’s husband built a brand new bridge wide enough for the wheelchair to cross. The troop also decided that Cheradin would be the color guard so she would not be left out. But this was just part of the troop’s secret plan. More details would be revealed later at the ceremony.
The night of the ceremony, Renee told Cheradin that she would be last in her troop to cross the bridge. All of the girls in the service unit lined up, ready to take their turn and walk across. When it was time for Cheradin’s troop to cross, they all walked across one by one. Then the troop leader made an announcement, explaining that the troop never leaves anyone behind. And with that, every one of the girls in Cheradin’s troop walked back, stood behind her and pushed her up over the incline of the bridge.
Dee described her daughter’s reaction, “She was so excited and then she got all teary-eyed. It was very sweet.”
The ceremony marked the girls’ transition from Girl Scout Brownies to Girl Scout Juniors. It also demonstrated their courage, character and understanding of the true spirit of Girl Scouting. They took action to help and support a sister Girl Scout. “Isn’t that the epitomy of what we are teaching these girls to be?” Dee pointed out, “To care for each other?”