December 16, 2008
"When you think about Girl Scouting you think about camping and cookies" Marilyn Pemberton told Putnam Rotarians today. "But we're changing because the world is changing and our girls are changing," the GS field executive said.
West Virginia's Black Diamond Council of the Girl Scouts has grown in its 35 years to serve 59 counties.
That's right! Fifty-nine counties, and that doesn't include the eastern panhandle. But it does include several counties in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio.
The Black Diamond organization serves 20,000 girls and 4,500 adults through fourteen offices from Athens and Steubenville, Ohio, to Chapmanville in Logan County.
Paid staff includes about fifty positions, about one percent of the adult leadership.
Pemberton knows all about it. She served as a volunteer worker and then as a field executive for 22 years in the Huntington office for Cabell, Wayne and Lincoln counties. Now her desk is in the Charleston service center and she works in Putnam County, Jackson County, and the St. Albans section of Kanawha.
But over her years of service Girl Scouting has changed, says Pemberton.
Activities are "girl led" and involve cooperative learning with hands-on experiences. The three "keys" to personal growth, self-sufficiency and leadership are Discover, Connect and Take Action. Discover -- Girls understand themselves and their valude and use their knowledge and skills to explore. Connect -- Girls care about, inspire and team up with others. Take Action -- Girls act to make the world a better place.
The program seeks to reach all girls. For needy applicants, the council pays the mandatory registration fee. The traditional uniforms are no longer required. There is an emphasis on special-interest groups -- high adventure teens, an advocacy group or even a soccer team.
A troop of 40 girls, ages 11 to 17 years, from Black Diamond will soon visit London's Pax Lodge. one of four world centres maintained by the World Association of Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.
Future trips might include a mountain climb to Our Chalet in the Swiss Alps and a tour of northern Italy.
Trips closer home include excursions to places such as Dollywood and Hershey Park.
"It's all part of a program to develop courage, confidence and character," says Pemberton, "to make the world a better place."
Girl Scouts of Black Diamond
is supported by the Girl Scout Product Sale program, individual gifts,
Family Campaign and United Way contributions.
The Service Center at 210 Hale Street in Charleston