By Christina Whiting
Kachemak Bay Girl Scouts are mentors in the making. They camp in the winter, clean beaches in the fall, decorate gift tags for Share the Spirit’s Giving Trees, decorate the Elks Club for spaghetti dinner fundraisers and make cookies for the Pratt’s Stocking Stuffer party.
“Girl Scouts is about fun and adventure, but it’s also about learning and respect,” said troop leader Tina Ball. “It is important for young girls to have good role models, and a great way to model respect is to take the girls into the community to volunteer. This gives them an outlet to be creative, thankful and artistic and lets them know they can make a difference in their community and in the world.”
Ball co-leads a local troop with Poppy Benson.
“These girls know how to start a fire, fish on the ice, camp in sideways rain, change flat bike tires and keep warm in snow caves,” Ball said.
Leaders help fulfill the scouts’ mission to build girls of courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place. In turn, Scouts builds confident leaders.
“The current Homer High School student body president and secretary are both Girl Scouts,” leader Brenda Dolma said. “Two others are mentors with Homer Youth Resource and Enrichment Coop.”
Tina Seaton was a troop leader in the 1990s and became Service Unit Manager in 1996.
“I was in Girl Scouts as a girl, and it played such an important role in my life,” Seaton said. “Scouts helped me develop self esteem, a willingness to try new things, take risks and a love of nature.”
Girl Scouts earn money via cookie sales in January that can be used for troop activities, supplies, trips or badges. They also get “cookie credits” to use for day camp, residential camp and some trips. They may also do other fundraising, such as car washes, bake sales and yard sales.
Families pay $20 for national membership and scholarships are available to any girl who needs financial aid.
Poppy Benson was a Boy Scout leader for 13 years, and has been a Girl Scout co-leader for three years.
“I love getting kids outdoors and feeling needed,” Benson said. “I also think girls really need more women mentors with outdoors skills.”
A highlight for Benson was taking her girls on a bear-viewing trip to Lake Clark National Park.
Beth Trowbridge started as a leader, has served many years as the service unit cookie manager, developed the summer Girl Scout Naturalist program held at Wynn Nature Center and now serves part-time as the Homer Service Unit Manager.
“Scouts is a great way to empower girls to gain self-confidence, engage in learning and exploring opportunities with other girls and become strong, independent women with leadership qualities,” Trowbridge said. “Being involved with other girls, having women as role models and having the focus of the program be ‘girl-led’ is unique and important.”
Every other year, nearly 800 Girl Scouts from around Alaska participate in a four-day statewide Girl Scout encampment at the Palmer Fairgrounds.
There are 11 Girl Scout troops in Homer and Anchor Point, comprising 90 girls ranging in age from kindergarten to high school seniors. Some 28 adults volunteer their time as troop leaders, unit service managers and workshop presenters.
Girl Scouts is an all-volunteer organization and is always in need of men and women who are eager to teach, share and lead. Leaders participate in monthly service unit meetings to plan activities. And, as the girls gain maturity, leaders help them take on more responsibility in troop meetings and in putting on events for the service unit.
“Troop leaders have the satisfaction of a long-term relationship with their girls, while having fun adventures and knowing they’re making a difference in girls’ lives,” Benson said.
Inspired by Anchorage’s Women of Science events in the early 1990s, Homer troop leaders have been creating Women of Science, Women of Art and Women of the Outdoors events since 1999. On Jan. 25, Kachemak Bay’s Girl Scouts will host a Women of Art event at Homer High School. Scouts of all ages will participate in three, one-hour, hands-on workshops.
Scout leaders are looking for artists to spend an hour sharing their love of art with the scouts during Women of Art. To volunteer, or for more information on Homer and Anchor Point Girl Scouts, contact Tina Seaton at email@example.com or 399-1353. Women of Art volunteers must contact Seaton by Jan. 16.
“Each one of our girls is a success story,” Ball said. “They look out for one another. It is like a big family.”
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