Twenty local Girl Scouts attended a meeting at Rotary Park on October 6th. Girls of different ages enjoyed getting to know each other, playing volleyball and playing “icebreaker” bingo. The ages ranged from kindergarten to eighth grade.
“One thing we saw was how much these little girls loved spending time with the big girls. This is what we want to do more often, ”said Melodie McCandless, who was the service unit manager for the Girl Scout organization in the Moab area for seven years.
There are three Girl Scout troops in Moab: the largest, with 17 members, includes children from kindergarten to grade three. Six girls are in the third to sixth year troop, and six are in the eighth year troop, known as “Cadettes”. More children have shown interest, but McCandless said the organization needs more supervisors to accommodate more children.
“The biggest challenge right now is the adult volunteers,” said McCandless. “A lot of girls are interested but we have nowhere to put them.
Growth through Girl Scouts
Through Girl Scouts, local Moab girls learned a variety of skills and found ways to contribute to their community. Before the coronavirus pandemic tightened security restrictions, troops were on their way to Canyonlands Care Center, making crafts and baked goods with and for residents.
“The residents of the care center love being around children, it is absolutely therapeutic for them,” said Jillian Fryer, director of nursing at Canyonlands Care Center.
McCandless recalled another Girl Scout project from a few years ago. Her troop learned about stereotypes and they heard presentations from members of the local community like Dr. Kathy Williams, who practices medicine at the Moab Regional Hospital, about overcoming barriers and stereotypes in their careers. The girls decided to create a play illustrating how harmful stereotypes can be and how to overcome them; they played it for the younger Girl Scout troops.
There are also Girl Scout activities available online on the organization’s Utah webpage, gsutah.org. The coronavirus pandemic prompted the organization to expand remote participation options. Even children who are not Girl Scouts can participate. For about $ 10 plus shipping, families can order a “Badge in a Box” and receive a set of activities and instructions for girls to complete at home. There are also online clubs, courses and programs, including an astronomy club, leadership workshops and a Halloween-themed “Spooky Science” program. Participation prices vary, from free to around $ 30. Kids can also take virtual tours of places like the Aquarium and the Tracy Aviary in Salt Lake City.
However, McCandless said she observed that “the girls in Moab really want to be active.” They want to be outside to learn about nature or learn skills like cooking or sewing in person. COVID-19 has made this difficult; Girl Scouts are still required to wear masks when meeting indoors.
In a practical and active spirit, the leader of the youngest Moab Girl Scout Troop plans a camping trip for her group. The Girl Scout organization’s insurance policy covers members on Girl Scout trips. McCandless said that while the girls do not wish to attend the regular Girl Scout meetings, it is worth registering with the organization so that they can participate in activities such as camping trips and be covered by insurance. of the group.
There are also opportunities to travel through the Girl Scout organization. Girls from anywhere in the state can participate in overnight camps, two-day trips to weeklong camps, and stay in tents, cabins or lodges and participate in outdoor activities. like hiking and canoeing.
McCandless’s daughter, who is part of the Cadette group, has saved $ 4,000 to participate in a Girl Scout trip to the Galapagos Islands in the summer of 2022. She will join other Girl Scouts and Chaperones on a ten-day trip . McCandless decided not to go, to give his daughter the opportunity to achieve independence.
“I’m really excited that they’re leaving,” McCandless said. “She can make relationships and friends with other girls across the state, and maybe she’ll go to college with or play volleyball with some of these girls.”
To be involved
It costs $ 25 to be a leader, volunteer, or Girl Scout, and girls can register anytime. The fees cover administrative costs. Currently, McCandless said, the Girl Scout organization is waiving registration fees for girls, in light of the widespread hardship caused by COVID-19. For children, if the cost is prohibitive, troops can cover the registration fee from their “cookie funds,” the money they earn from selling the famous Girl Scout cookies each year. For a new Scout, there may be other costs for a belt and merit badges, the embroidered patches that represent completed activities; these can also be covered by troop or organization funds if necessary. Once a troop has started, it can usually sustain itself thanks to the funds raised through the sale of cookies.
The most difficult limitation right now, McCandless said, is the ratio of children to adult supervisors. With the youngest girls in such a large group and in such a large age range, for example, it is difficult to facilitate activities such as giving a sewing class. Grade 3 students need a different level of activity and focus than kindergarten children. The leader of this troop has a rotating group of volunteers who help out, but no full-time assistant, a role that would bring stability to the larger troop. Men can volunteer as well as women; McCandless said some girls’ fathers help out throughout the Scout year.
McCandless had the pleasure of meeting a woman at the October 6 event who has been involved with Girl Scouts for 40 years and is interested in volunteering.
“We really need more volunteers,” McCandless said. “I think there would be a lot more girls interested in Girl Scouts.”
To volunteer, adults must pass a background check and take training on the Utah Girls Scouts website.
“They give you a lot of resources; they also give you a lot of leeway to do whatever you want to do, ”McCandless said. “Girl Scouts are kind of what you want to do with them. “
She explained that the Girl Scout organization is supposed to be “run by girls”. For younger girls, this may mean giving a troop two options to choose from for an activity, trip, or decision; for older girls, they can choose their own direction and activities. For example, McCandless said last year that his troop wanted to help the local Humane Society and the animal rescue nonprofit Underdog. They generated the idea themselves and came up with a plan. McCandless said she was just there to facilitate.
“You help the girls make their plan, if they need to fundraise, you help them figure out how to fundraise and figure out the decision-making steps to get to where we want to be. “
Girl Scout volunteers can increase their engagement by scheduling troop meetings as often as once a week or as little as once a month. Older Girl Scouts, noted McCandless, are more willing to engage with the organization independently, as well as other activities like clubs and sports, and are happy to meet less frequently. She said she held an hour-long meeting a week for her troop of eighth graders. In addition to the preparation involved, she said it adds up to about 10 hours per month of troop time. Girl Scout activities are generally suspended during the summer.
Community members can also volunteer to share a skill or experience with a Girl Scout troop on an as-needed basis. For example, a local emergency medical services team showed a troop working on a first aid badge in an ambulance. Or, volunteers can serve in administrative or recruiting capacities, rather than working directly with children. Volunteering with Girl Scouts can be a great resume generator, McCandless noted, especially for high school students preparing for college applications.