Local Girl Scouts expand their horizons on Thinking Day

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Mon., Feb. 28, 2011
Girl Scouts play a circle game called "oom-pah-pea" Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Girl Scouts play a circle game called "oom-pah-pea" Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

Little and big Girl Scouts  from Lisbon, Griswold and Voluntown troops brought a taste of the global scouting community home to Jewett City on Feb. 26

Girl Scout Thinking Day, traditionally celebrated on Feb. 22, was marked by the Green Pines Service Unit with games, displays, yoga and a few nibbles of exotic foods.

About two dozen girls ranging from kindergarten-age Daisy Scouts to middle-school age Cadettes took part in the program, led by Ambassador Girl Scout Courtney Sobanski. She organized and conducted the day’s activities as part of her service requirement toward the Gold Award, the highest rank awarded in Girl Scouting.

Thinking Day is a worldwide celebration, said Sobanski, a senior at Norwich Free Academy. “It’s different in different countries. We’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, and I’ve always had fun, so I wanted to do something with it.”

Under Sobanski’s supervision, girls sat in circles grouped by age and each was given a potato with her name written on it. Sobanski asked the girls to “get acquainted with your potato” – feel its lump, ridges and overall shape. Then the girls handed back their potatoes and, with eyes closed, were asked to find their own potato among those in the pile. Most were successful.

The game had a point, Sobanski said: each of us is different and unique, but in some ways we’re the same.

Mary Beth Green, service unit manager for Green Pines, said that local troops who took part in the event had each been assigned to research the culture of one of this year’s focus countries: Yemen, Cyprus, Congo, Nepal and Bolivia. Displays along one wall depicted the flags, maps and other information the girls turned up in their research.

The displays included information about Girl Scout and Girl Guide activities in the focus countries. According to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, scouting for girls is active in nearly 150 nations on every continent except Antarctica.

Each of the focus countries was also represented by a typical food, which the girls were invited to sample, with mixed results. The Congo bars, which included chocolate, were popular; a sweet cake from Yemen, not so much. The girls passed near-universal approval on the popcorn – apparently a popular snack in Nepal.

The day’s activities included a brief session with a yoga instructor and some other games aimed at helping girls work together and identify values. Sobanski had the girls stand in a wide circle, and then she called out a variety of personality traits: “Do you think you’re kind? Are you fun? Are you helpful?” At each question they felt could be answered “yes,” the girls were asked to take a step forward. By the end of the list, they stood in a tight cluster.

“What do you think coming together can do?” Sobanski asked them “We can do a lot of positive things using our different qualities and skills.”

She challenged the girls to make it a point in the coming week to “find somebody who looks upset or unhappy and say something nice to them.” She encouraged them to keep a journal to record the results.

Adult leader Deb McPhail said that local Girl Scout troops are always looking for new members and adult volunteer leaders. To join Girl Scouts, call 1-800-922-2770 or go to www.gsofct.org.

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