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Girl Scouts celebrates 100 years

Samantha Chick and Anne Yeilding of Brownie Troop 2091 pose with cookies in front of the Baldwin Park Publix.

Samantha Chick and Anne Yeilding of Brownie Troop 2091 pose with cookies in front of the Baldwin Park Publix.

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Brownie Troop 2091 kicked off the new year by creating calendars that featured each girl dressed to represent a month of the year. For the girls, it was a fun activity and a chance to “dress up” and have their picture taken. For troop leader Elizabeth Chick, it was symbolic of the importance of 2012.

Girl Scouts of the USA celebrates its 100th birthday in March. Founder Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low, of Savannah, Ga., assembled 18 local girls for the first meeting on March 12, 1912. That first troop has grown from 18 to more than 2.3 million girl members and 880,000 adult volunteer members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

“I think Juliette would be incredibly proud of today’s Girl Scouts,” said Chick, who has led her daughter’s troop for four years.

A girl can join a Daisy scout troop beginning in kindergarten. From there, she can continue to progress through Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes and Seniors, who are high school age.

The 13 third-grade girls in troop 2091 attend Audubon Park, Lakemont and Princeton elementary schools, and Blankner and Windy Ridge K-8 schools. They meet weekly at Chick’s home near Audubon Park.

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Baldwin Park Publix manager Jordan Klarfeld with troop leader Elizabeth Chick and her daughter, Samantha; and “cookie mom” Mary Yeilding, with her daughter, Anne.

Chick has several activities planned for 2012 to highlight the anniversary, including camping at the Mah-Kah-Wee Program Center, and a trip to the birthplace of the founder in October.

But, in February, the girls are focused on cookies!

Girl Scouts are probably best known for their cookies, especially the best-selling Thin Mints. Almost as old as the organization, the sale of cookies as a way to finance troop activities began as early as 1917.

Yeilding said her daughter’s troop has sold more than 1,000 boxes in the past. She is excited, she said, that this year the troop will have a cookie booth at the Baldwin Park Publix, where they will have the opportunity to sell even more.

Chick and her co-leader, Susie Johnson, were both Girl Scouts. They grew up in different parts of the state but met in college.

Chick was a Girl Scout in Gainesville, and was one of the first in Alachua County to earn the Gold Award, an achievement equivalent to the Boy Scout Eagle Scout Award.

Johnson, who is from South Florida, recently relocated to College Park and is librarian at Valencia College’s west campus. Although she has no children of her own, she became Chick’s co-leader last year.

“I wanted to volunteer for something,” Johnson said.

It was their shared experience in scouting that bonded them together, Chick said. “Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout!

“I always tell my girls they will forever be sisters in scouting.”

“The thing I love about scouting is that it is diverse,” Chick said. “It’s not just about learning to play soccer. It’s not just taking a quilting class … it’s all of that. It’s the whole girl.

“Diversity is what makes our troop so special. They aren’t just campers, cookie sellers, athletes, musicians, artists or academics. They are Girl Scouts! So, if Juliette was participating in our friendship circle at meeting’s end, I believe she would scan each unique and beautiful face and give a great big Brownie smile!”

Look for Brownie Troop 2091 in front of the Baldwin Park Publix from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 25. To learn more about Girl Scout of Citrus anniversary activities, visit www.citrus-gs.org>