Sometimes things just work out right. There’s no real planning or plotting involved. Things just fall together happily.
Back in 2005, a group of girls and their moms got together at Holy Spirit Preparatory School and organized Girl Scout Troop 3980. They didn’t have a long-range plan, really. It simply seemed like something that would be fun and a way to handle a bunch of energetic 5-year-olds.
More than a dozen years later, that scout troop remains together. Five of its members, still friends but now scattered across various local high schools, recently won Gold Awards, meaning they’ve reached the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.
“A lot of people are like, ‘Why are you still in Girl Scouts?’” one of the members, 18-year-old Sarah Tyner, said recently. “There’s just not a reason.
There’s never been a lot of thought. It’s just something I do and I’ve always done. It just happened.”
“It’s just really fun to see all our friends,” chimed in fellow troop member Sarah Skinner, who’s 18 and is known as “Sarah S” to avoid confusion with her fellow scout “Sarah T.”
“We just kind of kept going,” added scout Emma Kate Sellers, who’s 17.
Because they kept going, good things have happened in and around Troop 3980’s Sandy Springs home. Those five Gold Awards required five projects and those projects created useful things for the community.
Natalie Smith organized a dance for intellectually disabled young adults. Jordan Daly taught a class for young girls on body image and self-esteem. Emma Kate put together an after-school program and curriculum for students of a Sandy Springs-based program for at-risk Latino preschoolers.
Sarah S, an athlete, organized a program for high school athletes and their parents on concussion awareness after both she and her brother suffered sports-related injuries. While babysitting, Sarah T saw how much time kids put in sitting in front of televisions or staring at cellphones, so she put together a program to convince parents to limit the amount of time their young children spend looking at screens and to provide alternatives.
Their projects took months of work to complete. Why go to all this trouble? “It looks good on college applications,” one of the members joked. But after a quick laugh – and there was a lot of laughing going on one recent Sunday afternoon at troop mom Julie Smith’s home in Sandy Springs as the five scouts told scout stories — they admitted there was a bit more to it. “It’s the reason for Girl Scouts,” Jordan said. “Why do it if you’re not going to do it fully?”
“It’s really an extension of what we say at meetings, our Girl Scout Law,” Sarah Tyner said. “With the Gold Award, you’re old enough to lead on your own and not rely on your troop, to organize things yourself.”
Still, being surrounded by a group of long-standing friends made a difference. With five of them going for gold at once, they could help each other when help was needed. They also could push one another to stay with it. There was more than a hint of competition among them, they said. Now that they’re done, they feel “a sense of accomplishment that we’ve seen this all the way through,” Natalie said.
Over a dozen years of scouting, they’ve been to camps, sung silly songs, cooked “lots of” s’mores and sold “lots and lots” of Girl Scout cookies with friends they’ve known since grammar school.
As they grew older and scattered to different schools, the troop helped hold them together. Scouts became the place they saw one another and kept up contact. It was their common ground. “The troop is why we’re still Girl Scouts,” Sarah T said. “I don’t think I’d be a Girl Scout if I wasn’t in this troop.”
Now it’s run its course. In the fall, Natalie and Sarah T plan to head to Auburn University and Sarah S intends to enroll at the U.S. Naval Academy. Emma Kate and Jordan still are deciding on college. The scouts hope the classes and events they created for their Gold Award service projects will continue without them, but for the most part, Troop 3980 will be done.
“It’s been a good run,” troop mom Smith said.