About 30 girls from across St. John tried their hands at activities ranging from cake decorating and water coloring to digital photography, jewelry making and jump roping — and even got juggling tips from Senator at Large Craig Barshinger — at the Girls Scouts Council of the Virgin Islands’ fun day on Saturday afternoon, September 30, at the Bellevue Vill-age community center.
“The day was fantastic,” said Lonnie Willis, a board member of the local Girls Scouts council. “There were so many things for the kids to do, they were just going from thing to thing and having a great time. It was great.”
The numerous volunteers who came out for the day held the girls’ interests and ensured the success of the event, Willis added.
Long Local History
Girls Scouts have a long history in the Virgin Islands, dating back to the 1930s when the first troop was established on St. Thomas, explained Jacqueline Dennis, president of the Girl Scouts Council of the Virgin Islands.
“The group has been here in the territory for about 80 years and it’s still important,” she said. “You give girls the sense they can do anything they set their minds to. It’s our responsibility to give girls life skills and the opportunity to make life-long friends.”
Unfortunately, these fun days are the only opportunity for St. John girls to take part in Girl Scouts activities because there are no troops on the island — largely due to the lack of troop leaders.
“I would love to see all the girls in troops but we don’t have any leaders,” said Willis. “It is a big commitment and I know that residents here are very busy people. We do urge people to come forward to become leaders because the girls here would love it.”
Being a troop leader is a lot of work, and the right person would do it for the love of the girls, Willis explained.
Troop Leaders Needed
“This is a weekly commitment,” she said. “Leaders need to be trained and prepared. They must do this because they really love the girls and want to do it for them.”
Schools and businesses can help encourage the establishment of Girls Scouts on St. John, Willis said.
“I would love to see schools, businesses and individuals get involved,” she said. “While the major thing is the leaders, all you need are sponsors.”
The Girls Scouts gives girls unique opportunities, Willis added.
“I was a Girl Scout when I was young and it was invaluable to me,” she said. “There were so many things that I learned that I might not have been exposed to if not for the Girl Scouts.”
Fellow Girl Scouts Council of the Virgin Islands board member Julien Harley agreed.
Scouts Give Structure
“I think it’s good for girls because it gives them structure in their lives,” he said. “If you start them from young with some kind of foundation, you usually have something to pull back on as you grow older. Scouting gives you fun things to do, but it broadens your mind and gives you a chance to be with your peers.”
Even if troop leaders don’t come forward, Willis is dedicated to exposing St. John girls to the Girls Scouts experience.
“I hope this is the first of many fun days,” she said. “I would love to see all the girls in troops, but we need to do something with the girls whether we have troops or not. We don’t want the girls here to be deprived of the Girl Scouts experience.”
“We’ll keep giving the girls fun things to do and hope people come forward to be troop leaders,” Willis continued.