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Bridging ceremony celebrates completion of Cub Scout journey

Cranbury Scouts color guard during the bridging ceremony on April 24 in Cranbury Township.

Cranbury Cub Scouts took a leap forward in scouting when they completed a bridging ceremony inside of First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury’s Fellowship Hall.

The bridging ceremony, which consists of Cub Scouts walking across a small wooden bridge, signifies that the Cub Scouts are leaving their pack to join the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts troops.

Cub Scouts are not the only ones who cross the wooden bridge – their parents take that walk as well during the annual tradition, which took place inside Fellowship Hall on April 24.

“It takes moms, dads and encouragement to help them get through. It will take more encouragement from moms and dads to get through their experiences with the scouting troops,” said Jerry Yochelson, cubmaster for Cranbury Cub Scout Pack 52. “That is why we have the parents cross that bridge as well.”

The Cub Scout grade levels are from kindergarten to fifth grade. There are 18 Cub Scouts, all fifth graders, who have now crossed over to join the Scouts BSA.

The Boy Cub Scouts who have now joined Cranbury’s Boy Scout Troop 52 are Arjun Padmasola, August Madison, Dennis Morgan, Jai Nayab, Joseph Boutureira, Kavin K., Kieran McCleary, Matthew Forst, Milan Patel, Nicolaus Kietlinksi, Thomas George, and Youssef Eltawansy.

“I was really excited and it is a pretty big accomplishment for myself,” Joseph said. “I wanted to continue going forward because of all of my friends. I look forward to learning more skills and achieving more accomplishments.”

Ed Kietlinski, Cub Scout leader of the graduating class of 2022, said they have seen Cub Scouts grow from kindergarteners to young men.

“I look forward to the BSA and giving them a lot more responsibility and great adventures,” he said.

Through Cub Scouts, many of them had gone fishing for the first time, they went hiking, did geocaching (outdoor activity looking for hidden stashes of objects), built bottle rockets, and went camping for the first time.

“I think the skills that they learned are going to help them in the future. This bridging ceremony signifies that there is future after COVID-19 and I think becoming adults,” Ed Kietlinski said. “This is a good first step to being self-reliant and self motivated and self-taught in some cases.”

Ed Kietlinski will still be with the 12 newest Boy Scouts as they now take on more responsibility in Boy Scout Troop 52. Boy Scouts grade levels go from fifth grade to high school seniors.

“The bridging ceremony ties together the skills they learned as Cub Scouts and Cub Scouts is really adult led. The adults are leading the meetings and organizing everything,” said Tim Brennan, scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 52. “We really transition them the first year we look for them to get through five ranks with some guidance from an adult. Like Mr. Kietlinski will help guide them through. From there on they are on their own to get to Eagle Scout.”

During the first year in Troop 52 the 12 new Boy Scouts will develop essential skills such as learning to tie knots and first aid.

“This was the largest group [crossing over] we have had in a couple of years for the boys. It was great to see the formation of the girls’ troop,” Brennan added.

An important milestone took place at the bridging ceremony the Girl Cub Scouts moving forward in scouting are founding the first Girl Scout Troop 52 in Cranbury. Scouts BSA started allowing girls in 2019.

“You are blazing a trail for the Cranbury girls after you,” Yochelson said in his remarks.

The six girls, who are now Girl Scouts, are Anya Kietlinski, Diya Mehta, Kamya K., Leila Aouhal, Shivani Mukkamala, and Skye Lowery.

“Six founding girls. We first started with two and grew it to six and there are other girls that will be coming up through the Cub Scouts,” said Nancy Kietlinski, leader for the Girl Scouts. “We look forward to new girls coming in and we have a lot to offer.”

The girls will learn various skills, take part in camping, and learn leadership skills.

“We are lucky to have a wonderful Boys Troop that has been so helpful and open to help the girls complete what they need to in their ranks,” Nancy Kietlinski said. “Coming from the Cub Scouts and having us as the leaders now coming into the Scouts BSA it is now going to be peer led. These girls are going to be leading themselves. I am just going to be in the background helping.”

She added that there was a need for the girls to move on and not end their journey in Cub Scouts.

“But be able to move on to Scouts BSA. I did not want them to stop the adventures,” Nancy Kietlinski said. “The amazing thing is that all of the other leaders and parents are very supportive.”

Girl Scout Anya Kietlinski said she enjoys camping the most when it comes to scouting.

“I want to be a part of Girl Scouts going forward. The bridging ceremony was scary because I have stage fright, but I had my parents,” Anya added. “It is something special to be a part of the first founding group for Girl Scouts Troop 52. I look forward to graduating to the end.”

Milan Patel (center) crosses the wooden bridge to Boy Scout Troop 52 in bridging ceremony at First Presbyterian Church of Cranbury.
Thomas George (center) receives Boy Scout neckerchief inside Fellowship Hall on April 24.
Anya Kietlinski (center) with Girl Scout neckerchief during bridging ceremony.
Leila Aouhal (center) gets ready to complete her walk across the wooden bridge in the bridging ceremony on April 24.
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