Once a Girl Scout, Always a Girl Scout

Intergenerational partnerships help local scouts earn badges

Kelly A. Shue
February 12, 2020

In 1912, envisioning an organization that would prepare girls to meet their world with courage, confidence, and character, Juliette Gordon Low organized the first Girl Scout troop. Now, more than 100 years later, 1.7 million young girls and 750,000 adult volunteers are members of this popular group worldwide.

At Greenspring, an Erickson Senior Living community in Springfield, Virgina., both current and former Girl Scouts meet monthly as part of a popular, intergenerational club known as Greenspring's Girl Scout Connection.

"I thought it would be wonderful to build connections between the young girls and community members at Greenspring," says Susan Weaver, who moved to the community in December 2018.

A volunteer member of the Nation's Capital Area Council, Susan was eager to meet new friends and continue a lifelong association with the popular service group.

"Greenspring encourages residents to form social groups and does a wonderful job supporting these groups," says Susan. "I knew there must be many ex-Girl Scouts at Greenspring, and I wanted to find some."

Since the group's inception last year, Girl Scouts belonging to 40 troops, including Daisy (Kindergarten and 1st grade), Brownies (2nd and 3rd grades), Juniors (4th–5th grades), Cadettes (6–8th grades), Seniors (9th–10th grades), and Ambassadors (11th–12th grades), are working with the Greenspring volunteers.

Spreading the word

To help get her new Girl Scout Connections group up and running, Susan attended Greenspring's Activities Fair last spring in the hopes of recruiting neighbors to support her efforts. 

One of those recruits, Mary Schaller, both a former Girl Scout and adult volunteer, jumped at the opportunity.

"When I was in elementary school at St. Mary's Academy in Alexandria, Va., I was a member of troop No. 57, for two years," says Mary. "How do I know exactly what my troop number was? I still have my sash with my nine hard-earned badges on it. Now, as a former Girl Scout and leader, scouting mother and grandmother, as well as the proud mother of an Eagle Scout, I jumped at the chance to join the Girl Scout Connection at Greenspring."

With the help of a growing list of volunteers, the group went to work preparing for its first get-together with the Girl Scouts.

"We planned our first event for last September," says Susan. "Members of the Brownie troops worked with our Greenspring volunteers to complete the Making Friends badge. Residents and their Brownie partners talked about how to be a good friend, how to resolve differences between friends, and how to welcome a new friend and introduce her. We ended the day with lots of hugs."  

Taking to the water

Building on the success of the first meeting, Mary, as the Commodore of Greenspring's yacht club, welcomed Cadette troops to Greenspring to earn their Good Sportsmanship badge. Each Girl Scout was paired with a yacht club member to race radio-controlled sailboats on the Greenspring pond.  

"First, the girls watched our yacht club conduct a real race as part of their badge work," says Mary. "The girls then enjoyed the opportunity to race their own boats with the Greenspring boat owners acting as guides and teachers. This was a real case of intergenerational, hands-on experience. Everyone, both young and old, had a great time."

The following month, the Greenspring Girl Scout Connection worked with Junior troops on the Social Butterfly badge. To earn the badge, the girls leaned how to conduct a proper handshake, write a proper thank-you note, and set the table for a formal dinner. The day ended with a festive tea party.

"During the class, several Greenspring residents stopped in to watch our lesson and share stories about their experiences learning good manners as young children," says Mary. "Again, it was a beautiful intergenerational exchange."

Looking forward

To close out the Greenspring Girl Scout Connection's first year, 50 Girl Scouts and family members were invited to the community to sing holiday carols.

"It was a fun day for everyone," says Susan. 

Plans are currently underway to host a badge-earning event, such as the Junior Naturalist and the Cadette Screenwriter badges, each month throughout the school year.  

"I absolutely love working with girls," says Mary. "They are so much fun, and the activities together make me feel young again. I believe the Girl Scout organization is excellent."

Both Mary and Susan encourage their neighbors, regardless of past experience, to join the fun in 2020.

"Any and all community members, regardless of whether or not they were a scout, are welcome to join the fun," says Susan. "Our club, which was meant to bring Girl Scouts to Greenspring as volunteers, has, instead, shown how much both groups have to contribute to each other."

To learn more about the vibrant activities and senior living lifestyle at Greenspring Senior Living, request more information today.