Exploring self and the world

Taos' newly formed Girl Scout Troop 10684

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Being a Girl Scout gives girls a chance to be outside, learn new skills, form friendships and find values that can provide a foundation for life.

Girl Scout Troop 10684 was founded last year and is one of five troops in the Taos area. Its nine members are learning about the world, riding horseback and serving the community while they earn badges and participate in special activities known as journeys.

Girl Scout journeys

On a recent Sunday, the scouts had a chance to immerse themselves in a day-long event known as the aMuse journey. In a journey, girls have a chance to discover something about themselves, connect with others and take action to make the world a better place. This event explored roles and stereotypes, and focused on figuring out who you are as an individual rather than who society tells you to be.

The junior members who are in fourth and fifth grades had the opportunity to dress up in hats, scarves and sunglasses, exploring different roles they might play in the future. They also painted pictures of self-exploration. Cutting out pictures from magazines was one way they explored the images that girls see in the media. Participating in the eight-hour day is part of earning a special journey badge.

That same day, the younger Daisies (kindergarten through first-graders) and Brownies (grades two and three) explored taking care of themselves by coloring and building their own nests. They learned about taking care of animals by visiting Stray Hearts Animal Shelter and making cat toys for the cats who were there.

A banner made at the event listed traits that the girls value including being brave, optimistic and tough, along with being nice and kind.

Activities and Girl Scout Cookies 

The troop meets every other Tuesday evening at the Taos Valley Baptist Church. The opening of the meeting includes the pledge of allegiance, the Girl Scout promise and law, all recited by the members in a circle.

At a recent meeting, one of the favorite activities was getting ready for Girl Scout Cookie time, which began in February and runs through March 24. Wanda Lucero, who is both a grandmother of one of the scouts and a sponsor of the troop, is the volunteer cookie leader this year.

She organized a tasting of the cookies for sale so that the girls could experience the flavors of the various cookies and then describe them to prospective purchasers. The younger troop members worked on the Cookie Badge, practicing taking payments and making change for customers.

The troop will be around town with cookies for sale in the coming weeks along with delivering orders that were placed in advance. In addition to the usual selection of cookies, the Girl Scouts recently added a gluten-free cookie called Toffee-tastic.

As the younger troop members were working on cookie sales, the junior members began the steps necessary to earn the Jeweler Badge, led by parent Abbigale Lyman. The girls in the troop help determine which badges they will pursue. The scouts first drew a design and then began to pull together beads and other material to make their own creations.

Beginning and growing

The parents are adult members and active as leaders of the troop along with founder Elaine Taylor. When Taylor arrived in Taos last July, she didn’t find a troop that was an exact fit for her daughter, Madison, to join to continue the scouting journey she had begun when she lived in Arizona and Virginia. Taylor has brought much enthusiasm and knowledge to the building a new troop.

Carrie Gutierrez of the state-level organization Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails provides support to the troop. She says, “(Elaine) Taylor does a great job. This is the newest troop in Taos. They are actively preparing for World Thinking Day, an event coordinated with other area troops.” 

Gutierrez points out some of the posters that will be on display that evening, which show the countries the girls will be studying. This year, the girls from this troop will be researching England, Mexico and China. Taylor says, “We will celebrate Girl Scouts around the world. Each level from each troop will represent a country with a poster, a snack from that country and a token of friendship known as a SWAP, which stands for ‘Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere.’”

Andrea Vigil has two daughters in the troop: Emiliana and Alexis Cohn. Vigil says, “I was a Girl Scout growing up and really enjoyed it.” Her daughters were excited to have the chance to join.

The troop is growing and holds regular events to reach out to potential new members.

Notable Taos women

For Women’s Herstory month in March, the troop will be celebrating notable women in our own community. “We have become a part of an umbrella group called a service unit," Taylor says. "A service unit brings together troops in our geographical area to have special events with sister Girl Scouts that we might not otherwise get to know. Because March is Women's Herstory month, we've decided that each level (Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette) in each troop will work together to nominate and ultimately choose a notable woman living and working in our service unit area. Then those groups will interview her and create a poster that will be on display March 24. These women will be invited to attend.”

Favorite things

As for favorite activities, junior members Zeta Schilke and Madison Taylor mentioned horseback riding. The Halloween Trunk or Treat activity, in which the scouts helped hand out treats, was a favorite for Nadija Kostich and Kaelie Lyman-Bayne. All also agreed with Brandy Mckneely when she said, “My favorite part is hanging out with my friends.”

Outdoor activities and overnight campout

This April, the troop is planning its first overnight campout and another one will be held in August. At Camp Elliot Barker in Angel Fire, the girls will have the opportunity to work on earning badges, such as archery and horseback riding.

Last fall, the Boy Scouts decided to allow girls to join its ranks. Some feel that the Boy Scouts have more to offer girls in terms of outdoor activities. But as the leaders of Troop 10684 exclaim, “The Girl Scouts have always offered outdoor activities. The Boy Scouts have had a program called Explorers for girls. But, I think that the Girl Scout program offers the opportunity for sisterhood — something that is not offered in the media or at school. The scouts come together to explore friendships and the stories about powerful women. Girls are taught to be quiet. They are freer to speak out when there are only girls present.”

Dream of a Girl Scout house 

As the troop looks to the future, they dream about having a home of their own: a "Girl Scout House" that would be available for scouting activities. They see the house as a place where they could store supplies for badges and to host activities. Families could help out, too, by cutting the grass and sponsors could help with utilities to keep it affordable for the troop.

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