Making it happen in Scouting

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 20, 2003

An extremely important factor in Girl Scouting is the volunteer services received from adults that serve as examples of leadership to the young women.

Across the nation, there are more than 942,000 adult members, Girl Scouting. Chief among this group, the volunteers are the backbone of Girl Scouting. Since 1912, volunteers and staff working together have served more than 50 million girls in the United States. They make up a prestigious group that includes scores of today’s most successful women.

More than 5,500 adult volunteers make Girl Scouting happen in the Colonial Coast. Colonial Coast Girl Scouting is funded by: Five United Ways; Combined Federal Campaign, Combined Virginia Campaign, North Carolina State Employee Combined Campaign; Girl Scout product sales of cookies, calendars and nuts, annual giving, grants and other gifts.


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Girl Scout leaders are the threads that hold girls together. Girl Scouting provides leadership and vision in assessing, developing and producing quality educational programs emphasizing pluralism and skill attainment.

Dorothy Cogswell, service unit coordinator for Colonial Coast Scouting, said the organization is always in need of volunteer adults who would who bring their talents, energy and dedication to the troops across the council.

Most volunteers are mothers of Girl Scouts, however, Cogswell pointed out that it is not mandatory to be the mother of a Scout to serve as a volunteer in the organization.

Take Rebecca Hill, for instance. This enthusiastic and dynamic young woman is a successful, career-oriented individual; further proof that Girl Scouting &uot;works&uot; when it comes to producing such people. Director of Advertising for the News-Herald, Hill is dedicated to giving back some of the invaluable life skills she learned in Scouting programs.

&uot;Girl Scouting is just a wonderful place to build confidence and skills,&uot; she said. &uot;Giving girls opportunities that they wouldn’t normally have is what Scouting is all about. I think the experience can expose girls to a vast array of activities; things like building a fire or learning computers, horseback ride and crafts. Through that type of exposure, you develop skills that you can carry with you throughout life.&uot;

Like many Scouts, Hill said she especially enjoyed the camaraderie of the experiences, and with good leaders she learned a variety of skills.

&uot;It was never the same thing, but always some different type of activity and we never stopped developing new skills,&uot; Hill added. &uot;Now, I feel it’s time for me to give back to Scouting. I’ve been involved with other organizations but Scouting speaks to me because as a young woman trying to succeed in a competitive environment, Scouting prepared me.&uot;

While she praised the Scouting program, Hill also noted that it takes support from others to lead a young woman toward success.

&uot;My parents participated in Scouting and my leaders participated,&uot; said Hill. &uot;It was a group effort, because no one thing is going to make a person whole or make them succeed in life. Scouting gives you so much opportunity. If you want the experience, it’s there for the taking and I would advise any girl to get involved. I would also advise any adult, parent or not, get involved with Girl Scouting.&uot;

Hill added that while there are so many social and political organizations to chose to volunteer with, Scouting is good for the community as a whole.

&uot;It’s just good for the soul,&uot; she added. &uot;I think that for the girls; I think I’m helping shape the person they’re going to become. My troop is so cool. I have a diverse group of 12 girls that come from all socio-economic strata and it’s just great working with them. I also have the greatest assistant volunteers including Debbie Strauser, Tereas England. Both of them are wonderful assistants.&uot;

Volunteering just came naturally to Hill, whose parents were volunteers when she was a Girl Scout. She saw their involvement and remembers their services in landscaping the grounds of the elementary school she attended.

&uot;They also silk-screened a shirt for every single kid in the entire school with our school logo,&uot; said Hill. &uot;Every year they committed themselves to some big project because they also worked and couldn’t be there at every meeting. They more than made up for it with their involvement, and it served as a wonderful example for me.&uot;

Cogswell added that any adult who would like to volunteer should contact the Colonial Coast Council Girl Scouts.

&uot;Your help is needed to provide these girls with a variety of program activities,&uot; said Cogswell. &uot;If you could share at least one of your interests or skills, this year would be much more meaningful for the girls as well as yourself. Leaders need the help and support of parents to provide challenging and creative programs the girls will enjoy.&uot; Cogswell was appointed service unit coordinator in 1993, and she has been instrumental in the expansion of the Suffolk troops. &uot;Suffolk Service Unit 730 has been growing and we have had great success with all our cookie sales, the calendar and nut sales, and many other activities,&uot; said Cogswell. &uot;We truly do need adult volunteers and we encourage anyone who can to serve.&uot;

Cogswell has received numerous awards for her services to Unit 730 including the &uot;St. Elizabeth Ann Seton&uot; medal from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. She has also received the highest award given to an adult; the &uot;St. Anne Award&uot; for extraordinary service to the spiritual development of youth. She was also presented with the &uot;National Youth Ministry Award&uot; for Girl Scouting, and she was recently presented with a special gift, a painting that she treasures because holding the painting one way and it displays the word &uot;peace.&uot; Tilt it a little and the word &uot;joy&uot; becomes visible.