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Local Girl Scouts give back

by LISA SHADE Special to the Gazette on November 08, 2013 10:49 AM

Girl Scouts is the world’s most successful organization dedicated to fostering girls’ leadership potential.

The Girl Scout experience has shaped the lives of the majority of female senior executives and business owners, two-thirds of women in Congress and virtually every female astronaut.

Girl Scouting helps put girls on a path for future career success, but the experience also inspires them to give back to the community. Girl Scouts are more concerned about paying it forward than getting payback.

According to a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute, all of Girl Scouts alumnae, regardless of how long they were a Girl Scout, are more active in community service and volunteer work than women who were not Girl Scouts.

Two Indiana teens aren’t waiting for graduation or their first career success to start giving back; they are making an impact right now on the lives of young girls in their community.

Ashleigh Nealer and Chyenne Yeager, seniors at Indiana Area Senior High School, are best friends who met in seventh grade. Both have been involved with Girl Scouting since first grade.

Through Girl Scouts, they enjoyed many adventures, including camping, kayaking and travel.

They rode bikes in the Allegheny National Forest, explored historical Philadelphia and Gettysburg, and gazed at the stars at Cherry Springs.

Today both girls are working toward earning the Gold Award — the highest honor a Girl Scout can achieve.

When they discovered there was a need in Indiana for more troop leaders, the girls stepped up to co-lead a Daisy troop — girls in kindergarten and first grade — at St. Bernard’s School.

The pair, who worked with girls the same age as program assistants at Blue Spruce day camp, didn’t want any girls to miss out on all the fun and friendship of Girl Scouting.

“I wanted those girls to have the opportunity to be in a troop,” Ashleigh recalled.

Chyenne agreed: “I can give them all the opportunities I had in Girl Scouts when I was younger.”

They had their first troop meetings in October, and plans are starting to take shape for the Girl Scout year, starting with their participation in the Veterans Day Parade in Indiana.

“They just can’t wait,” Ashleigh said. “They are so excited.”

The girls aren’t the only ones excited for all the adventures to come.

“I love the fact that I am doing this with my best friend,” said Ashleigh. “Chyenne is a great leader, and she’s good with kids.”

Chyenne is happy to be working side-by-side with her best friend as well.

“Ashleigh is always bright and happy,” she said.

“I am really excited that together we bring more than 20 years combined of Girl Scouts experience to our troop.”

She is also looking forward to sharing what she loved about Girl Scouts when she was young.

“I am really excited to take trips with them and teach them the basic camping skills I learned when I was their age.”

While their young Girl Scouts are just beginning their adventure, their leaders hope they continue with Girl Scouts until high school graduation.

“We are giving them a foundation through Girl Scouts, and we want them to continue through Ambassadors like we have,” Chyenne said. “It’s worth it.”

Kathy Nealer, Ashleigh’s mom and troop leader, sees value in Girl Scouts for Ashleigh and Chyenne beyond fun, friendship and the opportunity to lead others.

“Other clubs and activities pressure girls to be a certain way to fit in, but not Girl Scouts,” she said. “Girl Scouts allows girls to be themselves.”

Chyenne wishes more girls were involved in Girl Scouts.

“I encourage anyone with a daughter to enroll her in Girl Scouts,” she said. “It’s such a great organization.”

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