Friday, October 18, 2002
Carlisle perfects recipe for Girl Scout program
With a plethora of after-school activities available to the town's children, many kid-based organizations have seen their enrollment shrink in recent years. Despite the competition, however, the Girl Scout program in Carlisle continues to grow in numbers and financial strength. Furthermore, these girls are giving back to the town in terms of community service.
This year over 150 girls have registered to participate in the Carlisle program. At the Brownie level, there are at least 30 girls in each of grades one, two, and three. That's more than half of the girls in each class. Concord has about a 25% participation level for the same grades. For the first year, Carlisle has a group of five tenth graders at the Cadette level.
"There definitely seems to be a boom," says Michelle Sobin, one of three coordinators of the Concord/Carlisle service unit, and a co-leader for two troops. "People are interested in this values-based organization. It's very supportive of girls' sense of self and well-being."
Last year, the girls sold 8,402 boxes of cookies at $4 a unit. The year before, the price was a dollar cheaper, but the group only sold 7,794. Other major fundraisers include magazine subscriptions and family partnership donations. A portion of these activities comes back to the girls' troop and service unit. As such, the girls do not pay for encampment, their annual overnight trip, nor for many activities throughout the year. After nominal registration fees and optional uniforms, the cost to a family stays low.
The girls volunteer for a range of community service projects. They participate annually in the Mosquito trash party, make cards for patients at the Veteran's Hospital in Bedford, and prepare holiday gift boxes for senior citizens. They roll coins to facilitate collection of money for UNICEF after Halloween. They organize the lost-and-found area at the end of the school year to the relief of many town parents.
Carlisle figures in service unit
Last year the Patriots Trail Council, the governing Girl Scout body in the greater Boston area, merged the Concord and Carlisle programs and called it the Concord/Carlisle Service Unit. The unit leaders in both towns meet once a month, alternating locations between the Carlisle Public School, and the Concord Scout house. The leadership team that conducts the meeting includes Sobin, Linda Kuramoto (also from Carlisle), and Jean Mickle from Concord.
"There's a lot of volunteer support to this team," acknowledged Kuramoto. The leaders total 84 at present, with half coming from Carlisle. About 30 leaders of the total attend the service unit meetings.
Linda Fabrizio, who had served as Carlisle town coordinator for five years, as well as on the service unit, agrees that volunteers are the cornerstone, but believes the program itself and the focus on girls is the key of its success. This hasn't changed from her own days as a Girl Scout.
"The girls learn leadership," said Fabrizio. "They learn how to help others through service projects. They learn to work together. Those are great values." Sobin, a former Girl Scout like Fabrizio, identifies one way the program has improved for the better, "Back then, the leader would tell you what to do. Now the girls, in partnership with the adults, decide what to do. That's a very dramatic shift."
With the focus on empowering girls, it's not surprising that the Girl Scout program in Carlisle is on the upswing. From the number of registrations that keep coming in, the girls appear to be telling their friends how much fun they are having. We all benefit from the results.
© 2002 The Carlisle Mosquito