The members of Girl Scouts troop 20101 aren’t exactly what everyone often associates with the organization. Yes, they sell cookies and wear badges, but it’s who they are because of the Girl Scouts that unites them.
For starters, the troop is made up of older girls including Cadettes in grades 6-8 and Seniors in grades 9-10. One girl holds a black belt in karate, another is a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and yet another is a cadet in Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC). Despite their differences, Girl Scouts connects them.
“Girl Scouts is for everyone, at any age,” said Kelley Rowland, one of the troop’s co-leaders and a Girl Scouts mom.
It’s a misconception that Girl Scouts is intended primarily for elementary school students. Rowland’s troop demonstrates that being a Girl Scout extends well into teenage years. Students from kindergarten to 12th grade can join Girl Scouts. Women who have graduated can also get involved in Girl Scouts by volunteering with a local troop.
As Girl Scouts get older, their interests change. Rowland said the secret to engaging older Girl Scouts is always asking for input. Last year, the troop traveled to Ijams Nature Center to bridge the girls from Cadettes to Seniors via ziplining! It’s one example of how the troop’s activities adapted to keep the girls engaged.
“We sit down twice a year to talk with the girls about what they want to do,” Rowland said. “Then, we do it. Listening and letting them take the lead – that’s what it’s all about.”
Rowland’s daughter Rilee, who started as a Brownie in first grade and is now a Senior Girl Scout, said what brings her and others in the troop together is the bond of Girl Scouts.
“We always have each other’s backs, and we’re the first ones to invite someone to our lunch table,” said Rilee, a Bearden High School student. “Being a Girl Scout, for me, is about being part of something bigger, and no matter how old I am, I’ll always appreciate the memories I’ve made in Girl Scouts.”
Lucy Branam is creative content coordinator for Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians.