For 12 years, they’ve been friends and sisters in Scouting.
They’ve weeded gardens, sold tickets, put together hundreds of paper kites for little kids, gotten gooey and messy constructing and frosting gingerbread houses, and supported each other as they earned their Silver Awards – and several Gold Awards.
Now the members of Girl Scout Troop 812 are just about grown up. And their troop experiences, but not their ties to each, are ending this year.
“All but one of them is graduating,” explained Scout Leader Paula Jones, “and it takes five to have a troop.” She’s planned all along to retire as a leader when daughters Devin and Sarah graduated from Northside High School and Virginia Tech, respectively.
The fourteen members of Scout Troop were honored Feb. 21 for their thousands of hours of volunteer work for the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce over those years.
They didn’t know they were getting the Judy Griesenbrock Award. Instead, they thought they were being invited to attend as a thank you for their efforts, and because it was the last year of the troop, Paula Jones explained.
She and Chamber Executive Director Debbie Kavitz cooked up the plan over a month ago. And none of the girls suspected, Jones said, until the very moment their troop’s name was announced during the chamber’s 80th Annual Dinner at The Hotel Roanoke.
Troop members took a few minutes away from the dance floor and the music of Party on the Moon band to pose for a photograph with their award. Emilie King held the crystal trophy, surrounded by Samantha Nipper, Katryn Lawson, Harmony Sutphin, Devin Jones, Sarah Jones, Irene Jenkins, Logan Fry, Abigail Philips, Hannah Markham, Lesley Johnson and Summer Richardson. The only members not able to attend were Clancy Fry and Dalila Mujevic.
Troop leaders Paula Jones and Dawn Jenkins were there, along with former leader Melody Sutphin.
“It was so nice to see them all together again,” said Jones, who recalled how almost all of the troop started out as Brownies when they were in first grade at Glen Cove Elementary School.
“One of the girls told me the chamber dinner and party was by far the best time they had had in a long, long time. Others said that it was better than any homecoming or prom they had been to…Best of all, though, it was fun watching them reconnect. I don’t think they all realized how much they missed each other until they were back together. There were more than a few tears shed and lots of hugs shared,” Jones said.
They came from different backgrounds, and are going various directions now. As one put it, “If it wasn’t for Girl Scouts, we wouldn’t be friends.”