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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/CHARLIE KAIJO Annabella Rose Tyburski (left) wraps a Scouts neckerchief around Ruby Freeman (right) during a crossover ceremony Feb. 2 at the First Presbyterian Church in Bentonville.

Ruby Freeman, 11, stood her turn at the front of a line of Cub Scouts, stepped on to a miniature wooden bridge and smiled before crossing over to meet her new Scout troop, 525.

Her father -- an Eagle Scout dressed in full uniform -- snapped pictures along with an audience of proud parents watching and waving as their sons waited their turn to cross the bridge too, an important right of passage in becoming a Boy Scout.

Get Involved

Anyone interested in joining Scouts BSA should contact Amanda Tyburski at (479) 426-5252 or email Troop 525 is actively looking to recruit new girls.

On Feb. 2, Ruby became the first girl in Northwest Arkansas to cross over from the Cub Scouts to a new program called Scouts BSA, a program geared towards 11-17 year-olds in the Boys Scouts of America that integrates girls into Scout troops.

Ruby watched her brothers Michael and Matthew take part in their own crossover ceremonies three years earlier. Like her brothers and father, she earned the Arrow of Light, the highest rank and award in the Cub Scouts, which a scout achieves by fulfilling at least 18 advancements.

Within a year, Ruby earned 27, maxing out the number of advancements a Cub Scout could fulfill, joining her brothers as Super Achievers, an award Cub Scouts have two years to earn. Only a few make it.

"I really like scouting because it's not something I just experience by myself. When I saw my brothers doing all of this stuff, it made me want to get in to it," Ruby said. "Whenever they did something, since I'm so competitive, I wanted to be as good as they were and even better."

Scouting has always been a family activity for the Freemans since Ruby and her siblings moved to Bentonville from Guatemala in 2014. For Annabella Freeman, Ruby's mother and assistant scoutmaster, it was a dream come true, seeing all of her children in the same uniform.

"When I became a mom, I loved that my husband was an Eagle Scout. Scouting is in his DNA. When the kids were at an age they could participate, that became part of our DNA as well," she said. "It was something that identified us as a family."

Ruby began scouting when she was 3 years old. Since scouting is co-ed in Guatemala, she could achieve advancements along with her brothers. But when they moved to the United States, Ruby continued scouting as an international scout while her brothers moved on to join the Cub Scouts.

It wasn't until the Cub Scouts started allowing girls to join in February 2018 that Ruby could finally begin earning her advancements -- but with only half the time that a typical Cub Scout is given before crossing over to the Boy Scouts.

Now a full-fledged scout, Ruby hopes to take it all the way and become the first female Eagle Scout. But for now she will join seven new friends for camp-outs, hiking and earning merit badges in her new all-girl troop.

NAN Our Town on 02/07/2019

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