Scouting, including cookie drive, continues on despite pandemic

Local News

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — We can see light at the end of the COVID pandemic tunnel, but the experts say we’re still months away from getting back to normal activities.

Restrictions imposed on social gathering continue to challenge groups like the Boy and Girl Scouts.

Before Christmas WAVY introduced you to two local girls who’ve persevered through it all to become the first to earn the Boy Scouts’ highest rank of Eagle.

Siam Stolz, of Tabb High School, and Maura Helmerson, who attended Grafton High, (both in York County) completed all the requirements in the two years since Boy Scouts began accepting girls.

Both Siam and Maura said they joined the boys because of the more challenging activities.

But, wait a minute. Local Girl Scouts say they’re “physical” too!

“I really do like the Boy Scouts, they’ve got some really great activities,” says “Carolyn Engler, leader of Girl Scout Troops 759 and 382 in Chesapeake. “One thing I’ve learned as a young scout myself is we do the same things [Boy Scouts] do too.”

Engler runs two girl scout troops in the Chesapeake area, one for second graders, the other for high schoolers.

“I’ve gone hiking, I’ve gone canoeing,” says 15-year-old Hickory High School junior Lauren Simms, a member of Troop 759.

“Ax throwing’s up there too, there, too, [and] so is archery,” among the more popular events says Engler.

Taylor Reynolds, who’s 16 and a Grassfield High 10th grader, seems to like the “softer skills.” While forced to spend more time at home

During the pandemic, Taylor has knitted a blanket for a child she mentors and earned her textile badge in the process. “I took on an initiative to work on badges and stuff to help my community by myself.”

“The pandemic has offered some very unique experiences,” says Engler when describing how she and fellow troop leaders have found ways to keep the girls connected with virtual and in-person activities.

“We all stay masked up. We meet out in the different community parks for things and then we’ll try and do Zoom meetings. And, as we do this, we still try to work towards different goals and badges.”

“Honestly, I like to sell cookies!” And 14-year-old Maureen Keller does that very well.

“Last year I sold 4,691 boxes.My goal this year is 5,000,” says Keller. How is she going to do that, and, stay safe and socially distant?

“Well, it’s definitely going to be more challenging with the pandemic, but, I keep a spread of all my customers.” And those past Keller customers can probably expect to be contacted real soon. This year’s Girl Scout cookie campaign kicks off January 9.

Other members of Troop 759 are apparently ready to again concede the cookie-selling crown to Keller.

“I’m not really as outgoing,” says Simms. But, “Girl Scouts and outdoor activities helped me to come out of my shell and make friends that last for a lifetime.”

And, no need or desire to join the boys.

“It just comes down to, if you’re going to find a group (or) organization, make it something that you want to be with. Like the people that you’re with and you enjoy working with them,” says Engler.

To learn more about Girls Scouts here in Hampton Roads, contact the Girls Scouts of the Colonial Coast.

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