Girl Scouts inspire Thanksgiving thoughts

  • Seated left to right: Izabell Burke, Amy Maguy, Mellisa Maguy, Anastasia Croteau and Norah Blair. Standing left to right: Jennie Chace, Melissa Croteau, Sarah Littlewood, Tina Littlewood, Ciara Wetherby and Dyana Wetherby CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Left to right: Co-leader Amy Maguy, Mellisa Maguy, Anastasia Croteau, Co-leader Melissa Croteau and Leader Jennie Chace. ​​​​​​CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

For The Athol Daily News
Published: 12/28/2022 3:13:53 PM
Modified: 12/28/2022 3:10:57 PM

Happy Thanksgiving. Is this greeting a little out of season? Am I having a senior moment? Absolutely not. I was inspired in November while observing a group of young girls working on a Thanksgiving art project. They talked about what they were thankful for, and I could see how thoughts of gratitude created a wonderful, happy, positive atmosphere.

The girls belong to Girl Scout Troop 30908 in Phillipston, and each one was decorating a vase with glitter glue, a thick glistening glue that dries quickly. The girls had fun working with it. One girl covered her vase with tiny hearts, others created interesting designs, some made nature scenes. Then, on colorful Popsicle sticks, they wrote words that expressed something they were thankful for and arranged them in the vases. What a creative and meaningful centerpiece for Thanksgiving….and for all the days of the year!

It interested me that the girls did not write many words about material things. They mostly wrote about the things that really matter in life. The word most seen in the vases was “family.” Other common ones were ” friends, community, Girl Scouts, freedom, the outdoors, school, life, love, music, animals.” But, they also included “mac and cheese, chocolate, even glitter.” We older folks would have added “health.”

Jennie Chace is the troop leader. She’s been involved with Girl Scouts for 26 years, beginning when she was in Brownies; she has been the Phillipston leader since 2007 when her daughter started Brownies. Her long involvement was inspired by her Girl Scout leader Bonnie Benjamin of Athol where Jennie grew up. Jennie said, “Bonnie was an amazing leader–loving, giving, upbeat. I learned about the big world from her. She took us on a trip to New York City.” Scouting made a difference in Jennie’s life and now she’s dedicated to passing on the good experiences to others. She is thankful to former Scout leader Ann-Marie Geyster for the excellent mentoring that has been so helpful in her years of leadership.

Jennie meets regularly with Girl Scout leaders from Gardner, Hubbardston and Templeton to share ideas to enrich their meetings and to plan joint activities, such as holiday parties and caroling to the elders. They also hold competitions between the troops; one year the troops built paper boats and competed racing them on a water course.

I decided to talk to Jillian Geyster and Abby Bennett who were formerly in the Troop; both earned the Gold Medal Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts. Jillian is now a third grade teacher in Templeton and Abby is a student at the University of Massachusetts studying Environmental Science. Both women are thankful for Scouting and feel it had a big impact on their lives.

Jillian said, “When I was working on my Gold Medal Award, I had to give presentations in front of the Selectmen, the Girl Scout Council, and other groups; it helped me gain confidence in presenting. My counseling job at Girl Scout camp influenced my desire to become a teacher.”

Abby said, “Girl Scouts was a stepping stone for me, and I’m thankful for the foundation it gave me. I learned the importance of giving back, helping others, and helping the community. We did Earth Day cleanups and learned the value of a clean environment and not to be wasteful.”

Both women expressed deep thanks to their leader Jennie Chace. Jillian said, “She’s awesome. She gave so much of her time to help us.” Abby added, “She’s completely selfless. She’s like a second mother.”

Back to today’s Scouts. I asked them about the benefits they are getting from the Scouting program. They talked about skills that prepare them for life–“We learn about handling money and budgeting.” They talked about fun outings–“We go on trips, go camping, learn many skills, and have adventure. We learn about nature, recently we studied about trees.” Many told how service activities have made them feel pride and wanting to help in the community–“We work on community projects and wait on tables for church suppers.” They told about the good feeling that comes when helping others– “It feels good to help. We get a different perspective when we see needs. We understand how good it is to have people to back you up.” They talked about teamwork–“We make friends and work together.” Another added, “We learn leadership and independence.

The positive attitudes of thankfulness that prevailed throughout the conversations reminded me of the important words from a friend, “Thanksgiving shouldn’t be celebrated just one day a year, we should think about what we’re thankful for every day.” Gratitude affects attitude.

Occasional columnist Carole Gariepy of Phillipston has written seven books, all nonfiction. A recent one is a travel book, “Why Go There?” In her younger years, she was a teacher.

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