07/29/04 — Girl Scouts looking for 1,000 new members

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Girl Scouts looking for 1,000 new members

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on July 29, 2004 1:58 PM

The Girl Scouts want 1,000 new members in Wayne County.

Wayne County has about 800 Girl Scouts, and the 1,000 new members mean a 25 percent increase, said Deborah Brady of the Girl Scout Council of Coastal Carolina.

The council, based in Goldsboro and serving girls and their advisers in 25 counties, has begun a recruitment campaign for girls to join and volunteers to work with them. It will provide information at the Wayne County elementary and middle schools during open house this week and is planning events for girls age 5 through 17 to see what Girl Scouting can offer them.

Girl Scouting isn't just cookies, camping and crafts any more, said Ms. Brady. It's changing to become more in line with what girls are doing.

"We don't want to change who Girl Scouts are. We want to be more in line with what girls are asking for," she said. "Sure in the '50s and '60s, they were sewing and camping, but girls now want to go whitewater rafting, kayaking. They want to do the high-ropes challenge."

The high-ropes challenge involves a climbing wall and rappelling down a high structure like a bridge.

Ms. Brady said there are lots of new options today in Girl Scouting, like the Studio 2B program for girls age 11 through 17.

The national organization has its own research institute that asked girls what they want. They said they want to work with "teen-savvy" adults between 18 and 29, because they felt these women would better "remember what it was like to be a teen-ager." They want to choose what to do, not be told what somebody else has chosen for them to do. They want "a place to be, a place to go where they feel they belong."

The Studio 2B girls in Wayne County work with an adviser to create activities. Although the council has offered Studio 2B to registered Girl Scouts, Ms. Brady said she hopes it will draw new girls and some of those who dropped out of Girl Scouting.

"Eleven is typically when we lose them in middle school to sports, band, whatever. You don't necessarily have to drop out because you love sports. Yes, we are camping and singing and selling cookies. But none of these things are required for membership in Girl Scouting."

Girls don't have to show up at every meeting, she said. They can participate in Girl Scouting once a month or even once a year.

"You can register and only go to the summer camp or only participate in the adventure trips," said Ms. Brady. "One group is leaving today to travel all over North Carolina. ... One of our Girl Scouts is going to Costa Rica for two weeks. A Wayne County troop just got back from a cruise they had been planning for two years. These girls are doing some incredible things."

There's no uniform required. While the girls used to earn sashes to wear on uniforms, today's girls earn charms for a charm bracelet.

"We must continue to change and move forward to meet the needs of the girls," said Ms. Brady. "We want to change the way it gets delivered to the girls, but we don't want to change the core values. They've been around for 92 years."

She said the core values of Girl Scouting are belief in God, respect for others and helping a girl develop her potential by building her confidence, capability and life skills. She said a girl who is confident and feels accepted and has a sense of belonging will probably not end up with a teen pregnancy or homeless or a victim of domestic violence.

"We're the fun, happy organization," she said. "We're the preventative measure to help a girl be strong enough to make good choices."

The council doesn't want money to ever be a reason girls don't belong. There is always financial aid, said Ms. Brady. The council has 100 girls active in its outreach program, which takes Girl Scouting to community housing, Wayne Uplift and migrant camps. Several staff members are bi-lingual.

"We're eliminating the barrier of transportation," said Ms. Brady. "Parents can't get kids to meetings as well as they did years ago when all the moms were home."

Anyone can volunteer, a man or a woman. Some of the council's program consultants talk to girls once a year and tell them about their profession. "Hurricanes keep destroying our piers at camp. You could rebuild a pier, and you don't have to sing a song or sell a cookie."

To volunteer or register, call the council office at 734-6231 or e-mail .