April 28, 2010

Girl Scouts honor commitment to community

Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY – It's Friday night at First Parish Church, and the Brownies are plentiful. No, it's not another church supper.
It's a Brownie Badge Blast involving about 50 pint-sized Girl Scouts-in-training who have been assembled and organized for this“girls night in”sleepover by two ambitious Cadettes.
Julia Toohey and Isabel Silveira have invested nearly two years of their young lives in this moment, which will culminate with a Silver Award – the highest honor a Girl Scout Cadette can achieve.
Part of the process included putting down on paper what they wanted their legacy to their community to be – the purpose of a Silver Award.
“We really wanted to give back to the Girl Scouts,” said Julia, a seventh-grader at Gilbert Hood Middle School. “It's meant so much to us.”
“Yeah, we've both been with Girl Scouts since Daisies,” said Isabel, a seventh grader at St. Thomas Aquinas.
What they've learned about Scouting is that it engages you in your community, teaches about leadership and, occasionally provides an opportunity to make a sign that says “Office Staff Only” and then put it on a door and go behind that door to make executive decisions.
We're talking big decisions, like under what circumstances to you get to blow your Official Brownie Blast whistles. (The answer is anytime you want, because you're in charge.)
Whistles and executive privilege aside, Scouting helps you gain people skills, said Isabel, and it motivates you to explore your world.
“It just helps you be a better person,” said Julia, opening the door to exit the executive office where two Boy Scouts are waiting for instructions on when to serve the pizza.
“We're running the kitchen tonight,” said James Toohey who, when questioned admits his indentured servitude to a church full of Girl Scouts has little to do with his eagerness to lend a hand.
“Our sister's running the sleepover,” said James.
“And our mother's one of the Troop leaders,” said his brother, Joseph.
Girls started arriving for the sleepover already in their pajamas, wearing their Brownie vests over top of various combinations of silky pink and/or purple sparkly animal adorned sleepwear, dropping their gear and a menagerie of stuffed animals in a hallway before joining together in the room off the kitchen, for opening ceremonies.
Cadettes Aleigh Mouser and DeLeah Barker served as color guard, bringing in the American and Girl Scout flags and the girls joined together in the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by some giggles and squirms, as Julia and Isabel explained the evening activities. Brownies would earn a “Try It” badge for rotating around four different activity stations and trying something new – origami, making your own jigsaw puzzles, food pantry, and two crafts – and two mathematical puzzles – tanagrams and mobius strips.
In a brilliant management decision, James and Joseph would be serving pizza in shifts at one of the tables in the rotation, to keep the chaos to a minimum.
“Ta-daaaa,” said Amanda Foley, 8, who had just completed her “tanagram” in the shape of a robot, as Allie Izzett, 8, completed her creation, which looked something like a bridge.
At the mobius table, Ashley Cierri and Angela Colindres were imagining their circular looping paper shapes were conveyor belts.
“Right now we're just pinching them,” said Ashley.
“Yeah, pinching them and then twirling them,” Angela said, rotating her bright yellow mobius conveyor belt between her two index fingers.
The evening was not all arts and crafts and crowd control. Julia and Isabel asked each Brownie to bring some canned goods to be donated to the Sonshine Soup Kitchen. For every can, a Brownie earned a raffle ticket for a chance at a fun prize.
But the canned goods would also serve as a central facet of the program at one of the activity tables – a volunteer from the soup kitchen came in to talk to the second and third grade girls about what a food pantry is and why they need so many donations.
“A lot of times kids are asked to bring cans to school for the food pantry, but we realized a lot of times, especially the younger kids, don't really know what that means,” said Julia.
One more thing Isabel and Julia learned about planning a major event that involves feeding hungry kids: Donations are awesome.
“Dunkin Donuts donated six dozen fresh donuts. I was totally expecting day old donuts,” said Julia.
“I know. Can you believe they actually just gave us six boxes of fresh donuts? That was so great of them,” said Isabel. “This really is going to be a blast.”

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