Juniors lead local Girl Scouts troop

Jeremy Alexander

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The Walla Walla Valley has more girls who want to be Girl Scouts than they have troop leaders. To fill the gap and give local girls the chance to be scouts, four Whitman students have stepped up to lead a Girl Scouts troop for local children.

Sarah Krawczak '16, Nicole Hodgkinson '16, Nina Henelsmith '16

Sarah Krawczak ’16, Nicole Hodgkinson ’16 and Nina Henelsmith ’16 lead a Girl Scouts troop in Walla Walla. Photo by Hannah Bashevkin.

Juniors Brooke Bessen, Nicole Hodgkinson, Nina Henelsmith and Sarah Krawczak saw an email when they were first-years on the Whitman College volunteer listserv about starting a troop. There was an overflow of girls in the Walla Walla Valley on waiting lists to join Girl Scouts troops. A way to help solve this problem was to recruit Whitman students and get them involved in this organization.

“We started when the girls were Daisies in kindergarten, and now they are now seven to eight years old. There are many great places on Whitman’s campus to explore with the girls. We took them to one of the astronomy labs one time and have reached out to professors who have kids in the program. We are trying to take them camping soon, but they are a little young to do much,” said Bessen.

The troop has meetings every other week at the Glover Alston Center (GAC). The girls have been really impressed with the troops growth over the last year. There were four girls when the Whitman students were sophomores, and now there are 10. The general consensus among the leaders is that this has been a terrific experience for not only the scouts but for everyone involved in the program.

“My experience has been great and I have really enjoyed getting involved in the community. I have met many very nice families through the troop that I probably would not have been exposed to as a Whitman student,” said Hodgkinson.

Leading a Girl Scouts troop anywhere is a big undertaking for four busy college students. Planning the troops activities takes a lot of time. The Whitman students create different lesson plans at every meeting and try to cater to what the girls want.

“We always do a welcome activity to get the girls moving around. The main activity depends on what patch the girls are earning for that given week. We try to incorporate STEM elements into each lesson because that is what most of us study at Whitman. After the main activity, we have snack time and then close the meeting,” said Henelsmith.

Whitman professors who are aware of the troop have been very impressed with these four girls’ commitment. The current leaders want to keep the troop going after they graduate.

“We are hoping since we are upperclassmen to recruit some underclassmen to get involved now with the troop. We want them to get to know the girls and take over the troop when we graduate Whitman,” said Bessen.

There is still a shortage of Girl Scouts troops in Walla Walla, and Whitman students who want to get involved may have the chance to create a troop of their own or take over for one of the current Whitman scout leaders when they graduate.

“The girls are great. We try to coordinate with the larger Girl Scouts organization as much as possible. There are 700 girl scouts in this area. There is a lot of want for troops and a lot of girls that are interested,” said Hodgkinson.

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