The Girl Scout Way

Last Sunday was Katy’s Girl Scout troop’s end of year ceremony and celebration.  It’s been an interesting year in Girl Scouts. Katy’s whole Girl Scout adventure has been interesting. This is her fifth troop but this is a really unique group. It’s a multi-level group with Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors (grades 6-12) and it functions in two ways. It’s a troop with girls registered with that troop but it’s also a special interest group made up of girls registered with other troops as well. When the group started about six years ago it was designed to be more of a sorority feel and to focus on programming for older girls. There are lots of things for Daisies, Brownies and Juniors (kindergarten through fifth grade) but not quite as much as they get older. Retaining girls at that age is very difficult. They get into middle school and there are many more school activities to choose from, sports begin to get much more time intensive for girls involved in that and many girls just feel like they’ve done Girl Scouts for five or six years and they’d like to try something else. And if they make it through middle school in Girl Scouts, high school provides many more challenges. So this group was formed to help with those issues. As it’s a sorority type of group it has a Greek name, Gamma Gamma Sigma, which does double-duty as Georgia Girl Scouts (GGS). Katy started attending GGS last January but wasn’t able to be quite as involved as she’d like. This year we moved her registration to Gamma Gamma Sigma so it’s her home troop and she hit the ground running. This troop is part of the Lanier Service Unit, which is Gwinnett County. All of the Gwinnett County service units band together to put on special events so that’s nice, too.

Investing new members January 2018.

All of the girls who were there. I think there’s about 60 girls in the group but not everyone can make everything.

This year was very busy. There is always something going on and Katy did everything she could.

She joined Girl Scouts back in first grade specifically to go camping and managed to miss both the camp out and the Outdoor Expo that Gwinnett County Girl Scout Outdoor Expo. The group’s booth was on how to pack a backpack for hiking, something Katy knows about. But onto the things they did do.

Early in the year they started out with a service project benefiting the Pajama Project. They collected new pajamas and books for teens in foster care. They ended up with 100 pairs of pajamas and 160 books. Someone in the group had someone who works for Scholastic and was able to get some books donated from them. It was a nice project.

Sorting out pajamas

For Christmas they had a really nice party at Main Event with food, games, a gift exchange and lots of bowling.

Playing a game

Taking a break from bowling

In January some of the older girls attended a car care clinic put on by AAA. Katy said it was really interesting and she learned a lot. They got to watch an oil change.

All the girls who attended the car clinic.

One really neat thing they did this year was piloting a new set of badges. About the time Katy started Girl Scouts the folks at national thought it would be a good idea to completely revamp the program, eliminating skills badges and focusing on something called Journeys that even girls who earn them every year have really yet to be able to fully explain. That didn’t go over well so they created a few badges but not nearly enough so they are constantly adding new badges. As they are developed the pick councils to select troop to pilot the badges. This troop was picked to test drive the three new Cyber Security badges for the Ambassador level. The girls were given the badge requirement as there was some homework to do in advance then met three times, I believe, to do work in person as well. Two of the troop parents arranged for a woman named Barbara Fox to teach the badges. Ms. Fox is a research scientist at Georgia Tech University. She does research into malware, threats and risk management and has developed courses to teach about cybersecurity. She was really good and Katy said the sessions were really interesting. I think the badges are supposed to roll out to everyone in the fall.

Hard at work on their badge.

The Ambassadors with Ms. Fox

While many one-day and short-term activities were going on the girls were also busy planning a council-wide event. Every year for World Thinking Day they host an event called The Amazing Race at Agnes Scott College (Home of the Scotties) not far from us. World Thinking Day is a Girl Scout “holiday” that is designed to learn about countries that are part of WAGGS — World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides. Katy had never done this activity so this was her first time to be involved at all.

The girls divided into teams and did a table for each of the five WAGGS World Centers. Katy’s group did Sangam, in Pune, India. It took weeks to plan this and she made many trips to Agnes Scott.

A planning session in one of the buildings.

The day of the event they set up their tables on a lawn and being March spent a good bit of time fighting the wind.

The event was open to Juniors, Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. They had just over 60 girls signed up. The girls were in teams of six, I believe. Each station had a game or activity to complete to earn the 2019 World Thinking Day patch. At Sangam they had three activities to pick from: make something from recycled items (Katy cleaned all the empty water bottles out of my car for this), take a photo showing how you can protect the environment or have a discussion. I have no idea what the other stations did. All the feedback afterward was that everyone really enjoyed the activity. They were supposed to get a sack lunch but instead ended up being invited to eat in the school cafeteria, which was an adventure for Katy.

And you probably know about the bake off. This was a Gwinnett County activity that had its 30th anniversary this year. It’s open to all levels. There are three recipes for each level and you compete at the troop, service unit and county level. Only one other Gamma girl participated and she made a different recipe than Katy so we skipped the troop bake-off and just went straight to service unit. Kennedy won second place for her Chocolate Cookie Cheesecake and Katy won first place for her Toasted Butter Pecan Cake.

Her service unit cake. She didn’t have time for a practice cake so this was her first time to make it.

The service unit bake-off was held during the father-daughter dance and Katy didn’t want to do that — “Ambassadors don’t go to the Father-Daughter Dance” — then at cake drop-off she found out that later in the evening there is an event just for older girls. She would have gone to that if she’d known. So we found out the bake-off results a couple of days later. Then it was off to county. The county bake-off was the same day as Guys and Dolls (two performances) and I was under strict orders to wait on results and “bring me food”. It was worth the wait. She got second place (I think she lost points for looks when the side smudged during the car ride). After the results were announced they opened the hall with all the entries. Each item was marked as to whether it was being picked up or not and they said take whatever you want, anything not picked up will be thrown out. So I brought Katy and Heath and few things to try.

Icing her cake the morning of the bake-off before going to school for the play. She baked it late the night before.

Besides all the troop activities we squeezed in some council events as well. Of course she sold cookies, although not anywhere near as many as usual. In the fall we went to Girl Scout Night at the Georgia Aquarium. The highlight of the night was seeing the Ocean Voyager tank from the top. Usually you have to do a behind-the-scenes tour for that. There was no schedule or list of activities for the event and several people missed this. We stumbled on it by accident.

That whale shark is *right there*.

We also went to the STEM Expo, which we did every year. They had some problems this year and ended up having to reschedule it. The whole thing was a big disappointment. It was at the Delta Flight Museum and we did get to see that but not all of it was even open. Katy was just mad by the time we left.

So that brings us to the end of the year. The ceremony was held at a church with several buildings and we drove around and asked two people (the second church service was just letting out) and finally found it.

The troop is big on ceremony and I’m glad. They always have a color guard and flags at ceremonies and they say the Promise and Law at every meeting.

The color guard

We had a guest speaker, Dr. Arlene P. Beckles She’s the president and CEO of InfoSense, LLC. She’s a computer geek.

She mentioned her first computer was a Commodore 64 and two of us adults shot our hands into the air to say that we, too, had Commodore 64s. Anyway, she is from Barbados and moved to Georgia in 2003. She said she speaks three kinds of English — the Queen’s English, American English and southern English. She really encouraged the girls to do everything they could to learn as much as they can. She asked if anyone didn’t have a cell phone and when no one raised their hand she said “good, I don’t have to tell  you parents to buy you one”. I  have never heard that out of an adult. She talked about how when she was their age she went to the library every Friday but she was only allowed to check out five books, which just lasted the weekend. Now, she says, they have it all in their phones. She told the girls to use their phones to learn things, not just for socializing. She said she always carries a bag (pictured) with a book to read, a notebook and pen and some handiwork (crocheting that day). She also has a favorite thing to say: One can make a difference – if you take the time to listen to someone you can learn so much and that one person can make a difference that particular time in your life.

She was very interesting and inspirational.

There was some bridging. There are girls in the group bridging from Cadettes to Seniors but none of them were there. Girls bridged from Seniors to Ambassadors and four from Ambassadors to adults. The four Ambassadors graduating from high school were presented with Girl Scout stoles and cords to wear at graduation if they wish. Each girl spoke a little about what Girl Scouts has meant to them over the years. All four are successful young women who will really go places.

Katy’s part in the ceremony was to present cookies and a certificate to the two representatives from AAA who arranged and led the car care clinic.

Following the ceremony we had a delicious dinner. Katy and Kennedy brought their bake-off entries.

The girls who attended and two of their leaders. Whoever organized the photo tried to put the younger girls in front and the older girls in back but that didn’t work, you couldn’t see Katy and some of those younger girls are tall!

And I managed to get Katy to stand still for a photo with the two of us.


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