Girl Scouts reflect on 13-year journey with their troop


“I didn’t want to do it,” was my first thought. “It” being a Girl Scout leader. I thought it involved training and planning and lots of hours I just didn’t have at that time. And I was right. But somehow I made it work and became a leader for Oceanside Girl Scout Troop No. 2228. And two years later, Karin Nilsen joined me. Since September 2009 we have been the proud leaders of a great and rotating group of girls.

When you think of Girl Scouts, you probably picture cute, little kindergarteners selling cookies. Fast-forward 13 years and for seniors in high school, that’s no longer the reality. Each of our scouts has so many competing activities it was an accomplishment to stay committed all these years. Their investment of time working as a team to sell cookies, earn badges and fulfill requirements for their Bronze and Silver awards enriched them with skills and fun along the way. Three girls have also earned their Gold Awards, the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

Karin and I asked our Scouts to reflect on their years in Scouting. Here are some of their thoughts.

“My favorite memory of Girl Scouts was accomplishing my Silver Award,” Alison Abbey said. “As a Cadette, our troop chose to create surprise bags and donate them to South Nassau Communities Hospital. It felt so great to be able to deliver them personally to the hospital and know we made a difference.” Abbey said that in the Girl Scouts, she learned how to communicate better with others, became open to speaking with residents in her community and had the opportunity to help Scouts.

Jillian Kostal said her favorite Girl Scout memory was during a Sow What? Journey. “As a part of the journey, my troop went to various ethnic restaurants which were not represented in our own troop to learn about their cultures and taste their food,” she recalled. “The experience was delicious and fun. As a troop, we each brought in recipes from our own families and cultures and compiled them into a cookbook. The whole experience was enriching.”

She noted that by being a member of the troop, she learned how to be more responsible with her time and others’ time, more confident in herself and to be kind to others. She said Girls Scouts has also helped her hone her leadership skills as and become confident in public speaking. “I’ve learned how to pivot to handle myself in different situations,” she said. “Girls has prepared me for my future. I am independent, strong, caring and fair. She added that she is an Ambassador Scout and learned to grow and develop in many ways as she strived for her Gold Award.

Erika Nilsen said her favorite memory was also making surprise bags. “In Girl Scouts, I learned to be a leader, to be outgoing and kind,” she said. “Girl Scouts has helped me become the person I am today and showed me how to help others and be respectful to everyone. In addition, she said, as an Ambassador Scout, she learned to take on more leadership roles and to work with her community.”

ElizabethAlexia Papadoniou said her favorite memory was making friendships that will last a lifetime. “Girl Scouts has taught me how to be a better person and how to help others to the best of my ability,” she said. “I’ve gained confidence in talking to people and I’ve learned how to take care of my world. I truly would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for this amazing organization.”

Nicole Stoupas said she learned how to cooperate with her peers while scouting. “It has helped me in my everyday life, when I work on group projects or have class debates,” she said. “It has also taught me public speaking skills and given me the confidence to pursue my goals, two things that are very important in college or job interviews.” Stoupas also served as an Ambassador Scout, and said that she hoped all young Girl Scouts will stick with their troops for as long as she did, and will one day be able to reflect on the rewards it has given them like she has been able to.

Now that our troop has ended, Karin and I are hopeful the skills our girls learned and the time they put in will help them all in their future endeavors. They are well on their way and as young adults entering college, we hope they will continue to reflect and use their Girl Scout involvement to guide them towards success.