SIKESTON -- Girl Scouts will celebrate their organization's 95th birthday this month with local troops planning their own events to mark the occasion during Girl Scout Week, which began Saturday.
April Isbell, communications director of Girl Scouts-Cotton Boll Area Council Inc., said everything within the organization is designed around the theme to build girls courage, confidence and character.
"Whether it's the youngest girls learning about something by going on a field trip or giving back to the community through a service project to completing a challenge course at camp -- it's all about helping them grow as a person and them having fun while they do it," Isbell said.
Among Cotton Boll Girl Scouts' programs are Daisy Day, Brownies at Hogwarts, Junior Magic, Mingo canoe trip and College 411 for Seniors.
The organization began in March 1912 when Juliette Gordon Low returned to the United States from a trip to England and made a phone call to her cousin, requesting a meeting to discuss her idea for all girls in America.
Low visioned expanding opportunities and learning for the average American girl. With that vision, the first group of Girl Scouts was born.
Since that first meeting 95 years ago, the organization has evolved from 18 members to 3 million.
Locally, Cotton Boll Council has 2,800 girl- and adult-members with active troops in Charleston, East Prairie, Sikeston, Dexter, New Madrid.
Nine-year-old Annie Georgia O'Brien of Sikeston said she likes being a Girl Scout because it's fun.
"You get to be with your friends," said the third-grade member of Brownie Troop 338 in Sikeston.
Annie Georgia's mom, Julie O'Brien, said the girls get to broaden their horizons in many different ways through Girl Scouts.
"I think it's the values it teaches the girls that I like best. It's a service organization," said O'Brien, who has served as her daughter's troop leader for the past four years.
O'Brien was also a Girl Scout from second grade through high school under leader, Marcia Manning of Sikeston.
To celebrate Girl Scouts' birthday, Annie Georgia and her troop members attended the Super Sports Blowout Saturday in Poplar Bluff, which was a council-wide event of fun activities for girls from all over Southeast Missouri.
On Thursday night the troop members will try to earn their safety sense badges at the Girl Scout office in Dexter.
"It's neat to get the girls together, and some of them might not get to experience something like Super Sports Blowout if they weren't in Girl Scouts," O'Brien said. "Of course, selling the cookies teaches them where money comes from and how to earn it."
This year O'Brien's troop started doing more things to help the community, such as planting flowers at a nursing home and donating money to the library, she said.
Karen Ferrell, leader of her daughter Emma's sixth grade troop in Sikeston, said what she likes best about the Girl Scouts is all the different programs offered.
"Having an organization like this is different from everything else they do, and it's a very traditional thing to do. It's been around forever," Ferrell said. And the older the girls get, the more opportunities the Council offers them.
"My girls, hopefully, in May will be going on a canoe trip," Ferrell said.
To commemorate the organization's birthday Ferrell's seven-member troop spent Saturday morning boxing food at the Bootheel Food Bank. Later in the afternoon they also attended the council-wide event in Poplar Bluff. Ferrell said her daughter has gained a lot through Girl Scouts.
"She has learned responsibility and caring about others. We've done a lot of service projects over the years, and it does teach them a lot, like doing good things for people," Ferrell said.
For more information on Girl Scouting or becoming a Girl Scout volunteer, call the Cotton Boll Council office toll-free at 1-888-780-8373.