Editor’s Note: This continues our Celebrate Community series on Santa Rosa County nonprofit organizations that improve our quality of life.
MILTON — Folks shouldn’t be too quick to make assumptions about the Girl Scouts.
“Most people think we’re just about cookies and crafts but there is more involved,” Girl Scout Troop 934 co-founder Teresa Collins said.
While her troop values the rewards of selling their famed cookies, Collins said her Girl Scouts participate in a variety of activities.
She and Jenifer Mitchell started the troop five years ago when the Girl Scouts of America turned 100.
They’re now selling cookies to raise money for a trip to Savannah, Ga., to see the home of Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, according to a Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle press release.
Oh, yes: Cookies arrive Feb. 11, Collins said.
“We still need $5,000. We’re trying to raise money so the families don’t have to,” she said.
Learning how to raise money is one skill the girls learn, Collins’12-year-old daughter, Gracie, said.
More than that, the girls learn how to multiply in their heads and run credit cards with a smartphone app, among other skills, according to Collins.
“Cookie sales take up one month of our time. They’ve got to be vocal, get out there, and be courteous to customers,” she said.
Developing entrepreneurial skills aside, “We like to do camping,” Collins said. “All the girls can start a fire (and) cook on a fire. (We hold) flag ceremonies (and) ‘bridging,’ when the girls go from one age group to the next,” she said. “The last was at the Navy Aviation Museum. We held a flag ceremony for it.”
In addition to learning outdoor techniques, Troop 934 tends to choose service projects according to Collins.
“We’ve done beach clean-ups,” she said. “We’re big into service projects, not that we push it …We meet at Avalon Baptist Church every four to five weeks and do a Wednesday-night dinner for them because they let us meet there for free.”
Collins said the troop met recently and discussed creating a list of service projects and fun projects. She said by the end the girls had only suggested service projects.
Santa Rosa County has multiple Girl Scout troops in areas such as Milton, Pace, Navarre and Gulf Breeze, all under the Pensacola Service Center.
The Panama City, Tallahassee and Pensacola Service Centers make up the Girl Scouts of the Florida Panhandle Council.
Girl Scout Service Unit Manager and Event Coordinator Lisa Fisk, based in Pensacola, holds themed camps for the Girl Scouts.
“(Fisk) hosted two ‘Star Wars’-themed camps over two separate weekends that hosted roughly 100 middle and high school girls,” Mitchell said.
The girls baked and made crafts during the event, Mitchell said. From Princess Leia cupcakes to swatting shower washing accessories as pretend thermal detonators with blow-up light sabers.
“There was also a costume party where the girls dressed as their favorite ‘Star Wars’ character,” Fisk said.
Some badges that Troop 934 Girl Scouts have earned include a CPR badge and a Crime Scene Investigation badge, Collins said.
“It doesn’t seem like work sometimes,” Gracie said about earning badges.
But doing so depends on meeting certain requirements. For the CPR badge, the girls had to make a first aid kit, take CPR training, interview a doctor, make a basic community first aid poster, and administer first aid in a training scenario.
Earning the CSI badge involved collecting fingerprints and deducing how badly someone was bleeding based on red paint dropped on paper, according to Collins.
Along the way, though the service and the fun, the Girl Scouts have helped her daughter become more open.
“When she first joined, she was so shy,” Collins said. “(Now), if you put her at a cookie booth, she don’t care who it is, she’ll talk to anybody.”
Advancement in entrepreneurial and social skills are just a couple of the organization’s benefits for its members.
Call the Pensacola Service Center, 434-1333, for more information on area troops.