Girl Scouts active in community goodwill projects
For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts have been working on their mission of building girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.
Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout Troop 102 years ago this Wednesday, on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga.
The Girl Scouts are an American institution, chartered by Congress in March of 1950, and are still growing strong, according to the organization's website, girlscouts.org.
Today, there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts - 2.3 million girl members and 890,000 adult members working primarily as volunteers.
Many of the troops have more than one level or age of scouts, according to Area Manager Gina DeCarlo.
The girls move up through the ranks of scouting, including Daisies, Brownies, Juniors, Cadets and Seniors.
Working toward that mission of courage, confidence and character, the scouts meet once or twice a month, sometimes more. The activities vary depending on ages, according to DeCarlo, but, "The girls meet other girls, from other schools, and they learn a lot of skills and a lot about themselves."
DeCarlo, who worked with her daughter's troop as she was a scout from kindergarten through 10th grade, said she remembered teaching girls to sew and other skills that they'll have for a lifetime.
Lisa Spencer, leader of Troop 5218 in Wakefield, said the Junior scouts in her troop recently worked on a energy badge.
"They call it a journey," Spencer said of the work. "There are several steps. We learned about energy and recycling, and recycled paper - making paper from paper. We put it in a blender, laid it out and dried it."
Spencer's troop also did work on a Staying Fit badge, this journey had five steps.
"They're all geared towards moving toward the next level," Spencer said.
The troops spend time fundraising, including the current annual Girl Scout cookie sale. DeCarlo said they also do a sale of other items including candy, nuts and magazines in the fall.
"The girls learn something about business with the cookie sale, including making change," DeCarlo said.
Spencer, who has been a troop leader for five years, has been Area Cookie Manager for three years.
Each troop decides how to spend the money it raises. Many of the local troops attend the annual Girl Scout camp, or Summer Fun Days, in early June at the Extension Camp at Little Girl's Point.
On Saturday, a few members of Troop 5425 of Bessemer was set up in front of Wal-mart selling cookies.
Tracie Wittla, co-leader of the troop, said the girls were raising money for an overnight trip to a wildlife sanctuary in Ely, Minn., in May, along with a stop at a water park in Duluth. The troop has 18 girls registered between Junior, Cadets and Seniors.
Wittla said the troop will also participate in the Summer Fun Days in June.
There are lots of options for spending the money raised, according to Wittla.
"The younger girls go bowling or to the movies, while the bigger kids will go horseback riding or overnights somewhere, whatever they have an interest in," said Wittla.
But scouting is not all about fundraising, DeCarlo said.
The girls volunteer to help at the Paavo Nurmi Marathon and Sisu Ski Fest, as well as planting flowers and caroling at local nursing homes. The girls also make greeting cards for nursing home residents to send to their relatives.