Beyond the badges
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent January 23, 2013 1:58PM
Sisters Tiarra Ceaser, 9, of Merrillville, (from right) and Tiffany Ceaser, 10, both of Girl Scout Troop 29, join other girls in playing a game to learn how to sell Girl Scout cookies during the Family Fun Fest. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun- Times Media
Updated: January 23, 2013 2:01PM
Tiarra and Tiffany Ceaser, of Merrillville, had just finished making jewelry and were crafting valentines destined for a nearby nursing home, 7-year-old Alyssa Renk, of Hobart, was practicing her cookie-selling skills, and a large group of girls, their parents and siblings were getting fit with Zumba.
This was all part of a recent South Region Girl Scout Fun Fest, a four-hour event that director of membership Roxanne Charles said was designed to show participants there is so much more to Girl Scouts than camps, cookies and crafts.
“If we can get you here, we know we’ll knock your socks off,” Charles said of the event and Girl Scouts itself.
She said the South Region — which includes Northwest Indiana and southern Cook County, Ill. — has 10,000 Girl Scout members and would like to see that number increase to 14,000. The twice-a-year event at the Girl Scouts’ office at 8699 Broadway in Merrillville was divided into five sections. One taught financial strategy, giving the girls key skills to be entrepreneurs, including learning how to be a good cookie salesperson.
A technology corner allowed members to create a badge on a computer, one of the Scouts’ newer initiatives, Charles said.
A third area — called Lights, Camera, Action — showed the girls how they can create a television show using different props. Food and Zumba demonstrations made up the healthy living area, and a craft area included all that was needed to make the Valentine’s Day cards and get a community service badge in return.
The Ceaser sisters, Tiarra, 9, and Tiffany, 10, were cutting out hearts for the valentines as they discussed why they enjoy being in Girl Scouts.
Tiarra said she enjoys making crafts the most, but for Tiffany, the best part is helping others.
Nearby, Abby Frank, 7, of Griffith, was cutting out her third heart as her mother, Sara Frank, and brother, Adam Frank, 4, watched. Abby, too, likes doing crafts the most, but said she also enjoyed making a TV show on Lights, Camera, Action.
Alyssa Renk’s new sales technique might be just what she needed to reach her goal. She said she had sold 27 boxes of cookies, just shy of her goal of 30.
Victoria Miller, 16, of Merrillville, didn’t need the Fun Fest to teach her about all that Girl Scouts offers. A member for seven years, she is well aware of its many virtues.
Miller was there to design her final badge, an environmental badge with a tree on it, to mark her final project, which she’s doing for her Gold Award, the equivalent to the Eagle Scout project in Boy Scouts.
Miller said she will be doing a recycling fair at the Lake County Public Library’s Central Branch in Merrillville by the end of the year to show people that recycling can be fun. She said she will receive between $5,000 and $15,000 in scholarship money when she completes the project.
But that’s not what Miller believes she will get most from her Girl Scout years.
“I feel that Girl Scouts made me what I am today,” she said. “I met most of my friends through Girl Scouts — they are the friends with whom I always have stayed.”