Trying new ways to be a Girl Scout
By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on January 31, 2007 1:48 PM
Terri Bryant never dreamed she could be a Girl Scout until a few weeks ago when she joined Troop 521 at the Boys & Girls Club on Royall Avenue.
"I wanted to wear the green and the hat," the 15-year-old said.
But for fellow Scout Zshatorria Chambers, also 15, the uniform would have been a deal-breaker.
Both teens got what they wanted.
The uniform is not required for members of Troop 521, one the outreach troops that bring the chance to be Girl Scouts to teens who would not otherwise be able to join.
They do all the same sorts of activities typically associated with Scouting, but add some special events of their own, too.
Some of the girls in Troop 521 joined Scouts from other troops at the Girl Scout Council of Coastal Carolina office in Goldsboro recently for an all-night party. The event was called the America's Next Top Model Sleep-Over and included activities like facials, manicures and pedicures.
The 10 girls in Troop 521 attend Goldsboro High and Dillard Middle schools.
Some participated in Girl Scouting when they were younger but could not continue after they changed schools, said Deborah Brady, the council's marketing and communications manager.
"They tell me they're happy to have another chance now to be part of Girl Scouting," she said.
She said the staff members at Coastal Carolina have virtually eliminated the barriers for many like the girls in Troop 521 and Troop 359, which is headquartered at the Boys & Girls Club in Mount Olive. They take Girl Scouting to other places, too, like Head Start and community housing.
The council's outreach troops serve almost 300 girls in 24 troops in Wayne and Greene counties, including one at the Goldsboro Family Y and another on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
And there are still another 600 or so girls in the two counties who belong to traditional troops.
The outreach troops do everything the other Girl Scouts do, she said. They sell cookies and work on "interest patches." The patches, which are available for girls ages 11 to 17, include new topics like making good choices and money management.
The council even goes online with virtual Troop 105 for girls who can't get to meetings but who have computers.
Troop 105, which includes girls ages 14 through 17, is led by program specialist Renee Pelletier. When girls reach their teens they often become too busy to attend weekly troop meetings, Ms. Pelletier said. By going online, they can enter a safe chatroom to stay in touch with what activities and trips are available and to work on their gold and silver awards.
Ms. Pelletier said the girls in online Troop 105 arrange to go on-line together at a certain time on a certain day each month in an instant-message chat room on Yahoo. The girls can go to the group page and download the program they want to work on and have group discussions about how they are each doing with their projects.
"They can be anywhere, Goldsboro, Wilmington. We only started in October, and we have two from Wilmington, one from Goldsboro and another one interested in joining from Jacksonville," she said. "We're hoping to cover all of our counties."
The girls in Troop 105 aren't limited to going online just once each month. They can post messages anytime throughout the month.
Ms. Pelletier said she got the idea for the online troop from the national Girl Scout organization, which has had a virtual troop for a year now.
"We do everything a normal troop does," Ms. Pelletier said. "It's a great way to be involved without having to drive somewhere."
The outreach troops and the virtual group are just a couple ways the program is trying to get more girls interested in Scouting, local officials said.
And for the girls in Troop 521, who also volunteer as junior staff and are members of the Keystone Club, which sells candy and snacks during ballgames, Scouting adds another fun activity to their lists.
The girls said that there is little difference between their work with the Keystone Club and Girl Scouting. Both are about fellowship and serving their communities, they said.
But there is one big plus, the girls added.
"Now we sell cookies, too," they said.
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