By Sandi P. Beason
When Mary Pruitt became a Girl Scout troop leader seven years ago, she had never been involved with Scouting.
"That was the first time I had been camping," she said. "I was never a Girl Scout myself, when I was young. I wanted my child to experience the things I didn't."
The girls in her troop were 6 years old, she said, "and I've seen them grow and mature into young ladies. It's an experience that I can't really describe."
Now, the Girl Scouts is extending the same opportunity to other girls and adults during the agency's annual membership drive. Girls ages 5-17 can become scouts, and adult volunteers are needed to serve as troop leaders, said Amanda Trent, membership specialist for Lee, Union and west Chickasaw counties.
"We're trying to get existing troops re-registered, and see how many girls are coming back," she said.
Several recruiting events have been held, and the biggest one is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Link Centre. To get the word out, she said, Girl Scouts has put flyers up in schools and invited girls and potential leaders to the big recruitment event.
"Girl Scouts offers a wide range of activities, canoeing, hiking, camping, pretty much any outdoor activity," she said. "It also has some domestic programs, like sewing, cooking, all those, and leadership and learning to organize events."
Last year, Girl Scouts served more than 8,000 girls in Northeast Mississippi and aims for a 10 percent increase in girls and adults this year, said Executive Director Paula Brewster.
"We'd love to have a 60 percent retention rate," Brewster said. "The interest is extremely strong."
With programs like Studio 2B - with a four-point emphasis of believe, belong, become and build - Brewster said the Girl Scouts has piqued the interest of more older girls.