Girl Scouting marches on in region

By Dawn De Busk

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In her fifth year as a Girl Scout troop leader, Marie Caron poses with members of Girl Scout Troop 1963 on Tuesday at the Songo Locks Cafeteria. (De Busk Photo)

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Girl Scout troop leader Dani Longley uses a blow dryer for an art project (miniature encaustic collages) as the girls wrapped up their Legacy Artist badge on Friday. (De Busk Photo)

Staff Writer

Bridgton-based Girl Scout Troop 1747 had a warm climate in mind while they were selling cookies outdoors in Maine’s winter weather.

“Our troop did 11 booth sales this year. We sold in snow, rain and freezing cold weather. We are trying to raise money for a trip to Puerto Rico, and we sold almost 2,000 boxes of cookies,” said troop co-leader Denise St. John.

In addition, to holding a spaghetti dinner fundraiser, the troop plans to coordinate a car wash this summer to finance the Puerto Rico trip, she said.

St. John volunteered for seven years assisting leader Heather Silvia. For the past two years, St. John has stepped into the role of co-leader, a job she finds satisfying.

“I enjoy spending the time with my daughter, my co-leader and all of my scouts. We have an amazing group of girls who are different in so many ways; but they all get along great, work well together and support each other in scouts and outside of scouts,” St. John said.

“I feel like we are a family,” she said. “Three of our seven girls have been together for nine years, since they were Daisies in kindergarten,” she said.

“They are learning to be strong, independent leaders and businesswomen. They are also volunteering their time to help with causes that are important to them,” St. John said.

Last year’s cookie sales helped to fund activities for Troop 1747 such as their annual overnight adventure at Camp Pondicherry in January, and other trips to complete badge requirements. The troop signed up for a survivor course, which taught the girls martial arts and basic wilderness survival.

The month of March was a busy time for area Girl Scouts as young girls in various troops sold Girl Scout cookies to earn money for trips, badges and community service. Additionally, March 12 marked the 102nd year since Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts.

Leaders in the Lake Region commented on how girls in the 21st Century continue to carry on the mission that Low had in mind when she registered the first dozen Girl Scouts in 1912. According to the Girl Scout Organization, there are now 10 million young women registered as Girl Scouts worldwide.

Naples resident Dani Longley, the mother of a fourth grader, has been a leader for four years, since her daughter Carly was a Daisy.

Currently, there are 19 girls and three leaders in Troop 1743. The troop is comprised of girls in second through fifth grade who attend Songo Locks School.

“From what I understand, Juliette (Low) was a bright, energetic, well-rounded lady,” Longley said.

“She travelled widely, adored animals, overcame adversity — her deafness — never shied from getting dirty, lived through war, was a terrific athlete, loved with all her heart, enjoyed elegant tea parties and glamorous balls,” she said.

“Any young person would be well-equipped celebrating and imitating any or all of Juliette’s qualities,” she said.

“We three leaders focus on fostering a sense of cooperation and consideration. We want the girls to feel confident in a group of their peers; and it’s invaluable for them to be expressive,” Longley said.

In addition to the assistance of co-leaders Julie Akeley and Karen Durling, the dad of a girl in the troop recently used his skills as a medical professional to help girls earn their First Aid badge. He discussed when and how to seek medical help, how to be safe outdoors with friends, and covered splint basics, Longley said.

“Troop 1743 hosted five booth sales, and the girls upheld high personal goals as well,” she said.

Those cookie sales will finance an overnight event hosted by the Children’s Museum with a focus on the natural sciences, she said.

Debbie Goldstein has been a leader for seven years. The girls who started as Daisies are now first-year Cadettes at Lake Region Middle School.

“I enjoy seeing the girls mature, and be so helpful and supportive with one another,” she said.

This school year, Goldstein’s troop has completed three badges: Field Day, Animal Helpers, and Good Sportsmanship. In March, they began earning their First Aid badge. Activities for the Trees badge are slated for April.

“The Trees badge will tie into an Arbor Day field trip to Mark’s Lawn and Garden in Bridgton to select a tree to donate to the seniors and plant at Bridgton Health Care,” Goldstein said.

Scouting “prepares girls for the future with leadership skills, courage, confidence, and character,” she said.

Keeping with the motto “Girl Scouting is fun,” area troops throw in exciting and interesting activities with badge requirements.

According to Goldstein, “The girls really like to take field trips that are just for fun.”

On a recent Saturday, they went to Caravan Beads to make their own necklaces. With homemade posters in hand, they took a trip to the Maine Roller Derby and showed support for Samantha Ellis, aka, Zeldangerous.

“They love to go hiking. They plan to hike Jockey Cap Trail after bowling in Fryeburg in the late spring,” Goldstein said.

According to leader Marie Caron, the 11 girls in Junior Girl Scout Troop 1963 skipped the cookie booth sales this year. That’s because they sold 700 boxes of cookies collectively.

“We always have a huge brainstorming session and plan out what fun things that we want to do every year. Our troop doesn’t seem to need to spend a whole lot of money to have fun and make a difference in our community,” Caron said.

Already, the fourth-grade girls have a long list of accomplishments: Community Service patch by painting the fence at Naples playground; I Love Horses patch by raising $125 for bales of hay for the Maine Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals via a bottle/can drive; Gem Digging patch; I Love to Bake patch by baking dog treats; I Love Crafts patch by designing gingerbread houses and creating loom bracelets; Maple Syrup patch by going to Grant Plummer’s farm for sugaring demonstration and collecting sap. Plus, the girls applied the many uses of duct tape and earned the Tape Art fun patch.

The girls lead the meetings in which they earn their fun patches. Also, they have been exploring role models while earning the journey badge, a-Muse.

“We usually run out of time in the year before we run out of ideas of fun things to do,” Caron said.

“I enjoy giving back to my community. I like the values that the Girl Scouts teach. It is a wonderful experience for my daughter. I have fun doing everything we do,” Caron said.

According to scout leader Longley, there are so many paths girls can explore.

“The Girl Scouting program is infinite in whatever direction the girls want to take. The possibilities are endless; and, it’s great fun exposing the girls to new ideas, and seeing them find their way to fruition. The Girl Scout program encourages an age-appropriate progression in all sorts of experiences and learning,” she said.

“It’s all very interesting for us adults that help lead them along,” she said.

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