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Girl Scouts seeking new members, repairing Marble Falls Scout House

Marble Falls Girl Scouts member Ava Lynn McNamara keeps still as a volunteer paints a rose on her face during an event earlier this year. The Wildflower Trails Service Unit of the Girls Scouts of Central Texas is holding registration 6:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at The Uptown Theatre, 218 Main St. in Marble Falls. Girl Scouts is open to any girl ages 5-18 who is in kindergarten through high school. Go to marblefallsgirlscouts.com for more information. File photo

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

MARBLE FALLS — Ahh, the sound of school bells can only mean one thing: It’s time to get signed up for the Girl Scouts.

OK, maybe that isn’t the “one thing,” but it’s definitely a fun thing.

The Marble Falls wing of the Girls Scouts is holding registration 6:30-7:30 p.m. Sept. 4 at the Uptown Theatre, 218 Main St. The organization is open to any girl ages 5-18 in grades kindergarten through high school.

While Girl Scouts are most known for selling cookies, organizers say it’s much more than that.

“It’s less about cookies and camping and more about building leadership in the girls,” said Susan Cangemi, the Wildflower Trails Service Unit director. “The Girl Scouts is really about helping these beautiful girls become strong women.”

Through the Girl Scouts, members develop skills that will benefit them beyond the organization through activities, events, programs and lessons. While selling cookies might look like a fundraiser on the surface, the annual event, which comes around in February, also helps the girls learn entrepreneurship and public speaking skills and builds self-confidence.

But, Cangemi added, it’s only part of the whole Girl Scouts experience.

Each troop and unit has programs and events throughout the year based on the girls and their needs. Many are exciting as well as educational. That’s part of the emphasis on providing them experiences that help them grow.

“Last year, the Girl Scouts of Central Texas had a flight simulator in Austin that middle school and high school girls could go and try out,” Cangemi said. “It was a great opportunity and experience for the girls. Where else would they have had that chance?”

Across the Highland Lakes, the Scouts can participate in high-adventure activities.

“There are a couple of camps that offer zip-lining for the younger girls on up,” she said. “There’s also a camp that offers a trapeze, rock climbing and things you’d see in the movies.”

Cangemi said her troop selected a campout at the Austin Aquarium as their first overnight activity later this fall.

“So we’ll be camped out next to the shark tank,” she added.

For troop members, one of the best things about the Girl Scouts is, well, it’s for girls. Cangemi explained that girls need a place to escape the demands of today’s world, when there is so much outside pressure exerted on girls to look a particular way, play certain things and share specific interests.

“Girl Scouts allows them to be who they are — just be yourself and do the things you want to do,” she said.

Along with registration, the Girl Scouts of Central Texas and the Wildflower Trails Service Unit are working on renovating the Scout House, located in Marble Falls’ Johnson Park. The Central Texas organization selected this Scout House as the first to be renovated because of the continued, and growing, community support for the local Girl Scouts and the organization as a whole.

Officials recently had to close the Scout House for safety concerns because of deferred maintenance. But Cangemi said those issues have been addressed as well as a new air-conditioning unit being installed, though there still is much work to be completed.

“They’ve basically gutted the inside of the building, so we really have a blank slate to work with,” she said. “So we’re really looking for donations to help support the renovations.”

The local troops have experienced a jump in membership over the past couple of years. In 2013, only 29 girls sold Girl Scout cookies in the Marble Falls area, but that exploded to 86 in 2014. The service unit also expanded its sponsored events from one in 2013 to five in 2014, which drew Girl Scouts from across the region and as far away as Fort Hood.

So, the local service unit is experiencing tremendous growth, and the Scout House renovation will help meet the needs.

Go to marblefallsgirlscouts.com to donate to the Scout House renovation or learn more about the Girl Scouts and the Wildflower Trails Service Unit.

daniel@thepicayune.com