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Scouting Out the Girl-Wide World

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February 24, 2012 by wcobserver

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WASHINGTON COUNTY – Local Girl Scouts have been coming out in full force lately, and not just because they’re selling delicious cookies. On March 8, the Girl Scouts of America celebrates its 100th anniversary and area troops have been keeping busy marking the occasion with events in Washington County.

At Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, Troop 5251 celebrated the scouts’ birthday with a room full of period displays of the past 100 years, along with a Chili supper for the public on Saturday, Feb. 18.

There are about 12 troops comprised of over more than 100 girls in Lincoln, Farmington and Prairie Grove, said Troop leader Beth Swearingen at the chili supper. Cherokee Cole is another area leader, and like Swearingen, has been involved in Girl Scouts since she was a Brownie herself, in 1967. She’s seen plenty of changes in the 45 years she’s been involved.

“One thing I do know is we wore our uniforms to school on meeting days and our leaders wore their uniforms to all the meetings,” Cole said. “I can still remember my leaders with their green, and their hats and their clothes and the whole nine yards. This is me now in my uniform.” Cole pointed to her pullover jacket with a small, simple Girl Scout insignia on the upper left-hand side. “So, we’ve become much more casual,” Cole laughed.

The official birthday of the Girl Scouts is on March 12, established by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon in Savannah, Ga., in 1912. A hundred years later, the organization has nearly 3.2 million members with more than 50 million female alumnae, according to the National Girl Scout Council.

Despite the changes over the years — there’s also “many more rules” and “better training,” said Cole — the girls are no less busy. Mary Graham, the service unit director for Prairie Grove, Lincoln and Farmington, said the troops have held a safety event, several food drives, a Powder Puff Pinewood Derby and — of course — a cookie rally. The girls also frequently assist elderly groups at local health centers. On Sunday, Feb. 19, the West Fork Girl Scout Troop 5469 were having some fun, themselves. They joined area troops from Fayetteville and Springdale at the Fay- etteville Town Center for World Think- ing Day, the annual council-wide event in which troops research and set up booths dedicated to various countries. The West Fork troop, which has about 18 girls, had a Ghana booth, decked out with the coun- try’s national colors and information about the country. They also displayed Ghanaian bracelets and served up samples of sweet potato coconut pudding.

The West Fork Girl Scouts’ impressive display shouldn’t be that surprising. After all, the troop won the float contest at the 2011 WestFest with a 9-foot tall birthday cake display.

“My favorite thing is all the projects we do,” said girl scout Madilynn Vankleeck, who wore a patch-covered green strap as she served up delicious samples of the Ghana treat.

On the weekend of the anniversary, March 9 – 11, Girl Scouts statewide will celebrate with a “100th Birthday Bash Spectacular” at the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock.

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