HJ/EDMarch 13, 2006

Girl Scouts: inspiring girls with the highest ideals

By Jenni Sebora
Correspondent

Girl Scouts is the world’s preeminent organization dedicated solely to girls – all girls, including girls in the Howard Lake, Waverly, Montrose, Lester Prairie, Winsted, Watertown, Mayer and New Germany communities.

In partnership with committed adults, Girl Scouts learn the importance of personal responsibility, the value of goal-setting, the spirit of teamwork, and the thrill of accomplishment.

Girl Scout activities are planned around girls’ interests, and individual girls and troops may do projects, participate in service unit events, and complete badge work.

Individual scout troops within each service unit meet regularly at the discretion of the troop leader, Winsted Girl Scout Service Manager Evonne Kremer noted.

Making a difference

In Girl Scouts, girls discover fun and friendship, as well as the power of girls together, making a difference in the community.

For those reasons, area troop leaders and service unit managers are, and stay, involved in Girl Scouts.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose Girl Scout Service Unit Leader Lori Wilhelm, who has been involved in Girl Scouts for 13 years, was a Girl Scout herself and continues to be involved in the organization because of what Girl Scouts teaches girls, even though she has no daughter involved.

“I love to see their faces when they accomplish something for the first time – when they can do something on their own. Girl Scouts teaches girls to become confident, caring, and self-sufficient,” Wilhelm said.

Kremer, who has been involved with Winsted Girl Scouts for 26 years, agreed that Girl Scouts teaches girls very worthwhile values.

“I like what Girl Scouts stands for – its motto,” Kremer said.

Lester Prairie Girl Scout troop leader Jackie Ziermann noted that making friends and helping people are important aspects of being in Girl Scouts.

Watertown-Mayer Girl Scout resource coordinator Ruth Bury, who has had three daughters in Girl Scouts, agreed, noting that being there in the community and helping out are important Girl Scout values and reasons why she continues to be involved in Girl Scouts.

Area Girl Scout troops meet the challenge of helping communities and people by engaging in numerous activities and projects.

Lester Prairie Girl Scouts, which has a total of about 35 girls, recently helped out at the community’s Food for Hunger volunteer project. Last fall, the girls planted flowers to beautify the city’s entrance signs, and plan to do it again this spring.

The Watertown-Mayer Service Unit also helps with community activities and events, such as the recent Super Bowl Sunday pancake breakfast hosted by the local Lions club.

The Winsted Girl Scouts have helped with clean up for the Winsted Fire Department’s annual pancake breakfast for years, along with visiting residents of St. Mary’s Care Center.

Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose Girl Scouts engage in various community service activities such as doing service projects for the Howard Lake Good Samaritan Center.

Other large group service unit activities include community celebrations, parades, and an end-of-the year court of awards ceremony.

Lester Prairie Girl Scouts participate in the annual Longhorn Days celebration; Scouts in Winsted participate in the Winsted Winter festival; Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted troops are active in Good Neighbor Days; and Watertown-Mayer Girl Scouts participate in the Rails to Trails event in July.

Father-daughter activities are also popular among the service units. In fact, during the Girl Scout cookie sales event, fathers (or another male role model) are encouraged to help their Girl Scout with the cookie sales.

The Watertown-Mayer Girl Scouts make time for a fun father-daughter bowling event.

Honoring the past

Special days are honored among the Girl Scout troops. Juliette Low’s birthday, Founder’s Day, is Oct. 31. Low started the Girl Scout movement in the US in 1912 in Savannah, Ga.

Thinking Day, Feb. 22, is the day Girl Scouts and girl guides from around the world “think about” each other through special local events.

This past Thinking Day, the Lester Prairie Girl Scouts participated in cultural activities with the local foreign exchange students at Lester Prairie High School. Winsted troop leaders organized an opportunity for their girls to go back in time, as they visited the McLeod County Historical Museum on Thinking Day.

The birthday of Girl Scouts in America is March 12, and that week is Girl Scout week. Girl Scouts take this opportunity to let others know about girl scouting, and focus on family events.

The Winsted Girl Scout Service Unit, among the other units, participates in special activities and projects during this honored week. Individual religious observations are encouraged during this week, as well.

Who can join?

Membership in Girl Scouts is open to every girl, ages 5 to 17 and/or grades kindergarten through 12. The annual membership fee is $10. Financial assistance is available.

Girl Scouts are divided into Daisy Girl Scouts (ages five to six), Brownie Girl Scouts (ages six to eight), Junior Girl Scouts (ages 8-11), and Studio 2B for girls ages 11-17.

All the area service units this year have active Daisy troops and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose service unit, which has about 59 registered members, has two senior high members.

As the girls move through the ranks, they can earn patches and pins. Each level has its own patch shape and activities designed to show progression in skills.

“There are certain requirements at each level of award. Girls have to earn badges toward each goal, complete so much community service, and plan and carry out a community service project,” Wilhelm explained of the Girl Scout Bronze Award, Silver Award and Gold Award, which is the highest achievement that a Girl Scout can earn in Girl Scouting.

Contributing to the larger picture

A meeting’s agenda may include a start-up activity, such as a flag ceremony and the recitation of the Girl Scout Promise; business items may be taken care of, and activities, such as field trips, crafts, badge work, and speakers are a major part of each meeting, followed by a closing.

Winsted and Lester Prairie Girl Scout Service Units belong to Girl Scouts Peacepipe Council, based in Redwood Falls, and the Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose and the Watertown-Mayer Girl Scout Service Units belong to the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis.

Each council provides numerous program activities that the area Girl Scouts can participate in as well, such as camping events and indoor and outdoor activities.

The Peacepipe Council offers various camping and outdoor activities at Lake Shetak State Park and at its own Camp Sanderson, which is a beautiful 33-acre, year round camp facility on the shores of Nest Lake, two miles north of Spicer.

The camp features a fully equipped program center, waterfront area, and sand volleyball court. The girls can camp, canoe, paddle boat, swim, take nature hikes, do crafts, go on scavenger hunts, and enjoy evening campfires in the amphitheater. Winter activities include cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

The Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis has three different camp sites, Camp Elk River, Camp Greenwood, and Camp Lockeslea, which offer similar activities.

In fact, the Watertown-Mayer Girl Scouts, which number about 55 to 60 girls, will be traveling to Camp Greenwood in April for a weekend of fun and camaraderie.

The Howard Lake-Waverly-Montrose Girl Scouts also participate in camping events at the various camp sites, including winter camping where the girls snow shoe, go sledding, and complete community service projects, such as building bird feeders.

Summer camping experiences are available at the camp sites, as well as at local parks. Lester Prairie Girl Scouts travel to Baylor Park for day camp in the summer, and Winsted troops travel to Camp Sanderson.

Wilhelm noted that camping offers girls many opportunities and benefits, such as teamwork, fun, and camaraderie. It also allows them to participate in activities they may not normally get to do.

“It (camping) helps the girls to be self-sufficient and makes them a stronger person,” Wilhelm said.

Besides camping, selling cookies is a major part of being a Girl Scout. This fundraiser is for all Girl Scout service units.

In 2004, Girl Scouts in the Girl Scout Council of Greater Minneapolis sold nearly two million boxes of cookies (1,935,096 to be exact).


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