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Girl Scout volunteer Rusty celebrates 75 years of Girl Scouting



On February 25, Girl Scout volunteer, Rusty Merrill, was celebrated at her church for 75 years of Girl Scouting! Girl Scout staff attended to congratulate her on this milestone and presented her with flowers and a cake on behalf of Girl Scouts of Colorado and Region 4.



We got the chance to ask Rusty about her Girl Scout experience over the years.

 

Please share with me your roles with Girl Scouts over the past 75 years.


  • Girl Member -- Received the Curved Bar Award in 1958 (Highest Award at that time). Grew up in Denver at the old Mile High Council. (10 years)

  • Mariner Ship 10 Skipper --Newport, Rhode Island (1968-1972)

  • Senior Round Up -- Colorado Springs (1959)

  • Council  Delegate -- National Council Delegate

  • Field Director and Camping Specialist Staff Member -- Girl Scouts of Rhode Island (1965-1971)

  • Council Training Task Group -- Primitive Camping, Outdoor Skills

  • Camp Counselor, Program Director, Camp Director, Cook --Various Girl Scout camps around the country (1959-2011)

  • International Trainers Conference -- Bronerion, Northern Wales

  • Troop Leader -- all levels (1959-present)

  • Council Trainer/Master Trainer -- Age Level, Outdoor, First Aid/CPR, Songs, Games, Ceremonies (1966-Present)

  • Opening Ceremony Choir -- World Conference (1984)

  • Troop Organizer, Troop Consultant, Neighborhood Chair, Service Unit Manager -- (Present)


How has being a part of Girl Scouts impacted your life?


I was a shy child, but becoming a Patrol Leader (wish we still used them) taught me confidence, and leadership skills. I learned so many life skills earning badges, but mostly loved the outdoor badges. Going to Girl Scout camp for 10 years mastered my outdoor skills, and taught me to be skilled and independent outside. All these outdoor skills have provided me the opportunity to now be a volunteer naturalist at Mueller  State Park, teaching kids and family programs, and become an outdoor trainer. I made hundreds of friends, and still stay in touch with two women from my original Girl Scout troop. Now, being a troop leader, for girls, mostly from broken homes, I try to teach them skills, but mostly how to live by the Girl Scout Promise and Law in this crazy world we live in. Try to give them consistency and love.


What is one of your favorite memories of your Girl Scout experience?


 I was a camper at a former Colorado Girl Scout Camp, Flying G Ranch, which I attended for 10 years. When we were in high school. I was part of a group called the Prospectors, which was the oldest girls. We took a 3-week pack trip in Pike National  Forest, leading donkeys. It was very challenging, but we did so well, and I still have pictures and many memories!


Why did you decide to become a Lifetime Member and continue to support the organization for so many years?


My late husband and I became lifetime members in 1986 because we both strongly believed in the program and the value it had and still has for the girls. He ran the cookie program for 27 years in two councils.


Everything is constantly changing these days, and there is so much upheaval locally,  nationally and internationally that the girls need something constant and consistent that they can depend on, not to keep changing. They need love and security and the sharing with other girls. I love having a multi-level troop, D-C and watching the older girls help the younger girls and how they all grow. The younger girls are so excited when they get to bridge to a new level and learn even more skills.


What have you learned as a Girl Scout volunteer?


As stated above I learned a lot of life skills as a girl member, and since I'm still active I've had to learn the new programs especially the STEM badges and Journeys. Can't say that I love them, but learned them well enough to help the girls, who know more about it than I ever could, but I really enjoy seeing the girls grow with skill, confidence and leadership, as they make decisions on all their troop program. Since I'm working with the girls I need to keep up with what's going on in the schools, and have to learn what the current fads are.


What do you hope girls have learned from you?


That an "old" person  can be fun, and learn from them! They love going camping and I love sharing my skills with them. They also love doing service to the community and see all the places where I volunteer. I'm hoping that the Promise and Law will help them navigate today's complex and scary world.


Thank you, Rusty, for your lifelong commitment to the organization and for being an amazing volunteer! You are a true inspiration.


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