By Lauren Moore (USAG Wiesbaden)July 8, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - “What did you do today?” isn’t just a question at the beginning of a Girl Scout meeting anymore, it’s their new motto.
Scouts have evolved from gender-role-skills-focused organizations to places where youths can “step outside what they know as traditional roles, gain self-confidence and focus on community service,” said Girl Scout Troop 276 leader Holly Strout.
“Scouting is really important; it gives them great opportunities to do things they wouldn’t get to do otherwise. It also teaches them leadership and skills they need and there is so much growth because of that,” said Pia Heiges, mother of a Girl Scout.
“It’s awesome. It’s perfect. There are a lot of expectations, but you learn a lot,” said Boy Scout Ben Dunphy.
The boys and girls must complete yearly service projects in order to move on to higher ranks. Unity and community between ranks has grown, the Scouts said.
“Girl Scouts must go through a ‘journey’ before they move up a rank. This is a project that they work on together all year, which is beneficial because it teaches them to stick things through,” said Heiges.
“What was so great about this ‘bridging’ from the Brownies to a Junior is that the old Juniors helped them and worked with them. The Brownies worked with the Daisies too and taught them some things. It was really amazing to see the camaraderie,” said Heiges.
The support and interaction between Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts has also increased, Scouts said. “Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are much closer now. There are often Girl Scouts at Eagle Scout projects, and vice versa,” said Strout. For example, as a Cadet project, the girls took a trip to Italy to clean up a beach and were joined by two Boy Scouts.
Other projects the Boy and Girl Scouts have done are the buddy poppy project, which they work on together annually, an Eagle Scout project of building dog obstacles for service dogs, and an honorary dog house commemorating the dogs that have died in service for a Girl Scout silver award.
It’s not all hard work though. “Next year we are going to Paris, and we might go to Disneyland,” said Girl Scout Melanie Hirschel-Weber. Brittney Molloy added, “It’s fun just being with friends and doing fun activities.”
While the Girl Scouts program has noticeably evolved in the recent years, some traditions stay alive. “My mom kept all her old Brownies stuff so I wear all her stuff. Sometimes I borrow her junior sash and wear it to meetings and pretend I have all the badges already as a joke,” said Alison Strout.
“It’s cool in this community to be involved in Scouts. We work really well with the Wiesbaden Teen Center, and there are many strong military role models for the boys and girls,” said Holly Strout. One role model in particular is Dr. Schlosser, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation director, who is a big supporter of the Wiesbaden programs. As a distinguished Eagle Scout, he does everything he can to help and motivate the youths.
Still, the Girl and Boy Scouts need more volunteers. “I want to make sure everyone knows there are many Boy Scout and Girl Scout Troops in the community, and we are looking for adult volunteers. We especially encourage single Soldiers and Airmen to come out and participate,” said Strout.
Girls Scouts meet every Tuesday for “summer camp” from 4 to 8 p.m. and do fun summer activities. Both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts continue to go on camping trips, swimming excursions and perform their service projects during the summer months. The Scouts recently joined Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers members June 30 on Wiesbaden Army Airfield to help promote responsible driving before the July Fourth weekend.
For more information on Scouting in Europe go to www.usagso-na.org or www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/Youth/Opportunities.aspx.