Girl Scouts is a family tradition for Elissa Fleming. It started with her mother, who served as a Girl Scout troop administrator. And now Fleming leads a Farragut-based Girl Scout troop that includes her daughter, Ella.
Reflecting on her own journey from a Brownie to achieving the prestigious Gold Award in high school, Fleming said, “Some of my most memorable childhood experiences were Girl Scout adventures. I want the girls to share in special moments, outdoor adventures and community service like I did.”
The troop is comprised of 11 second-grade Brownies from Farragut Primary School and Concord Christian School.
From Veterans Day through the holiday season, the troop completed multiple service projects, bringing smiles, a bit of joy and even a song or two to make the days brighter.
“Our troop has been busy with community projects,” said Fleming. “The girls have made cards for nursing homes that were distributed to veterans on Veterans Day and to all residents for Christmas as well as cards for the local firefighters. They decided to use the money they earned from cookie sales to collect toys for the children who will be staying at East Tennessee Childrens’ Hospital during the holidays. We plan on joining other troops to go caroling in local nursing homes as well.”
The troop also adopted a family for Christmas and donated items for their wish list. A big project the girls completed was designing and decorating a Christmas tree that was displayed at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital Fantasy of Trees and sold to benefit the hospital.
“The girls decided on a ‘Sweet Candy Christmas’ theme and made the ornaments, including lollipops and candies out of fabric and ribbon; pipe cleaner candy canes; and snowmen,” Fleming said. “They absolutely enjoyed designing the tree and were so excited to see it displayed!”
In addition to service, the girls participate in other fun and educational opportunities. After setting a lofty goal to sell 1,200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, the troop surpassed it by 400, earning a goal the girls had set for themselves: a Build-A-Bear party. In another outing, the girls learned how to create their own emojis at the Apple Store, with Fleming adding, “They had a blast. We have some fantastic artists in our troop.”
Next year, the troop plans to venture into the great outdoors to learn survival skills and first-aid as well as continue the pursuit of learning life skills, entrepreneurship during cookie season and science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.
Fleming appreciates most the special bond that the girls have developed since kindergarten and has great hopes for their future.
“They support one another, cheer each other on, brighten each other’s day and help one another when needed most,” she said. “They are so smart, funny, loving and caring. Life is certainly busy, but their bond keeps me engaged as a leader. It’s an honor to help share life skills to help them succeed and become strong, independent women. I want them to exude self-confidence, self-love and a strong sisterhood that helps empower other women and impact the community.”
You can make an impact as well. Learn about volunteering with Girl Scouts at girlscoutcsa.org/volunteer. If you know a girl who would thrive through the Girl Scout experience, find a nearby troop at girlscoutcsa.org, by texting “JOIN” to 59618 or sending an email to email@example.com. You may register or become a volunteer anytime during the calendar year!
Gretchen Crawley is chief communications officer for Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians.