Cookie sales lead to a sweet reunion

Losing your best friend is the biggest bummer in the world for pre-teens. Bryanna Baker, 10, and Heather Felps, 11, were torn apart by war, but found a sweet way to reunite.

It was hard work, but the result was fun in the sun at a horse camp. The girls sold more than 1,800 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to make their dream come true.

Each girl has a parent in the Navy. Bryanna and Heather met in Iceland when they were about 5 years old. Heith Felps, Heather’s father, and Jennifer Brennan, Bryanna’s mother, were stationed there. The children spent a couple of years together in a Daisy troop and became good friends before Navy transfers forced them apart.

About four years ago, they ran into each other in a Sunday school in Oak Harbor, where both parents had been reassigned. They’ve been bosom buddies ever since, but Bryanna’s mother was recently sent to Iraq, so Bryanna went to live with her father in Illinois.

The girls hatched a plan to get to Camp River Ranch in Carnation. They earned their week there by selling cookies, and spent seven delightful days together in July. I visited early in the week when their clothes were still clean.

Ah, the joy of getting back to Girl Scout camp. There is nothing like it. Bryanna was the more patient, often waiting for Heather to answer questions first. We chatted between rides on their horses, Kane and Truffle, and a craft class in the beautiful wooded setting.

The pair made up a cookie song that they gleefully sang to me.

Both girls said they enjoy Girl Scouts.

“All the extra stuff you get to do is good,” Heather said. “If we hadn’t both joined Scouts, we wouldn’t have known each other.”

Bryanna said the best part of scouting is having fun.

But it wasn’t great fun selling more than 900 boxes of cookies each. Their parents chipped in by selling at their workplaces and ferrying the girls from storefront to storefront. Both girls gave up all extracurricular activities at school to devote their time to cookie sales.

Neither girl wants to make sales a career. Heather would like to take her singing voice to the stage, or become an actress or interior designer. Bryanna wants to be a singer. They might go to college together. They want to share a condominium someday, and they already plan to be in each other’s weddings.

Getting along is not a problem. They know how to overcome typical arguments that friends endure.

“Whenever we fight, she’s not always really, really mad,” Bryanna said. “We make up in two seconds. We make up at the same time.”

Heather said Bryanna spills her guts first, then says, “Are we done now?”

It annoys Bryanna, however, that whenever she likes something, Heather will begin liking the same thing. “Like if I like the color red,” Bryanna said, “then she likes the color red.”

Heather admitted that once, when Bryanna got new shoes, she wanted the same pair like mad.

Heather said it’s nice to have a best friend she can relate to. She said even their mothers, Tammy Felps, her troop leader, and Jennifer Brennan, a radiology technician in Iraq, are best friends.

I had fun visiting with the girls around a fire pit. When I was at Girl Scout camp, we awoke one morning and found a pair of boys underwear on our tent pole. As 11-year-olds, my troop thought the find was gross, spooky and the best part of that week.

More youngsters should have the opportunity to get away to camp. It’s a great place to make new friends or reunite with your best buddy.

Columnist Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451 or oharran@heraldnet.com.

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