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Archive for Saturday, October 5, 1996

GIRL SCOUTS

October 5, 1996

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Jackie Holladay pulled on her hiking boots, her worn-out jeans and her old T-shirt. Without the bother of boys or the need for makeup, Holladay and Cadette Troop 693, part of the Kaw Valley Girl Scout Council, were going camping.

``When we go camping, we know the people in our troop and don't have to prove anything,'' Holladay said. ``We are the center of attention. We can be the best, and we don't have to compete against the boys.''

This also means that the girls must be responsible for their activities and deal with the consequences of not fulfilling those responsibilities, she said.

``You have to plan troop activities, and, if the plan falls through, guess who's mad at you -- all of your friends,'' she said.

The council is a women's organization with women role models that gives every girl the opportunity to be a leader among her peers, said Mary Beth Petr, service unit coordinator for northern Douglas County. The council covers 13 counties in northeast Kansas, with one part-time and 21 full-time staff members who run offices in Topeka, Lawrence and Manhattan and oversee 6,213 girls and 1,916 adult volunteers. In Douglas County, there are 1,464 scouts and 477 volunteers.

The United Way's support for the Girl Scouts, one of 30 agencies to receive funding, helps ensure that every girl who wants to participate in the program can, Girl Scout officials said. This year, the Girl Scouts Council is scheduled to receive $9,730 from the United Way. Its 1996 annual budget was $900,550. The council also receives financial support from United Way campaigns in other counties within the council.

Barb Smith, executive director of the United Way, said the Girl Scouts received United Way funding so all girls, through the Girl Scouts' scholarship program, could participate.

``Our sense about Girl Scouts is preventative in nature,'' she said. ``We're interested in making sure that children on a limited income have access to those memberships.''

Financial assistance is provided on a sliding-scale basis. Any scout can apply to the council for assistance for all costs, ranging from the $6 national fee to activity expenses to troop dues.

The council decides the scholarship amount an applicant gets per activity. Individual circumstances determine whether the council provides complete or partial assistance.

Donna Pearson, the council's special services manager, said that the flexibility of the program meant that each troop had different expenditures, depending on the activities it participated in and optional costs such as uniforms. However, uniforms are not required, she said, and troops tend to opt for council T-shirts or design their own. Each troop also sets its own dues for the year.

``I know a Brownie troop that pays 10 cents per meeting or another that pays $2 a month,'' Pearson said. ``I know one troop that just recycles cans.''

Petr said, ``Kids can't do a thing about the financial situation of their family. As they get older, they see the opportunity to earn money for things they want to do.''

For example, Holladay's troop is going to Chicago in June. They have researched activities, called to get prices, made airline reservations, figured out the expense and how to raise money, she said.

During the Volksmarch, a 10-kilometer walk to be held in Lawrence today, Holladay's troop will run a concession stand to earn money for its trip. If a scout does not have enough money to pay expenses not covered by troop earnings, the scout can apply for scholarship assistance.

Amy Ochs, former Kaw Valley Girl Scout, said Girl Scouts provided a feeling of success.

``When we went camping,'' she said, ``we could set up tents, start the fire, cook our own food and get a badge at a stage when you needed something to accomplish so that you felt good about yourself.''

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