Brownies and badges and service, oh my!

Gretchen CrawleyOur Town Youth, West Knoxville

The past year has brought a lot of firsts for a West Knoxville troop of Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians that is made up of nine Brownies who are third graders at A.L. Lotts and Northshore elementary schools.

Formed in February 2022, Girl Scout troop co-leader Jess Antonio signed on to participate when she learned of the great need for troop leaders and with the assurance that Pam Heberlein would co-lead the group. “I was a troop helper in England and signed my girls up for Brownies when we moved to Tennessee,” Antonio said. “I jumped in with both feet!”

Heberlein added, “I had experience as a leader in another youth organization and wanted the girls to experience Girl Scouts, so Jess and I got together to provide it.”

Just wrapping up their first Girl Scout Cookie season, the leaders credit others who made it a success. “We have such a special group,” Antonio said. “The parents are great and our cookie mom, Kim Brown, led us through this first season with patience and pizazz.”

Their goal is to instill leadership skills, confidence, willingness to try new things and sisterhood through this experience, and they’re doing it with success. “Our girls are so sweet to each other, have formed a tight bond and are welcoming to new girls who join,” Antonio said. “This small group certainly dreams big.”

West Knoxville Girl Scout troop members visit the American Museum of Science and Energy in pursuit of the Brownie Space Science Adventurer Badge.

The troop participated in a food drive and volunteered at a local food pantry where they learned about community involvement and now plan to return at the urging of the girls. The troop members toured the American Museum of Science and Energy for their Brownie Space Science Adventurer Badge and will soon head to Ijams Nature Center in pursuit of Brownie Hiker Badges, then will focus on Brownie Dancer Badges.

The girls all look forward to their Bridging Ceremony in June when they will advance to the Junior level. “We really want to start leaning into more outdoor activities, as well as thinking about camping at the Junior level – we look forward to our future adventures together,” Antonio said.

Gretchen Crawley is chief communications officer for Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians. 


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