As part of earning their Bronze Award, Girl Scout Troop 40069 from Snohomish County completed a service project at the Girl Scout house in Port Townsend, restocking, reorganizing and refreshing the kitchen for safety and functionality. (Jennifer Bardsley)

As part of earning their Bronze Award, Girl Scout Troop 40069 from Snohomish County completed a service project at the Girl Scout house in Port Townsend, restocking, reorganizing and refreshing the kitchen for safety and functionality. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Generation after generation of Girl Scouts make a difference

Leadership, service, friendship and merriment are some of the many reasons that it’s wonderful to be a Girl Scout.

It was Saturday night and I was driving around in circles looking for a place to park in preparation for a fun girls’ night out. Port Townsend was alive with traffic, even though it was the dead of winter. “We should have walked,” I said, growing desperate. “I’m horrible at parallel parking.”

“It’ll be fine, Jenny,” called a voice from the back seat.

“Yeah, Jennifer,” someone said, with the emphasis on the “fer.” “You can do it.” Everyone erupted into giggles.

This might be a good time to mention that I was with my Girl Scout troop, and my 10-year-old Juniors loved to say my name as often as possible, but not nearly as much as they loved to say my co-leader’s name: Karen. In case you’ve been living underneath a rock, Generation Z calls Generation X “the Karen Generation,” and Karen memes are everywhere.

Karen and I parked our cars and our troop hit the town, enjoying well deserved treats at Elevated Ice Cream Company. The girls gave their orders one by one, being careful to stick to their budget, and we all crammed into two booths. It was a delicious ending to six months of planning and hard work. The reason we were in Port Townsend was to complete a major service project that would be the last step toward earning their Bronze Award.

The Girl Scouts of Western Washington own a house on Tyler Street that dates back to 1940. It’s humble, but in a great location. Port Townsend troops meet there on a regular basis, and Girl Scouts from all over the country can rent it out for $40 a night. Our troop did just that last June when we visited Port Townsend for the first time. We hiked along the beach, explored tide pools and visited Fort Worden State Park.

We loved our time at the Port Townsend house but also wanted to update the home. The girls noticed that the small kitchen felt cramped with old dishes that didn’t match or stack well in the cupboards. The girls voted to make refurbishing the Port Townsend kitchen their Bronze Award project, and received approval from the Girl Scouts of Western Washington to make it happen.

There, at the ice cream shop, I dug my spoon into a scoop and told the girls how proud I was of their efforts. “You saw a problem and fixed it,” I told them.

“You created a budget and focused on needs, not wants,” added Karen.

“You spent all day washing dishes, and driving to the Goodwill and the transfer station.” I shuddered remembering how long it had taken to sort the recycling.

“You left a place better than you found it,” said Karen. “That’s the Girl Scout way. You’re on the path to earning your Gold Award some day.”

“But first we’re eating ice cream,” said one of the girls.

“Yeah, Karen,” said another. “How’s your ice cream, Karen?” They all giggled, and Karen and I couldn’t help but laugh too.

Leadership, service, friendship and merriment — these are some of the many reasons that it’s wonderful to be a Girl Scout. Plus my co-leader Karen. She’s amazing.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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