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Never a dull moment.

Girl Scout troops come together for campout

September 10, 2007

STAMFORD - On the first night of the Girl Scout Stamford Camporee in Cove Island Park, Courtenay Austin -who has been with the Girl Scouts for 66 years as a member or a leader -had the honor of building the campfire and leading the troops in song.

But Austin's voice had to compete with the waves on the beach, arriving campers and a group of girls singing on their own.

After Austin counted to three several times, everyone joined in "Rise Up Old Flame." It is traditionally sung, Austin said, to help start the fire.

Austin's longevity with the group is easily explained.

"If it wasn't worth doing, I wouldn't be doing it," the Norwalk resident said.

Girl Scouts in Stamford have camped at the park on this weekend for about 15 years, troop leaders said, but decided this year to invite other troops from the Girl Scouts of Southwestern Connecticut. They expected at least 300 girls to pass through the camp during the weekend.

But this may be the last time the troops meet as a council before a merger into one statewide group, Girl Scouts of Connecticut, on Oct. 1.

The merger is part of a nationwide restructuring of Girl Scouts USA. The state's troops will fall under one administrative office, and share resources and information with troops across the state. The larger organization will help with fundraising and cut operation costs, officials said.

"By merging smaller councils into larger councils they will have more clout and more visibility in the local states, and therefore be able to deliver more and higher quality services for girls," said Jennifer Smith Turner, who will be the chief operating officer for Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Troop leaders and scouts at the retreat said they favor the reorganization.

Girls from Troop 549 in Stamford said they thought the reorganization may create opportunities to meet people.

Some troop leaders expressed concern about the access they might have to the state office as opposed to a local counsel.

Mia Edwards, who had just started a grill and was covered in charcoal dust for the effort, said her daughters' Stamford troop relied a great deal on their council because they were only in their third year.

Edwards' daughter, Daniella, 8, who has been with the Girl Scouts since first grade, said she hopes she will be able to continue camping and learning about new things with her troop.

Camping is the best part of being a Girl Scout, Daniella said. "It's fun to play with my friends outdoors."

By Monica Potts
Staff Writer
Copyright (c) 2007, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.

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