Girl Scouts: Friends, confidence, leadership

Gretchen CrawleyOur Town Youth, West Knoxville

Karianne LeClair’s West Knoxville Girl Scouts troop started two years ago and already has completed a successful cookie-selling season, organized drives for community causes and started covering their vests with badges.

The 15-girl troop consists of Daisies (kindergarten-first graders) and Brownies (second-third graders) who attend West Hills and Blue Grass elementary schools. The troop meets bimonthly to earn badges, learn Girl Scout lessons and plan community service projects. Despite their young ages, members of Troop 20797 are making a difference, and LeClair believes their involvement in Girl Scouts is inspiring them to be better people.

Members of West Knoxville Girl Scouts Troop 20797 smile for a photo during a meeting: (front) Izzy Saunders, June West, Adriana Martinez, Silvia Dye, Ruby Christian, Eleanor Stone, Addy Kate Gentry; (back) Olivia Hughes, Priscilla Williamson, Brandy LeClair, Cora Callis, Josie Walters, Emily Coatney, Zarina Humphrey and Emma Smith.

“The badges they earn are about being positive, considerate and caring,” LeClair said. “Overall, Girl Scouts teaches them how to be good people, which we always need more of.”

Although things do not always go as planned and some lessons are more difficult to learn than others, Girl Scouts gives members opportunities to practice not only getting along with others, but also working with people to enact change.

“Girl Scouts is a good place to make friends, gain confidence and learn to lead,” LeClair said. “I don’t know of another organization that offers the same experiences that Girl Scouts does. It’s truly lifechanging – I would know as someone who joined at an early age as well.”

Troop 20797 has collected linens for Young-Williams Animal Center and cat food for Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee. The troop also used profits from the 3,302 boxes of cookies the members sold to purchase wish-list items for shelter pets at Young-Williams Animal Center and support children’s rehabilitation at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“Every meeting starts with the girls reciting the Girl Scout Promise, which includes doing your best, having good character, standing up for others and, ultimately, making the world a better place,” LeClair said. “Embodying those qualities at such a young age isn’t easy, but Girl Scouts empowers them to be all those things and so much more.

“I hope this stirs something inside adults who have a girl in their life who might benefit from Girl Scouts because it’s the best decision I’ve made for my daughter and myself as a troop leader – I am very lucky to have Girl Scouts in my life!”

You can learn more about Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians at and find a troop by texting the word “JOIN” to 59618 or sending an email to [email protected].

Gretchen Crawley is VP of communications for Girl Scouts of Southern Appalachians. 

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