NORTH BEND — “Happy birthday, dear Girl Scouts. Happy birthday to you,” sang Girl Scouts present and past who gathered to celebrate 100 years of the scouting group at Pony Village Mall on Sunday.
More than 300 girls in Coos, Curry and part of Douglas counties take part in the program that teaches girls the value of leadership, respect, responsibility, courage and friendship, said Tricia Stuart, membership manager for the South Coast.
In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts of the USA. Today, more than 19,000 girls in Oregon and Southwestern Washington are part of the leadership-driven program. Girls learn camping skills, life skills and less tangible skills, such as courage, through troop, camp and discovery events. They also perform community service through activities such as singing Christmas carols at area nursing homes and organizing the Tree of Joy to provide toys to low-income children for the holidays.
Judge Paula Bechtold, Oregon Circuit Court Judge, credited Girl Scouts with giving her the courage to become a lawyer and then run to be a judge at a time when the field was predominantly male.
“I was a Girl Scout,” she said, adding nothing could stand in the way of her goals.
Scouts broadened Suzee Wirt’s horizons. The lifetime Girl Scout member went to London as part of the program, she said.
“I haven’t come across another opportunity like that,” she said.
Now a nail technician, Wirt said she wants to lead her own troop and instill in those girls the same values of preparedness and helping their community that her leaders taught her.
“I loved looking up to the older girls and seeing all the awesome things they accomplished,” she said.
The program isn’t just for girls, Stuart said. Any women who want to share skills or help with events are encouraged to call 541-756-4626 or visit www.girlscoutsosw.org.
Reporter Alice Campbell can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or at email@example.com.