Common Ground: Girl Scout experience a treasure _lowres

Photo provided by MICHELLE WEEKS -- Girl Scout Sophie Weeks

Though I never earned Scouting awards or sold many cookies, my short stint as a Girl Scout exposed me to adventures I still treasure.

There was the camping trip to Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park in Robert, where I canoed and swam with my fellow Scouts in a man-made lake. There were troop meetings where we made homemade chocolate candy and fanned out into the neighborhood to sing carols or test some of our less-than-perfect goodies on our neighbors.

I gained an appreciation for learning to get along. Sleeping inside tents and small campers in close quarters took us away from our comfortable homes and taught us the value of teamwork, overcoming our differences and helping our leaders with cooking, cleanup and preparations for the day.

Though I did not remain in Scouting beyond junior high, there are many Girl Scouts who have their sights set on completing the program and earning Scouting’s highest honor — the Gold Award.

Girl Scout Sophie Weeks, 14, is going for the gold. Since she joined Troop 10478 about eight years ago, she has participated in so many more programs and activities than were available when I was a Scout. For her silver award, she and her troop donated 100 blankets to a children’s hospital.

“I like the opportunities it gives us,” Weeks said.

Earlier this month, Weeks and her fellow Scouts explored careers in science, technology, engineering and math and became lab sleuths at Delgado Community College in New Orleans.

Part of Weeks’ assignment was to collect pondwater from City Park and test samples for bacteria. After peering under a microscope at E. coli and staph bacteria collections, students placed the bacteria onto plates of food.

“The stuffed squid had E. coli in it,” said Weeks, who is home-schooled and entering 10th grade.

Weeks’ detective work helped earn her a spot in Delgado’s STEM Academy program internship next summer, she said.

“I’ve always been interested in science,” said Weeks. “I want to go into zoology, work with endangered species and study microbiology.”

Weeks’ troop also took part in a Leadership Journey program that helps girls investigate their interests. Weeks followed her own carbon footprint.

She is also a Wrangler, a Girl Scout program that pairs horse lovers with adult mentors to teach horseback riding to younger Scouts.

“Working with the horses and riding them, it feels like you’re a part of them,” Weeks said.

Today’s Girl Scouts do everything from hiking, camping and selling cookies, to helping protect the planet, designing robots and helping improve neighborhoods.

That’s what makes Scouting so special. It makes you feel as though you are a part of something worthwhile and even life changing.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at chantewriter@hotmail.com.