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East County Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2018 2 years ago

Scouting new territory in Lakewood Ranch

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Girl Scouts of Suncoast Florida attempts to recruit new members in East County.
by: Amelia Hanks Community Reporter

Myakka City’s Catriona Barr, 17, was at Braden River Elementary School Aug. 22 trying to convince girls that today’s Girl Scouts offers unique opportunities.

Barr is an Ambassador Girl Scout in the Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida. She was part of a contingent of Scouts and leaders making stops at area elementary and middle schools to inform girls and parents about the new opportunities that exist.

“We don’t just sit in our tents and sew,” said Barr, whose Troop 361 meets at Braden River Elementary. “I got a robotics badge by going to USF-St. Petersburg.”

Robotics is just one of the many new achievement badges available to the girls. Others include environmental stewardship, cybersecurity, space science, mechanical engineering and college knowledge.

“I spent months building my own robot at home and then teaching it to our younger scouts,” Barr said. “It wasn’t easy.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean the Girl Scouts doesn’t do many of the same activities that made the organization popular since its inception in 1912.

Barr’s 9-year-old sister, Alice, likes the service projects along with one of the staples of the organization.

“My favorite part about Girl Scouts is selling cookies,” said Alice Barr, a member of Troop 701 that also meets at Braden River Elementary.

Alice Barr joined the Daisies, the youngest Girl Scouts who are in kindergarten and first grade, four years ago. Her mother, Elly Barr, is now her troop leader.

While Alice Barr is just getting started, Catriona Barr is in her final year as she attempts to earn the Girl Scout Gold Award, which is like the Boy Scouts’ Eagle Award. She said her major project in earning the award will be finding ways to end food waste in Manatee County.

Also representing the Barrs is 14-year-old Kim, who was explaining to potential members how she earned a cybersecurity badge as a member of Troop 361.

“To get the cybersecurity badge you have to complete a program where you learn about privacy and how to be internet smart, like not giving information away,” Kim Barr said. “I think it is one of the more important badges that we get.”

Catriona Barr talked about earning a financial literacy badge, which she earned by talking with a Wells Fargo & Co. representative, who covered such information as using debit and credit cards and saving money.

“It’s complicated stuff,” Catriona Barr said. “We’re doing really interesting things.”

“I love what the Scouts have done for my girls,” Elly Barr said. “It makes them care more about their community and each other.”

Tara resident Shannon Phillips brought her 6-year-old daughter, Ava, to the meeting because she herself was a Girl Scout 30 years ago in Bradenton.

“I’m excited for Ava to start earning badges because I think she will really like working toward a goal,” Phillips said. “It’s like I’m doing it all over again through."

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