Girl Scouts: Celebrating 100 year milestone
YATES, SCHUYLER COUNTIES—Honest, fair, considerate, courageous, and strong. These are some of the attributes Girl Scouts promise to be when reciting the Girl Scout Law.
The national Girl Scouts organization is celebrating its 100th anniversary this month. This includes decades of upholding the Girl Scout Law across the country and especially in Yates and Schuyler Counties.
In Yates, there are currently about 120 Girl Scouts and 15 troops throughout Penn Yan and Dundee. Cheryl Bowers, Girl Scout service unit leader for Penn Yan and Dundee, said this year she registered 28 new scouts. She said that over the last five years or so, the number of Girl Scouts in Penn Yan and Dundee has held steady. Bowers added that “as girls get older, it is harder to hold their interest.” However, she said that does not hinder the troops from serving the community, learning, and being leaders.
In Schuyler County, there are six troops with 70 girls total. Watkins Glen Troop Leader Monica Jackson said they are very active in the community. She said many maintain membership as they get older and have jobs.
“They’re not just the member of a troop, they’re the member of a family,” said Jackson.
The very first Girl Scout troop was founded by Juliette Gordon Low on March 12, 1912, in Savannah, Ga. Girls of all ages can participate: grades kindergarten to first as Brownie, grades four to five as Junior, six to eight as Cadette, nine to 10 as Senior, and 11 to 12 as Ambassador.
Dundee Troop Leader Deedee Coriale said, “from my days as a Girl Scout (35 years ago) we did a lot of camping. It’s still a big thing to do.”
She added that scouts nowadays have a lot of other things to do as well. Coriale explained she did not do as much community service as the Girl Scouts today do. She said girls have donated to the Red Cross, Keuka Comfort Care Home, and the Yates County Humane Society.
“There are a lot of alumni in the area,” added Coriale. “Some, like me, get back into it.”
Montour Falls Troop Leader Mary Coykendall said she used to be a Girl Scout when she was younger and so was her mother. Coykendall said scouting has a history in Schuyler County that stretches back to at least the 1930s. She said when she was a girl, one of the popular events was the day camp at Havana Glen. Coykendall explained all the girls couldn’t wait to be old enough to spend the night at the end of the week.
“We had wonderful leaders,” she added.
Bowers said one of the biggest changes in recent years was the reorganization of the regional Seven Lakes Council to NYPENN Pathways two years ago. She added that the program is also constantly changing and evolving. Bowers said the organization has new focuses and has changed basic badge earning into a program called Journeys. She explained more focus is put on skill building, even with the traditional cookie sales currently underway.
“It’s more than just walking around and selling cookies,” she said. Bowers explained cookies sales now teach the girls people skills, money management, and business ethics.
Jackson said her girls really enjoy the Journeys program. She explained Girl Scouts updated the guides for members so that it is something that can be built upon and held onto as the girls get older.
In celebration of 100 years, the national Girl Scouts organization is holding an event in Washington D.C. called Rock The Mall, June 9. Bowers said 250,000 girls are expected to attend, including 110 girls and adults from Penn Yan and Dundee. One troop from Schuyler is also attending the event.
Coriale added that NYPENN is also holding a regional event in July at the Cayuga County Fairground. She said the jamboree will be for scouts in the council’s own 23 counties.
Jackson said the Watkins, Montour, and Odessa troops have a number of things planned for the centennial celebration. The girls will be holding a sendoff of biodegradable “wish boats” onto Seneca Lake, March 12. The Cadette Senior and Ambassador leaders are holding an Alumni Tea March 18. Past Girl Scouts are invited to attend. She said old uniforms and memorabilia will be on display.