YOUR FIRST thoughts when you hear “Girl Scouts” may be of Thin Mints and Tagalongs©, and who could blame you? Hold that thought because your favorite limited-time treat does much more than satisfy your craving; it enables girls to grow to their fullest potential while building skills and relationships and learning positive values and community involvement.
Locally, your cookie purchases go back into the Girl Scout service unit of Lincoln County. Within this unit is Girl Scout Troop 1856, led by Heather Vaughn and Kelli Grissom and locally referred to as the “Petersburg troop.” The troop comprises Unity and Riverside Christian Academy students and the Boonshill, Hot Rock, and Dellrose communities.
The Petersburg troop was formed in 2019 when the annual Girl Scout recruiting program didn’t have enough troops to support the interest of all who wanted to participate. Vaughn volunteered to assist with the new troop and has been actively involved since that time.
She has seen firsthand the change in the girls through the program.
“At every meeting, we lead the pledge and give each girl opportunities to be responsible for something. It may be nothing more than holding the flag, but I’ve seen those girls go from being so nervous holding the flag to standing up in front of a group of people and reading about a country we pick for world thinking day to walking up and asking someone to buy cookies. They gain self-confidence without even realizing it. My daughter was very nervous when she was younger and had to speak to people, and now I see her stand up in front of a crowd on stage, speaking loudly and clearly. And I know [scouting] has her feeling better about herself and more confident,” said Vaughn.
Community service projects are funded by sales programs twice a year. The fall sale consists of candy, nuts, and magazines; the other is the cookies early in the new year. A portion of the funds raised goes to community service projects chosen by the troop. Past projects have included adopting angels at Christmas, military care packages, Clothe Our Kids donations, Junior’s House, and the Petersburg blessing box.
Vaughn said, “One year, we put flags on the veterans’ graves at Wright’s Cemetery near McBurg.”
Girl Scouts impacts everyone involved, from the troop leader to the members, to the community.
“There is a lot of love that goes into what we do in Girl Scouts. Everyone involved is a volunteer, all the way up to the service unit. It can get a bit stressful sometimes, especially during cookie season, but we know, at the end of the day, that it’s helping to support our troops and helping them earn new opportunities. Girl Scouts in Lincoln County provides a wealth of knowledge for girls and is helping them grow into mature young adults with confidence and care for others,” she said. GN