By Katie Fitzgerald
This story is part of an Outlook series showcasing agencies affiliated with United Appeal for Athens County. This year's countywide campaign goal is $203,000.
No longer just about door-to-door sales of addictive Tag-a-longs and Thin Mints or singing campfire songs in the wilderness, today's Black Diamond Girl Scouts are becoming more diverse and far reaching than ever before with the benefits of technology.
"People think Girl Scouts are still just cookies and camping, but Girl Scouts do a lot more," said Deb Dowler, director of the Athens Black Diamond Council.
The Black Diamond Council serves almost 569 girls and about 120 adults in the county, reaching about one in every five girls. The national office's goal is one in nine. While the bulk of girl scouts are still in traditional troops, the administration is using new programs to reach girls who cannot participate in weekly meetings.
One program, Snowbound, allows girls to become a part of a virtual troop, keeping in contact with the other members through e-mail. These girls are provided a kit complete with a V-tech machine for e-mail, tape player, phone card and a camera. The program lasts five months and has three parts: snow bound, spring out and unbound.
"Basically the whole troop experience is in their home," said Dowler. "We hope they arrange to meet each other when it's over."
For others who don't want to be tied down with the traditional weekly meeting, girls can purse different activities based on their own interests. For instance, girls interested in dance can go to a ballet or a dance class instead. "They hone their skills and still get four program goals according to their interests," Dowler said.
The four program goals of the Black Diamond Girls Scouts include: learn to relate to other people; learn to contribute to society; learn to develop their own values; and learn to develop self-potential. "That is the crux of the program, it's what it's all about," Dowler said. "We want them to become young women of tomorrow, young leaders of tomorrow."
Other programs include the "Baby think it over" program where the girls care for infant dolls with a computer chip for 24 hours and are required to carry around a diaper bag. Each doll is programmed to cry periodically and the chip monitors how the girls react to the infant.
Yet another Girl Scout program, "Voices," lets participants learn science through culture. For instance, working with geometry through quilting and the women's health patch has girls and their mothers focus on three areas of the body: bones, breasts and the bladder. "Because those are things they have to deal with when they are older as women," Dowler said.
The Girl Scouts serves girls ages 5- to 17-years-old.
Donations that the organization receives goes to funding programs, providing camping and other equipment that the troops can use and providing assistance for some girls to be a part of Girl Scouts and help them attend the Girl Scout's wider opportunities across the globe.
Katie Fitzgerald is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.