Make time for Girl Scouts in middle school

Gretchen CrawleyOur Town Youth, Powell

The transition from elementary to middle school is a time of significant changes for students. There are new expectations and extracurriculars, which could leave children without time for the activities they enjoyed in elementary school such as Girl Scouts. But, when girls leave a troop in middle school, they’re missing out on some of the best parts of the Girl Scout experience.

Tracy Jarnigan has led Girl Scout troops for 21 years. Her group, Troop 20769, is for Juniors, or girls in fourth and fifth grades. The Girl Scouts attend Powell and Halls elementary schools. Jarnigan’s mission is to convince the troop members to stay in the organization as they start middle school.

“Keeping them in Girl Scouts through middle school is the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Jarnigan said. “There are so many things that they can get into at this age, and I want them to be prepared for what’s to come so that they can be safe, stand up for themselves and know that their Girl Scout sisters have their back.”

Girl Scouts can use the independence and leadership skills in middle school as Cadettes that they developed as Daisies and Brownies. The support system and girl-led opportunities that the organization offers also encourage girls to be more confident. Whether it is sitting with someone new at lunch or speaking in front of the class, Girl Scouts sets up students for success as they move to a new school.

“Girl Scouts teaches life lessons, instills moral standards and puts goal setting in practice,” Jarnigan said. “We’re truly building girls of courage, confidence and character, which they need in middle school.”

Jarnigan’s troop also is involved in the community. The girls have helped pets get adopted, packed meals for people in need, raised funds for cancer research, planted community gardens and hosted holiday celebrations. The key to keeping girls in Girl Scouts is letting them lead the way, Jarnigan said.

“I urge anyone with a girl in their lives to give Girl Scouts a try. I want every single girl to be a part of this because I don’t want her to miss the opportunity, especially with middle school approaching. A Girl Scout can be anything she wants it to be – whether she likes gardening or shooting bows and arrows. She will soar, I promise.”

Troop 20769 and others across East Tennessee always are accepting new members. Learn more about Girl Scouts of the 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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