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Girl Scouts ramp up fundraising

Girls in the after-school program in West Central play games under a parachute last week. Girl Scouts is raising funds to buy more computers, supplies and fund more day trips. (Colin Mulvany)
Girls in the after-school program in West Central play games under a parachute last week. Girl Scouts is raising funds to buy more computers, supplies and fund more day trips. (Colin Mulvany)

Say “Girl Scouts” and people are likely to answer with “cookies, camp and crafts.”

Everyone wants their Samoas or Thin Mints when cookie time comes around, and most organizations would be proud to have created a fundraiser that’s become an American institution. Yet cookie profits are not quite enough to pay for all the Girl Scout programs, so the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho are now launching a $1.3 million fundraising campaign to reach the final goal of $2 million.

“Let me make it clear that the cookies are not going away,” said Pamela Lund, chief executive officer of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho. “We love the cookies, and we love that people love the cookies.”

The group just finished a successful $4.2 million fundraising campaign to pay for the remodeling and modernization of Camp Four Echoes on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The campaign now kicking off is to fund program development, technology, transportation and scholarships.

“We are turning 100 years old next year, and this campaign will take us right into celebrating that,” said Lund, adding that the Girl Scouts are changing some programs and adding new ones to stay relevant. “We lose a lot of girls around the ages of 11 to 14 because there are so many activities to choose from at that age.”

One need is updated technology and transportation. Girl Scouts in rural areas could have better access to programs if the technology was there.

“We serve a huge geographical area,” said Lund. “Our vehicles really need an update and we need emergency vehicles for the camp.”

The Girl Scouts headquarters is in West Central neighborhood, and the summer program is successful. Last year, the group gave out $90,000 in scholarships to girls who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford to go to camp or attend an after-school program.

“Our day camp this summer had a waiting list, and we couldn’t serve everyone,” said Lund. “We always say that everyone can be a Girl Scout, so we try to find a way. If we had more funds for scholarships we could serve more girls at risk.”

The summer camp includes – among many other activities – day trips to Camp Four Echoes.

“Many of the kids we take would otherwise never leave town in the summer,” said Lund.

Kelsy Shatto, 19, was in Girl Scouts for 10 years. Now she’s a program center assistant, which means she plans after-school and other activities for the very active Girl Scouts. The girls do gym time, art time and cook after school.

On a recent Tuesday afternoon, they played with a giant multicolored parachute in the gym before a snack of popcorn in the kitchen.

“We do a lot of different things,” said Shatto, who won a Gold Award for the toy store project she created while at Central Valley High School. That program is now in its fourth year.

“I love doing art with the girls, and it seems like we quickly run out of some of the supplies,” Shatto said. “It’s amazing how much paper a group of Girl Scouts can go through.” Part of this fundraising campaign will go to cover supplies for art and cooking programs.

Over the past couple of years, the Girl Scouts have experimented with career-focused programs that reach out to the community. When they visit a veterinarian they don’t just get a tour of the clinic and a chance to hold a bunny, they also get to talk about careers in animal medicine. Sometimes that can change a girl’s career perspective.

“We had a girl who really wanted to be a cosmetologist, until we had a plastic surgeon come and visit,” said Lund. “After that visit she wanted to become a plastic surgeon. If she hadn’t met the surgeon here, she may never have known about that career.”

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