Learning how to make friends starts early in life with simple lessons like sharing toys and speaking kindly. For some children, the skill comes naturally, and others must make more of an effort. Donna Parr, leader of Girl Scouts Troop 21189, recognized this in her own daughters as they started school. Parr remembered her time in Girl Scouts and registered her daughters, hoping the experience would help them meet girls their age and connect the family to their new community.
“I’m a single mom, and we just moved here five years ago,” Parr said. “I have great memories from Girl Scouts – that’s what I wanted them to have, too. Girl Scouts is a sisterhood unlike anything else I’ve experienced.”
Parr established the troop in late 2021 in the Powell/Heiskell area. In several months, the group has grown to include 12 members, ranging from Daisies (kindergarten-first grade) to Brownies (second and third graders). The Girl Scouts also attend four different, local schools, which allows the members to meet girls outside their usual social circle in the classroom.
Troop 21189’s activities, as Parr planned, center on group experiences. The troop leader takes each girl’s interests into account and rotates the projects to represent everyone and ensure the Girl Scouts are doing something they enjoy. The troop recently completed its first cookie-selling season, went on a nature scavenger hunt and earned age-appropriate badges.
“It’s inspiring to watch the girls explore their interests and become best friends,” Parr said. “Girl Scouts has helped me teach my daughters to treat people fairly and not be afraid to make new friends. They know their Girl Scout sisters are on their side, and that friendship is invaluable.”
If you know of a child that could benefit from Girl Scouts, Parr recommends a discussion with them about joining and then shadowing nearby troops to find the right fit. Unlike a lot of extracurricular activities, Girl Scouts often exposes members to students from other schools, increasing their confidence in social settings. Girl Scouts also incorporates a variety of experiences to match members’ interests.
“Definitely give Girl Scouts a try,” Parr said. “The organization has become a family for us, and we’re always welcoming new members.”
Learn more about Girl Scouts of the Southern Appalachians at girlscoutcsa.org 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.