The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sunday Profile

December 4, 2011

‘Building girls’

Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, once said, “The work of today is the history of tomorrow and we are its makers.” Now celebrating its 100th year, girl scouting has a long history of “building girls of courage, confidence and character,” said Stacie Bolen, membership development coordinator for the Black Diamond Council.

That’s what the organization has always been about — building girls, she said.

“Besides all of the fun we have, ours is an organization that really helps girls,” explained volunteer services specialist Becky Pack. “We are non-competitive. So unlike other groups they are going to participate in, they are not going to compete against each other individually. Girl Scouts is an organization of total acceptance where girls can be themselves with no boys around. It builds their self-esteem and character.”

“The Girl Scout experience is a premier leadership program; “it teaches girls to be leaders of our country or leaders of their home. It gives them skills to lead in whatever capacity,” said Pack.

Girl scouting also helps develop leaders by participating in product sales, learning financial responsibility and having the confidence to go out and talk to people, she said.

“Girl Scout Cookies is the largest female business in the world, and it really is a cookie business,” said Pack. “Eighty percent of female business owners were girl scouts.”

Likewise, many women of power and determination were once or still are girl scouts, like Hillary Clinton, Katie Couric and Gayle Manchin. And 22 of NASA’s female astronauts are lifelong girl scouts, added Pack.

And while girl scouting builds girls, it also builds the community by focusing on service.

The Girls Scouts of the Black Diamond council do a number of drives every year. Bolen said the girls just completed a drive for DHHR Youth Services with the Women’s Resource Center, creating a number of grab bags for children in transit.

As a participant in the United Way’s Wonderland of Trees, the scouts were excited to learn their tree pulled in $400, a record for the group.

And, as a United Way agency, the funds the scouts receive go toward some of their drives and community projects, but are also used to help participants in need to attend events or go to camp, said Bolen.

Across the state, girl scout numbers are up and there are 500 participants in Raleigh County alone, she said. More than 200 girls walked in the Veterans Day Parade and there are around 40 very active troops in Raleigh and surrounding counties.

No doubt some of the enrollment is due to the 100th year, year-long celebration leading up to “Paint the Town Green,” the greatest Girl Scout bash in Black Diamond history, said Bolen.

Thousands of girls will gather in Charleston on May 4-6, 2012, for a street fair, concerts, parades and plenty of fun activities for girls, said Pack.

In preparation for the big bash, the troops competed against each other (not as individuals) in a cupcake challenge. Winners in each category will continue on to regionals for the chance to compete in Charleston in May.

Troops have also been ticking off a list of 100 Ways to Celebrate the 100th, a list that promotes community service, leadership and education.

And while joining a troop is the traditional way to experience girl scouting, families and girls can choose specific pathways.

“Girl Scouts is not just troop-driven any longer. You can join and be in our travel pathway and just do trips. There will be a group that only gets together for travel,” said Bolen.

Every two years the troops work toward a large trip. In 2013, the destination is Hawaii, she said.

The pathways girls can choose from are camp, events, program series, travel, troops and virtual, where girls participate in interactive program activities online.

If interested in starting or joining a troop, contact Stacie Bolen by phone 304-252-9836 or e-mail stacie.bolen@bdgsc.org.

For more information on the Girl Scouts of the Black Diamond council, visit www.bdgsc.org.

Girl Scout cookie sales will start Jan. 6.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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