100 years of fun, friendship

Look past the cookie box and you'll see that Girl Scouts offer more than a sweet treat. For 100 years, the organization has been embracing girl power and connecting scouts to the community.

Members of Girl Scout Troop 4492, left to right, Hope Certa-Werner, Natalie Knaack, Alexa Dembroski and Bailey Revering, count out change while selling Girl Scout cookies at the Yellowjacket Union at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Wednesday. Scouts throughout the nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouting during Girl Scout Week, which kicks off Sunday. Local events include an open house in Duluth. (Maria Lockwood)

Look past the cookie box and you'll see that Girl Scouts offer more than a sweet treat. For 100 years, the organization has been embracing girl power and connecting scouts to the community.

"We're building them to be leaders," said Jessica Schiff, outdoor program specialist for the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines and director of Camp Roundelay. Scouts get to try new things in a safe and nurturing environment, she said. As they discover, connect and take action, they learn to lead.

"There are just so many benefits to being part of a premiere organization for girls to develop courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place," Schiff said.

Members of Troop 4492, based at Cathedral School, have learned things they never expected. They can now play Chinese jump rope and realize that you don't have to wait for a special occasion to give a gift.

A camping trip to Janette Pollay Outdoor Program Center in Duluth gave the girls, ages 8-9, some of their favorite memories and a host of badges for everything from the solar system to life cycles. Other activities have netted memorable badges, as well.


"My favorite badge was winter fun," said Bailey Revering. She had the choice to ski or tube at Mont du Lac. "I went tubing. It was really fun."

Natalie Knaack said the trip to the cabin and a "Me & My Guy" dance have been her favorite activities.

"You get to bring a special guy," Bailey said of the dance. Both she and Natalie said they chose their dads.

Touring Superior Choice Credit Union to earn a badge gave Alexa Dembroski a memorable opportunity.

"I got to hold $20,000," she said.

Troop leader Nicole Nyberg has been with the girls for four years. They meet twice a month for activities.

"I love watching and doing with the girls," Nyberg said. She's taught them how to sew, cook and garden. They adopted a family for Christmas, cleaned up the school and worked on their reading skills.

"It's not something I dreamed I would be, a forever leader," Nyberg said. But now, she plans to continue along the scouting path with the girls.


"You know when you've found a good thing," Nyberg said.

She recently reversed roles and let the scouts lead.

"I taught cheerleading," Alexa said.

"I taught exercising," Bailey said.

"I'm going to teach crochet," said Hope Certa-Werner.

"I'm going to teach scrapbooking," Natalie said.

The youthful lessons have had an effect on their leader, as well.

"It has taught me to have more patience with them," Nyberg said.


Wednesday, as the troop members sold cookies on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus, they learned math and business skills. The annual sale also provides funding for activities so the girls can keep earning badges.

Both Nyberg and Schiff were Girl Scouts themselves. Although some of the badges have changed, many have stood the test of time. And both women recall their years as Girl Scouts fondly.

"I liked knowing that I belonged somewhere," Nyberg said. She enjoyed going to meetings after school. "It's knowing you belong somewhere and it's OK."

Looking back, Schiff recalled how involved her troop was in the community. As an adult working for the organization, she can now see how the community gives right back. Volunteer leaders, co-leaders and community members who share their talents with troops keep the organization going, Schiff said.

Theresa Leopold became leader of Troop 4477, also out of Cathedral School, this fall because of her daughter.

"If I wanted her to be in Girl Scouts, I had to be a leader," Leopold said. Being a scout was important to Leopold growing up and she wanted to give her daughter the same opportunity. Now, she leads 15 girls in grades K-2.

"It was really overwhelming at first," Leopold said. Many things had changed since her days as a scout. But not everything was new.

"They are still doing the friendship squeeze, still doing the pledge," the new leader said. "They're making crafts and helping the community."


Positive role models and empowering experiences early in life, Leopold said, teaches these girls that they can "change the world."

For more information about the Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin Lakes and Pines, visit , call (218) 726-4710 or stop by one of the Open House events taking place 3-5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday in the Ordean Building, 424 W. Superior St. The Monday event is for current girls and volunteers. The Tuesday event is for families and community members wishing to learn more about Girl Scouting.

Volunteers are also being sought to clean up Camp Roundelay in Gordon from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. May 19. To sign up to help, call Schiff at (218) 726-4713.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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