Kathy Riley's Girl Scout Troop 9010 invited former scouts and leaders to share experiences in celebration of Girl Scout Week

Girl Scouts in Troop 9010 celebrated Girl Scout Week with former scouts and leaders, sharing memories and little handmade crafts known as SWAPS (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) on Tuesday, March 12 at A.D. Stowell Elementary School.

Troop Leader Kathy Riley said the Girl Scouts of the USA celebrates its 107th birthday this year, and she wanted to arrange a unique celebration for her scouts and their guests. The girls welcomed Connie Howard, Carol Hussong, Penny Smashey and Sandy Conn, who each took turns sharing experiences and how being a Girl Scout impacted their lives.

After their discussion, everyone exchanged SWAPs, including a tiny flashlight fashioned from a golf tee, a pet cloud made from a cotton puff, a small toilet brush made from a plastic straw and a pipe cleaner, a vial filled with “Scout Spirit” in green glitter and a shooting star made with pipe cleaners and a yellow foam star.

Howard spoke of the various skills she learned as a Girl Scout, including knot tying, babysitting and camping skills. She fondly recalled making s'mores around the campfire and how everyone poured their favorite soup into a large pot. Her leader added ground beef as it slowly cooked, and she remembered how delicious the aroma smelled to all of the scouts.

Riley told her how her scouts clean the dishes and laundry and cook various dishes. The girls have been baking, and they made homemade cookies topped with green icing for their guests. Howard said she sang songs at camp like “Kumbaya.” “Make New Friends” is also a long-standing Girl Scout musical tradition, too.

“Things have not really changed much, and yet they have changed,” Howard said.

She said she enjoyed the chance to share the far-reaching effects of being a Girl Scout with the girls.

“It was so important to say to them that what we learned in scouting can be used in the years after we learned it,” she said. “But the best part of it is that we can connect with people and learn new things at our own pace and not feel the pressure of it all.”

Conn held up her flag from Troop 14, portraying a tent and the slogan “Bridge to Juniors” at the top. She enjoyed talking with the girls about traditional camping activities and some new activities. Riley said the girls made a new riff on the popular s’mores treat, filling graham cracker cones with chocolate chips and marshmallows before wrapping them in foil to cook over the fire.

“This has been fun,” Conn said.

Hussong passed around her Junior Handbook and held up her green Girl Scouts sash, describing several of the badges and talking about how some have changed while others remain the same — stressing that being a Girl Scout has always encouraged new skills, adventures and knowledge.

“It's a great program, and I recommend scouting to anybody who can participate,” she said.

Smashey shared her experience as an assistant leader with Janie Freeman with the Girl Scouts of Troop 25 at the former A.D. Stowell Elementary School, which stands nearby on Fulton Avenue. She remembered several activities the girls enjoyed, including horseback riding, camping, burying a time capsule near the former school building and participating in Christmas Around the World, which immersed the scouts in the customs, dishes and ways that people celebrate Christmas around the world. Riley said she thought that would be a fun activity for members of her Troop, too. Smashey said the relationships formed in Girl Scouts last a lifetime.

“It bonds a friendship with all of them,” she said. “My daughter still talks to some of them who were in Girl Scouts with her, and they remain friends. It's a lifetime friend.”

Riley said the girls would get a chance to share their experiences as a Girl Scout when they visit children at First Christian Church on Thursday. And the girls have plenty of colorful bracelets to hand out.

“Girl Scouts always share,” she said.



trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com