Congratulations to the Upvalley Girl Scout troop leaders and the 120 active Girl Scouts in the 10 local troops on the national organization’s 100th birthday, which was Monday, March 12.
A few hours before Monday night’s birthday celebration for the Girl Scouts of America, Sara Cakebread, director of the Upper Napa Valley Girl Scouts, and troop leaders Ann Sorenson and Norma Ferriz addressed the Star’s editorial board. The Girl Scouts organization is so strong locally in great part because of the efforts of its leaders. Sorenson and Cakebread have been troop leaders for many years and all three embrace the mission of the national organization: Build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Cakebread said that’s a great line, but even more, it’s true. The girls who are part of Girl Scouts learn responsibility and leadership skills and, even better, learn to care for one another. In the huge North Coast area, which stretches from the Bay Area to Oregon, there are 47,000 Girl Scouts, 32,000 adult volunteers, 150 staff members and 25 board members. Currently there are 3.2 million Girl Scouts in the United States.
Ferriz oversees three troops, including one in Calistoga, for Latinas from 5 to 12 years old. “I see how they care for each other,” she said, “how they teach each other and do activities as a team.” For example, during a recent activity, selling Girl Scout cookies, a 12-year-old was teaching a 5-year-old math skills, including division. How many $5 bills are there in a $20 bill?, the older Girl Scout asked the younger one. After much thought, the younger Scout came up with the correct answer and she was so pleased.
Ferriz was thrilled — the girls were having fun and learning at the same time, without even knowing it.
Girls join the Scouts for an overall experience. They learn a little bit of everything — outdoor experiences, arts and crafts and entrepreneurship — but it is all self-directed, with the troop leaders guiding the activities. Sorenson, who has been a troop leader for 30 years, said her girls always come up with ideas for activities. In her troop, it is a tradition for the graduating high school seniors to pick a summer activity, which will be whitewater rafting this year and included backpacking in the Grand Canyon a few years ago.
Girl Scouts range in age from kindergarten and first grade (Daisy Girl Scouts) to seniors in high school (Ambassador Girl Scouts). Cakebread said the nice thing about the organization is that no one is any better at being a Girl Scout than anyone else. “All the girls can succeed,” she said. Cakebread has eight girls in her troop who are mostly 17 years old. Three of them have been Girl Scouts and friends since they were in kindergarten.
Both Cakebread and Sorenson said they love seeing the girls grow in their confidence, in their abilities and in their appreciation of one another.
Cakebread’s goal for the future: to have a new troop start in kindergarten every year, so there is a troop in every grade. To do that, though, takes volunteers who can lead the troops. If you’d like to make a positive difference in a girl’s life by becoming part of Girl Scouting, contact Cakebread at 254-5309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.