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100 years: Girl Scouts has inspired young women for a century

by: Sara Hottman Boring Middle School student Hailey Marino, 12, shows off her bronze pin, the highest award available to Junior-level Girl Scouts. She plans on earning the top Girl Scout honor: the gold pin.

On a Monday evening, Brownies tentatively screamed at the big bad wolf.

'No, really scream,' instructed Hailey Marino, 12, a Cadette.

The Brownies, 8 and 9 years old, giggled at the prospect of such disorder. With a little more encouragement, one screamed shrilly, then immediately hid her face, plastered with a smile.

Marino and her Cadette co-producer, Haley Peterslie, 11, broke into applause.

The girls are teaching the Brownies how to put on a play, Little Red Riding Hood, to earn the Girl Scouts theater badge - a motivation behind the community service and good works Girl Scouts do.

'They just like to see them on their vests,' said Carol Handke, troop leader for fifth- and sixth-grade girls - Junior level - in Service Unit 15, which encompasses 347 girls in Gresham, Corbett and Sandy.

Badges are an evolution to the Girl Scouts organization, which this month is celebrating its centennial: 100 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low held the first Girl Scout meeting in Savannah, Ga. But Gresham scouts and leaders say the core purpose of Girl Scouts remains the same.

Girls only

According to Girl Scouts lore, Low started the meetings to give girls a place for companionship and to participate in not-so-ladylike activities - hiking, camping and playing sports - in an era when women had limited rights and were oftentimes isolated.

Over the past century, the goals persist, said Handke, whose daughters went through the highest level of Girl Scouts.

'I was a Camp Fire Girl, but I thought it was important to have a girls-only space,' she said as her Junior girls ran around playing hide-and-seek. 'They like to play the games no matter what age. Maybe they feel safe being with just girls.'

The scouts say they've stayed involved for the friends, trips and activities Girl Scouts provides.

Marino, a Boring Middle School student and scout through Daisy, Brownie, Junior and now a Cadette, said she likes the connection Girl Scouts share - scouts were her first friends when she moved to a new school, plus, 'We can talk about things we wouldn't want to talk about in front of boys.'

While Peterslie, a Floyd Light Middle School student, enjoyed Girl Scouts, she nearly quit after a bad Junior camp experience where other girls picked on her.

But after a few weeks away she was drawn back to Girl Scouts.

'I was always a Girl Scout,' she said. 'It's just what people knew me as.'

Serving community

Now Peterslie is working for those much sought-after badges, and plans on finishing through the final Ambassador level.

'I want to make the world a better place,' Peterslie said. 'I want to help other kids succeed.'

Marino has remained an enthusiastic scout, mapping out her route to finish Girl Scouts with bronze, silver and gold pins - the highest awards scouts can earn as Juniors, Cadettes and Ambassadors.

Girls earn the awards through long-term community service projects. Marino earned her bronze pin, the Junior-level award, by helping her special needs brother with school and therapy.

Her silver pin project will be starting a Girl Scout troop at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center, where she was treated for injuries following a bike accident.

'I got to leave, but there were so many kids there who had to stay,' she said. 'I just want to do something to give back to them.'




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