In an age beset by youth problems, local Girl Scout programs counter the trend
or every 100 who join the Girl Scouts:
18 will develop hobbies through the Scouts that they will enjoy throughout their lives;
17 will become Girl Scout volunteers as adults;
12 will experience their first contact with a church through the Girl Scouts;
Eight will enter a vocation they learned about through the Scouting program;
One will enter the clergy;
One will utilize her Girl Scout skills to save her own life and
One will use abilities gained through Scouting to save the life of another.
Compared to other statistics on the fate of Americas youth, these figures clearly illustrate the value of the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. the largest voluntary organization for girls in the world which aims to inspire the highest ideals of character, conduct, honesty and service, and to create happy and resourceful citizens.
Scouting helped me to face problems in life. I learned to find solutions as an individual and as a team member, said Kate Ryan a Scout for 12 years and one of 10 Clearwater Scientologists who have trained to become Girl Scout leaders and co-leaders in recent years, for five troops of roughly 8 to 18 girls apiece ranging in age from 5 to 14.
Scouting helped me to recognize that what matters most is who I ultimately am, what my interests are and where my search for personal growth leads me, she added.
Ryan, leader of one of two Cadette Girl Scout troops sponsored by the Church of Scientology, said she likes to share what she has learned from Scouting with others. What I want to pass on to these girls is the spirit of Girl Scouting and our fellowship with the world, she said.
In addition to increasing outdoor skills and self-reliance, the program launches careers and helps individuals in many subjects, including math and science, awarding special badges when competence is demonstrated.
Brownies enjoy their own share of adventures. These 6- to 8-year-olds balance learning skills with providing service to others in the community. On one recent outing, they learned how to ride and care for horses. In return for this training, troop members planted flowers around their hostesss home. Then, utilizing their new skills, they went riding at a nearby stable.
I enjoy working with the girls, said Brownie leader Mary Beth Nuckles, particularly helping them have fun while learning.
Although their individual activities have ranged as far afield as the John F. Kennedy Space Center and numerous sites of interest in between, on March 8, all of the units participated in the annual Girl Scout Sunday service, held in the Crystal Ballroom atop the Fort Harrison, during which the Church of Scientology was recognized for its sponsorship of the five local Girl Scout troops.
A vital part of Girl Scouting is training in values, with the purpose of becoming better individuals. A survey found that Girl Scouts were far less likely to cheat on tests than those of the same age not in the Scouts, while also being far more disposed to choose truth over actions dictated by peer pressure. 70 percent of the Girl Scouts polled said that the Girl Scout Promise and Law aided them in making moral decisions.
In alignment with the Promise, which includes a pledge to help others, the girls regularly contribute time and skills to many forms of community service. Thus, they were among the 1,200 volunteers that cleared away 25 tons of trash from downtown Clearwater in the fall of 1997. They manned crafts tables and face-painting booths at the annual Christmas party sponsored by the Church of Scientology for hundreds of Pinellas County foster children and their foster parents. And they acted as Race Marshals, directing runners at the recent Say No to Drugs Holiday Classic.
In Scouting, Ryan noted, girls learn to work in a group and to treat others as they would like to be treated. They also know their actions in life do make a difference.
Joy Divenuti, another troop leader, said, I enjoy the satisfaction of helping girls work together and accomplish things. They acquire new skills, gain confidence and learn about being a group member. My daughter is building friendships now that I think will last into her adult life.
In an age plagued by drug abuse and crime, the Girl Scout program instills values to counter the trend. The many whose lives it touches come away with positive influences and increased opportunities to lead successful lives.
Girl Scouting is open to girls between the ages of 5 and 17, and to men and women over 18, who make the Girl Scout Promise, accept the Girl Scout Law and pay the Scouts annual membership dues. For more information, call the Suncoast Girl Scout Council at 447-3350.