Charlestown Residents are Proud Girl Scouts Forever

CATONSVILLE, MD (March 3, 2014) - Retirees who were once Girl Scouts belong to Girl Scouts Forever, an alumni group, and this month they are hosting a Girl Scouts birthday party at the Charlestown retirement community. They hope to be joined by area Girl Scouts as they jointly decorate flower pots and share their stories about Girl Scouting. The Charlestown residents are self-described "lifelong Girl Scouts." They volunteer in an array of projects, proudly living the Girl Scout Promise to build friendships, develop new skill and serve their communities. Girl Scouts Forever welcomes Girl Scout alumnae and gives women an opportunity for friendship, inspiration, and service with other women of similar background and experience. "Some of our members have been Girl Scouts for most of the century -- 50, 60, and even 70 years -- but we're young at heart," said Elaine "Jenny" Jenks, an organizer of the group who joined Girl Scouts when she was seven years old. "Girl Scouts has always been a social outlet for me. Growing up, it gave me a group to belong to -- a group with high ideals." Girl Scouts Forever includes women who were Brownies and Girl Scouts as children, some who joined when their daughters needed them as troop leaders, and some who acted in other Girl Scout capacities. "We only meet a few times a year, but when we do we like to talk, and we like to party," said Jenny. Since the group's inception in 2012, its members have celebrated special days like the Girl Scouts' anniversary, World Thinking Day, and Founder's Day (Juliette Low's birthday). "Many of our members have Girl Scout memories or memorabilia to share," said Jenny. "We remember the Girl Scout Promise, songs, and traditions, and reminisce about troop stories and camping days." Girl Scouting has had a lasting impact on Charlestown's residents: Dawn Strumsky attended her first Girl Scouts meeting in junior high school at the invitation of a friend.  "I loved it," said Dawn. "I ended up staying with it all the way through high school and achieved the highest award you could receive, the Curve Bar. I even met my best friend in Girl Scouts, and we have remained best friends to this day." Early on, Dawn began volunteering with Girl Scouts of Central Maryland (GSCM) and was later hired as field director, then program director. "Being a Girl Scout really built my character and reaffirmed who I was becoming," said Dawn. "Nowadays, girls have so many different choices of things to get involved with, but back then we didn't have that many options. Girl Scouts was educational. It instilled confidence in me and allowed me to experience things I never thought I would do." Lucy Marshall became a Girl Scout at age eight and has served in many different roles over the years from troop leader to vice president of GSCM. "I was an only child, and I needed things to do with other girls," said Lucy. "My mother signed me up and began volunteering as a troop leader. Later, after I had kids of my own, I was a troop leader for my daughter." Like Jenny and Dawn, Lucy said being a Girl Scout has made an everlasting impact in her life. "I have a lot of great memories," said Lucy. "I learned a lot of things in Girl Scouts that have stuck with me until this day and have met a lot of people who I've kept in touch with. I've been a Girl Scout for the last 70-some years, and I will be a Girl Scout until the day I die."