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Love Notes

Girl Scouts' newest ambassador is a "Lov(e)ing" example of achievement

Until a few weeks ago, my knowledge of Girl Scouts was fairly minimal. I knew why I never joined. I also remember attending the 1965 Girl Scout Roundup at Farragut where Coeur d’Alene’s Louise Shadduck welcomed me, acting like she certainly remembered my face from the one and only time we’d met before. That familiarity certainly impressed me.

Of course, the late Louise Shadduck was a phenomenal and charming woman, known throughout Idaho as a great ambassador.  As Idaho’s Commerce Secretary, she was instrumental in bringing both the Girl Scout Roundup and the 1967 Boy Scout Jamboree to Farragut. 

Although I was a Brown during my early years, I was never a Brownie Scout. At that time, it was much more convenient for us country kids to join 4-H, while city girls joined scouts. My contemporaries, Marilyn Dalby Sabella, Christine Moon Hengstler and Susan McConnaughey Hedeen, all have great memories of their scouting experiences under guidance from devoted leaders like Marilyn’s mom Marilyn, Audrey Piatt and Mrs. Bowman.

Long known as one of Sandpoint’s civic leaders “extraordinaire,” Marilyn viewed scouting as “awesome and life-changing ... the hikes, the campfires, the sing-alongs ... the community service projects taught me a lot about loving and respecting the earth and especially the importance of service to others.” All paid off for her as an adult, known for her endless contributions to Sandpoint. A few years ago she was honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by (formerly known as) the Inland Empire Council of Girl Scouts.

For Chris, a distinguished and oft-published psychology professor/researcher at Pacific Lutheran University and the University of Washington, scouting meant a basic background in Roberts Rules of Order, which she has used throughout her life. Girl Scout activities at Camp Stidwell on Mirror Lake also planted the seed for her love of hiking and French culture.

“I can close my eyes and see the giant tamarack trees, smell the dried grasses and hear the grasshoppers,” she recalls. “The hike was led by a group of women, including a stunning young French woman, Elizabeth O’ Meara ... when I think about it, my lifelong love of France probably started that summer with my introduction to Elizabeth’s grace and what I took to be a ‘why not?’ way of looking at life.”

Meanwhile, a Brownie leader named Mrs. Bowman left an indelible mark in Susan’s heart.

“ ... she made her house available to little girls fledging out in their first group activity beyond school or church,” Susan, a Virginia business owner, remembers. “My experience with her was probably my first independent opportunity to exercise service to others.

“The service end ... is what attracted me most,” she adds. “For girls to band together in a common cause to help others in some manner, to be friendly and helpful to one another ... the comradeship felt in belonging to something bigger than one’s self. That was what scouting was for me ....”

 Several decades have passed since my friends participated in scouting, but many basic principles and activities associated with the national organization, founded in 1912 by Juliette Gordon Low, and now known as Girl Scouts of the USA remain steadfast and sacred to members, leaders and organization professionals like my daughter-in-law, Debbie Love. A few years ago, Debbie, a Boise native and BSU grad, began working for GSUSA with southern Idaho’s  Silver Sage Council.

Even with her connections, I still didn’t know much more about Girl Scouts, except that we seemed to have a lot more Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Samoas around the house. In January, 2010, after moving to Sandpoint, Debbie transferred to the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington & Northern Idaho. She now serves as its program and membership development coordinator. 

To learn more about the organization and to spotlight what Debbie hopes to accomplish in her new role, I’ve attended an area leaders’ meeting where I listened to several dedicated and enthusiastic adult volunteers plotting out a myriad of activities for the upcoming year.

I also asked Debbie to respond to a few questions for this column in hopes of generating additional interest among potential adult volunteers and aspiring new members.

General overview of your experience with Girl Scouts: For more than three years I have worked for the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage Council, which geographically covers southern Idaho, parts of northern Nevada, and eastern Oregon.  I was the membership/marketing manager and then promoted to youth development director.

My job entailed developing curriculum and outcome measurements for programs throughout the council and ensuring outreach and collaborations with outside organizations. I also played a key role in the development of trainings for volunteers and staff of program changes and updates from GSUSA.

I have had many wonderful opportunities in Girl Scouts. For example, we started a Girl Scout program at the Idaho Women’s Correctional Facility located in Pocatello called Girl Scouts Beyond Bars. It’s a national program where girls are able to visit their mothers while they are incarcerated, working together as a mother/daughter team.

There were no programs for the mothers on how to work with their daughters once they’re released from prison, and this particular Girl Scout program was able to bring this opportunity  to the correctional facility. Girl Scouts also has a program for girls in detention centers which is being implemented in Idaho Falls.

I was also fortunate enough in developing a program where we took a group of high school Girl Scouts to Ecuador and completed many service projects, such as teaching English, gardening, painting, cleaning, providing school supplies, etc… at local schools, free clinics and within the Amazon rain forest.

I worked very diligently in recruiting and retaining older Girl Scouts through the Teen Advisory Committee, which is a venue for older girls in giving input to the council and board of directors. I was able to support the girls in emphasizing a girl-led committee, providing  them the empowerment and organization skills necessary for leadership development.

Another program is the Gold Award, which is the highest award a Girl Scout Senior and/or Girl Scout Ambassador can earn. To earn this prestigious award, girls  have to complete a minimum of 80 hours,  and their project must be sustainable within their community.

Touch on what makes you proud of your association with Girl Scouts: Many things do;  however,  you never truly realize the impact you make upon children until later. One recent accomplishment makes me feel like a proud mother. Just after moving to Sandpoint, I checked my e-mail and noticed in my inbox a very special name: Hosanna, a Girl Scout Ambassador who was a Gold Award Recipient.

 Hosanna’s Gold Award project has earned her the honor of being one of ten girls from across the nation as the 2009 National Young Women of Distinction. This is an amazing achievement for her and the state of Idaho. I am very happy for Hosanna. It feels good to be a part of an organization where there are caring adults who mentor girls and guide them in succeeding in the goals that they set for themselves.

Tell about a project/event that has given you  particular satisfaction as a scouting official: I led a team of volunteers (45 volunteers on five committees) for the event, Jubilation, which is a weekend troop encampment held every three years (triennia) in Filer, Idaho. This year more than 1,200 girls and adults attended.

It was an amazing and very moving event seeing all of the girls and adults there for Girl Scouting. I believe the greatest satisfaction is empowering the volunteers by supporting their efforts in helping girls. It is great going to a Girl Scout event and knowing that it is completely volunteer led and seeing the girls smiling, laughing and most of all being themselves in an all-girl and safe environment.

When did you graduate from Boise State, and what were your areas of concentration: I finally graduated from Boise State in ’05.  I had originally wanted to graduate in elementary education;  however,  during  my last year I made a dramatic change and switched my major to Multi Ethnic Studies, emphasis in Mexican Americans, Native Americans and Asian Americans under the discipline of sociology, followed with a minor in Canadian Studies.

My interests in Canada started in fourth grade while on a trip in Mexico where I met a Canadian girl, who was my age. We met over a large iguana on the beach and  paid $1 to have our picture taken with this beastly animal, big enough to eat both of  us  for dinner.

We instantly became friends and still remain in contact. She finds it funny that I earned a minor in Canadian studies all because I thought those Canadians were sure nice people! Starting at a young age, I have always had a genuine interest in learning about people, relationships and cultures.

Interests outside of your career: I enjoy reading, crocheting, hiking, fishing and spending time with my husband Will and our Border Collies, Brooke and Todd. I have also picked up the sport of  cycling. A friend and I have decided to take on a crazy challenge and train for the STP (Seattle to Portland) in July 2010. Check out our blog: www.thestpexperiment.blogspot.com

Current family set-up and why you moved to Sandpoint: My husband and I decided to make the move from Boise to Sandpoint when he was offered a position at Sandpoint High School as the journalism/Cedar Post adviser.

What are your areas of responsibilities in your new role? Where can people expect to see you? The areas I will be currently serving include Bonner, Boundary, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, and Okanogan counties.

Geographically, it is a large area, but with help from adult volunteers and girls involved within these communities, Girl Scouting is possible. People can expect to see me and or volunteers at open houses at local schools, community/civic groups and community organized events.

What do you consider the most valuable attribute young women can acquire from the program? Knowing oneself and believing in one’s individual  capabilities, having the ability to have empathize and relate to others, and caring enough to make their communities a better place. What an accomplishment to see a girl going into her community with courage, confidence and character in making the world a better place!

What are the increments girls attain as they work their way through scouting? There are many benefits to the Girl Scout program. While progressing from the grade level Daisy to Ambassador, they earn badges and awards that signify new and higher levels of knowledge and skills.

What opportunities/skills can dedicated scouts pick up while participating? Girl Scouts make new friends, learn about themselves and, most importantly,  they have fun. As a Girl Scout, they are encouraged to try new things and experiment with new ideas. Girl Scouting is a unique, girl-only place where they will learn:

• Courage by exploring new adventures; there are many opportunities for an older Girl Scout to go on travel destinations nationally and internationally. Also for an older Girl Scout, earning her Gold Award, will help qualify her for scholarships at many universities. She will also immediately move up one rank in any of the U.S. military branches.

• Confidence by discovering their abilities.

• Character by shaping their values

• Connections by forming friendships with other girls!

Girl Scouts pursue music, sports, theatre, science, travel, animals, art, camping, and many other activities. Girl Scouting inspires and empowers girls on their journey of discovery and leadership in a physically and emotionally safe, girls-only environment. While learning these skills, they will ultimately give back to their community, reach out to others and, by being a part of Girl Scouts, will make the world a better place!

What is your message to the communities about the scouting program about the general goals would you like to attain? Girl Scouting focuses on a Leadership Development Model that empowers girls to discover themselves, connect with others, and take action to make the world a better place. Girl Scouts is a leading expert on the growth and development of girls.

Together, with committed adult volunteers who partner with girls to guide and inspire their growth and achievement, the organization builds girls of courage, confidence and character who do make the world a better place. Girl Scouts is one of the few organizations in the United States that is girl-focused and girl-driven.

My goals for the communities that I will be representing will be to let people know that Girl Scouts is out there. I would also like to find more dedicated adult volunteers and families who want to make a difference in a girl’s life.

This means many things, by working directly with the girls or by supporting the adults who do. (Training adults, troop leaders, speaking to girls about their business or teaching a particular skill they may have, sponsoring a troop through using a facility or by donating money). There are many different capacities in which adults can get involved. Girl Scouts gives adults the flexibility to fit their lifestyle and schedules.

What are the “how-to’s” and requirements for girls who want to become scouts and for adults who would like to work with the program? Girls and adults who are interested in signing up will pay an annual membership fee of $12, which goes to our national organization, Girl Scouts of the USA.

Each troop will meet at different times; it ultimately depends on the volunteer and the troop as to who decides their schedule. Any girl who pays the annual membership fee is welcomed to participate in any Girl Scout activity available.

A program calendar listing the many opportunities for girls and adult trainings can be found online here. Troops and individual girls are encouraged to attend Camp Four Echoes located near Coeur d’Alene. For more information on camp,  please visit the website.

Adults interested in volunteering need to complete a volunteer application, provide three references, submit to a background check and complete some training.

GSEWNI sponsors a Fall Product Sale program where the girls will be selling nuts and candies and QSP magazines. For details on the types of nuts and candies please visit online here.

Girl Scout Cookies pre-order sales will begin on February 5. Scouts will take orders and, upon delivery, will collect the money. Direct sales where you can find scouts in front of local grocery stores will begin March 20, 2010.

From the GSUSA website: “Girl Scout Cookies are a familiar part of American culture. For more than 80 years, Girl Scouts, with the enthusiastic support of their families, have helped ensure the success of local Girl Scout Cookie activities.

“From its earliest beginnings to its current popularity, the sale of cookies has helped Girl Scouts have fun, develop valuable life skills and make the world a better place by helping to support Girl Scouting in their communities.”

Your office locations/approximate hours/contact information: GSEWNI serves the area from the south eastern Washington and middle of the Idaho Panhandle to the Canadian border, and from Montana to the east slopes of the Cascade Mountains. Headquartered in Spokane, GSEWNI also has service centers in Sandpoint (Second and Main), Coeur d’Alene and Lewiston, and in Richland (Tri-Cities) and Yakima, Wash.

• Spokane, Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, and Lewiston offices are open 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday.

• The Tri-Cities office is open 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

• Spokane store hours are 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Thursday; 9 am to 5 pm on Friday, and 10 am to 2 pm on Saturday.

• Tri-Cities store hours are 1 pm to 5 pm, Monday through Friday.

For more information, you can reach Debbie Love at 1-800-827-9478 ext 246, or 208-946-8736. You may also email her at dlove(at)gsewni.org.

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Author info

Marianne Love Marianne Love is a freelance writer and former English teacher who enjoys telling the stories of her community. She has authored several books, the latest of which is "Lessons With Love."

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Girl Scouts, Debbie Love

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