“Flying Up” To The Next Level Of Girl Scouting
On a beautiful sunny May evening, a single bridge crossing a small local creek provided the magic for 22 young girls to advance to the next level of Girl Scouting.
The bike trail bridge spanning Meadow Creek in Eagle River, decorated with flowers and lined with family, leaders and girls, provided the backdrop for Chugiak Eagle River Girl Scouts end of the year bridging ceremony.
Tiahna, Daisy Troop 635, explained the bridging ceremony. She said the girls walked across the bridge. At the halfway point they “take off our vests” and get a new sash or vest from the next level. The girls continued across the bridge as a Brownie with her new brown sash or vest. Juniors receive a green vest, but once a girl is a Cadette, Senior, or Ambassador, the vest color stays the same.
Sadie, Troop 635, spent the year as a Daisy Girl Scout, the program for girls in Kindergarten. She and her troop earned “Daisy” petals. Each petal represents the values and purpose of the Girl Scout Law. One activity petal activity helped the girls practice good deeds.
“We had a [glass] bottle and pulled out papers that told us what to do,” explained Sadie.
Her paper told her to “smile at three people for no reason,” she said. “The people [usually] smiled back…sometimes.”
Chris Kelliher, volunteer co-service unit manager for CER, thought the bridging event went well, including the perfect weather. After the event, the girls, families and leaders met on the playground at Eagle River Elementary for a barbecue picnic. Barbara Knaak and Kelliher’s husband, Mark, were the grill cooks.
Scouting Programs Funded By Cookie Sales
On Feb. 25, Barbara Knaak had 18 pallets of Girl Scout cookies delivered to her cul de sac in Chugiak. Knaak is the CER Volunteer Girl Scout service unit product sales manager. Most of the cookies had been picked up by troops by the end of the day, but another 550 cases were stored inside her garage as a “cookie cupboard” for troops to order more cases. Each case holds 12 boxes of cookies.
“We were the top selling Service Unit in Alaska last year,” says Knaak. Last year the service unit sold 43,479 boxes of cookies.
Top sellers in CER are predictably the Thin Mints (12,516 boxes) and Samoas (11,808 boxes). “This year the council actually ran out of Thin Mints,” says Knaak.
Girls earn 55 cents per box for their troop. Another five cents goes to the service unit, where Knaak says it is invested back into the girls. If troops complete their annual troop registration early, they are eligible for an additional five cents per box. There is another five cents per box if the troop’s per girl average number of boxes sold reaches 230 boxes.
About $1.15 goes to Little Brownie Baker, the cookie manufacturer, and the rest of the money stays in Alaska with the Girl Scouts of Alaska Council where Knaak says it is invested back into the girls through programs, opportunities and community events.
“We try to hold events in the service unit for no cost to the girls,” says Knaak of the service unit cut from sales. The service unit also supplies fun patches for the events and offers scholarships for girls who may need help paying the annual dues or event fees.
Kelliher says the service unit had an event about every month. “To help keep the girls and troops engaged,” she says.
Every box a girl sells gives her a credit of 20 cents towards Encampment. Cookie sales also offer credits for day camp and resident camp. A sale of 600 boxes allows a girl one full week at resident camp.
Junior troop 614 sold enough cookies that every girl in the troop will be able to attend camp this summer based on cookie credits.
All in all, the CER Girl Scouts sold 42,467 boxes of cookies this year and raised $212,335 dollars. That works out to about one and a half boxes per capita in Chugiak-Eagle River.
After the annual bridging picnic, Troop 614 took time to receive their prizes for their cookie sales. Girls earned different incentives based on the number of boxes of cookies they sold. Troop cookie manager Amy Vick had each girl’s incentives boxed up in colorful cookie boxes. Before awarding the incentives, there was still a bit of business to cover. Vik explained that the troop still had several cases of cookies to deliver to JBER. The troop supplied cookies to families of deployed soldiers as well as sending care packages earlier to those still deployed.
Top five troop cookie sales went to Troop 690 with 6454 boxes, Troop 614 with 4890 boxes, Troop 622 with 2745 boxes, Troop 638 with 2709 boxes and Troop 657 with 2160 boxes.
Volunteers Keep Girl Scouts Moving
There are around 350 Girl Scouts in the Chugiak Eagle River area in about 35 troops. Approximately 140 adult volunteers support the girls as they seek to develop “courage, confidence and character” through Girl Scouting.
“The Unit has an amazing group of adult volunteers,” Sarah Gutherie, Member Services and Program Specialist with the Girl Scouts of Alaska Council, said. She is assigned to assist and work with the CER service unit.
Gutherie says the volunteers actively mentor girls from grades K to 12 as they discover new ideas, develop outdoor skills, participate in STEM activities, plan and implement exciting travel adventures, and provide service in their community.
“Our volunteers give generously of their time and talents supporting the Girl Scout mission,” said Gutherie. She says the volunteers support local events and educational opportunities for girls.
On Tuesday, May 6, Gutherie and Kelliher honored the volunteers who make things happen for the girls in Chugiak-Eagle River. The volunteers, mostly women, gathered in the back of the sanctuary of Community Covenant Church in Eagle River. They enjoyed a buffet dinner while keynote speaker, Lifetime Girl Scout and Chugiak graduate, Mary McCormick spoke of her internship at the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts destination, Our Chalet, in Switzerland. No kids allowed at this event.
The laughter and conversation was energetic and sincere. Small gifts of plants and placards decorated the tables. Gutherie honored several volunteers for their years of service with year pins and thanked individual women and their troops for their work on events all year. Among those honored were Whitney Bowdish, Mia Carson, Ann Corbett, Mary Graber, Barb Grimm, Wendy Hutchings, Melissa Jones and Troop 690, Barbara Knaak, Stephanie McDonald and Troop 916.
Editor: An earlier version of this article listed the names of Girls who “flew up” to the next level scouting at this Bridging Ceremony.