On their honor…for the last 100 yearsMost people see the girls this time of year -- clad in the classic green garb of a Girl Scout vest or sash -- hitting the streets to sell cookies.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Most people see the girls this time of year -- clad in the classic green garb of a Girl Scout vest or sash -- hitting the streets to sell cookies.
This year holds special significance as the organization marks its 100th anniversary with various activities, including festivities March 10 and 11 at Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.
Membership Specialist for the Girl Scouts of the Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, Pauline Wangen, says there are 195 Girl Scouts in River Falls.
- 51 Daisies – Kindergarten and 1st grade
- 75 Brownies – 2nd and 3rd grades
- 47 Juniors – 4th and 5th grades
- 21 Cadettes – 6th, 7th, and 8th grades
- 1 Senior – 9th and 10th grades
Wangen said about 75 adult volunteers help and guide those scouts. Nationwide, Girl Scouts has 2.3 million girl members and 890,000 adult members who work as volunteers.
The organizational mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Scouting strives to provide activities in science, technology, business, economic literacy and outdoor and environmental awareness -- along with opportunities for fun and friendship.
Brownie Troop 55180 consists of 14 girls, mostly 3rd graders and a few 4th graders, according to co-troop-leaders Patti Blair and Heidi Hanson.
Blair said she became a troop leader when her daughter, who’d grown tired of attending Cub and Boy Scout meetings, wanted to become a Girl Scout. The leaders enjoy seeing the girls brainstorm ideas of how to help the community then put them to action. One of their service projects, for example, has been picking up trash during the annual Kinni River Clean Up; this year it will be a toy drive.
The girls say they joined for the camping, cookie sales and because they always wanted to a Girl Scout. They especially enjoy the activities at Camp Lakamaga and the annual one-day Fall Fest.
Junior members of Troop 53791 took turns manning the cookie-sales table at Shopko the afternoon of Sunday, Feb. 26. Working the table from 3:30-5 p.m. were 11-year-old 5th graders from River Falls, Claire Wulf and Celie Mangelsen. If people told them they already had cookies, they’d cheerfully reply, “Thanks for supporting Girl Scouts.”
One man stopped at their table, paid for two boxes of cookies, and told the girls to give them to the next person who wanted them. Wulf and Mangelsen confirmed that Girl Scouts usually sell the cookies door-to-door first then take to local retail locations.
Troop leader Meg Herrerra says the Scouts changed about three years ago to the cookies-on-demand method of selling, where they have the cookies with them instead of ordering on a form.
Herrerra, who also leads Brownie troop 53707, says the older girls just earned their babysitting licenses, which entailed lessons in child development, certification classes through the Red Cross and a field trip to a hospital maternity ward to see a one-day-old baby girl.
Wulf has been a scout for about six years and says her favorite activity so far was robotics camp, where scouts built a running car and a working pulley system. Mangelsen has about two years in scouting and says she enjoys camping and the cookie sales.
The girls said their activities are usually connected to earning a badge, doing community service, or both. Their architecture badge included touring City Hall, generating a report on architect Frank Lloyd Wright and producing a model.
Herrera says the troop is working toward its big Bronze award, the highest for their level, which involves making tie-end baby blankets to donate, collecting baby supplies, earning babysitting certification and volunteering for child care.
She calls the troop a great, cooperative group who work well together and are great outdoor cooks and campers. She adds with a smile: “I think they were eight when they dug their first latrine.”
Troop 51109 met Sunday evening to talk about earning its Silver Award project -- the highest level a Cadette can achieve and which requires each member to contribute 50 hours of effort.
Most of the group of eight members are 13-year-old 7th graders. They said before they can begin work on their Silver Award, they must first make a plan then pitch it to the Girl Scout Council for approval -- including how it will last and be sustainable. The girls decided to work on holding a book drive and helping a local animal shelter.
Troop Leader Kathy Bennett says five of the eight troop members have been together since they were in first grade -- other members joined soon after.
The girls -- Brandi Bennett, Maddie Bond, Elizabeth Gunderson, Caileen Hughes, Madeline Kieren, Talle Klewicki, Cassandra Laidlaw and Rachael Wakefield -- explained some of their activities and service projects.
They go to schools and help younger kids learn to read; the troop has also earned its ‘stripes’ in babysitting; separate visits took them to Comforts of Home to help elderly residents dye Easter Eggs and scrapbook photos.
The girls have kayaked on the local Kinnickinnic River, climbed rocks and created crafts to sell for fundraising. Bennett says the girls also produced and hosted the annual ‘Spookamonga’ Halloween haunted house -- a big project.
Many of the young teens enjoy camping and other field trips. Most liked sleeping with the dolphins at the zoo and look forward to sleeping with the grizzly bears there soon.
Nearly all remember their visit to a rural River Falls stable, where they rode horses plus learned about proper horse care, grooming and tack handling.
All the Scouts said they like learning new things such as CPR and that they enjoy friendships they make through scouting -- a different social circle than school or other places.
Learn more about Girl Scouts at the website: www.girlscourtsrv.org