With green vests and good deeds, the Girl Scouts of America will celebrate its
100th anniversary today.
But for local troops and their leaders, the celebration has been as much about giving back as it has been about kicking back and commendation.
In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts, members of Troop 40415 in Bellwood work on a string art project which taught them what scouts in the past earned badges for. From left are Olivia Stetter, Mikayla Lasher, Christina Langenbauer and Kaitlyn Farber.
Terri Pearce, 41, of Antis Township, said her Cadet Troop No. 40415 will take part in the festivities by traveling to the national "Girl Scouts Rock the Mall: 100th Anniversary Sing-Along" in Washington D.C. on June 9.
"That's why they've really been pushing cookies," she said.
But her girls will also mark the anniversary by planting 50 saplings along the Rails-to-Trails in Bellwood, as well as honoring older Girl Scouts with an ice cream social they're calling "Sweets Through the Years."
Pearce said coming upon the 100-year milestone has been exciting for her Girl Scouts, and knowing that they're part of such a tradition has kept their interest in the organization from waning.
"They want to keep going with Scouts because they know it's been around for years and years," she said.
From camping and community service to woodworking and cake decorating, many area troop leaders agree that being a Scout gives these young girls many opportunities to do things they wouldn't have the opportunity to do otherwise.
This includes Lori Shaw, 45, of Gallitzin, who is the leader of three separate Troops - Daisy Troop No. 42010, Brownie Troop No. 40469 and Junior Troop No. 40076 - that have done a variety of community service projects to commemorate the 100th anniversary.
"I really try to instill in my girls that if you believe you can do something, you can achieve it," Shaw said.
Her troops have certainly put the slogan to good use. In accordance with a call from the national Girl Scout organization to complete certain challenges in increments of 100 in honor of the anniversary, Shaw's troops did things like collecting 100 cell phones to be donated to a battered women's shelter, making 100 Christmas cards to send to troops overseas and collect 100 magazines per girl to be recycled.
To acknowledge their efforts, First Lady Michelle Obama, who was named as the Girl Scouts Honorary National President in October, sent the troops a congratulatory letter and signed pictures for each girl.
Shaw said her girls should be proud because they're part of something that's good for their community.
"I told them that they're a part of history that they're not going to see again," Shaw said. "It's something to be proud of because not many organizations have lasted 100 years."
Mary Jo Manley, 55, of Altoona and leader of Troop No. 43019 which has Brownies, Juniors and Cadets, said being involved in Girl Scouts not only provides girls with new experiences, but also teaches them life lessons.
"I think it's just making them aware of their surroundings, and about leaving a place better than they found it," she said. "I think that's invaluable to these kids. Sometimes we're so busy with day- to-day activities, we wouldn't have time to teach them."
The girls in Manley's troop have done a variety of activities over the years, including taking
Zumba and Pilates classes, touring the WJAC-TV station in Johnstown and an alpaca farm, and staying overnight at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
But for the big occasion upon them, her troop will be taking a trip to the "Big Apple" - seeing a Broadway play and taking a tour of the Girl Scout national headquarters in New York City.
"That's how we're going to celebrate," Manley said.
Mirror Staff Writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.