November 29, 2012 – Coronado Elementary School, Littleton, CO
The Girl Scouts of USA named 2012 The Year of the Girl for their 100th Anniversary and has spent the year focusing on a program which instills each Girl Scout with a sense of strength and responsibility in her community.
To celebrate The Year of the Girl, Troop 4451 from Coronado Elementary School in Littleton, brought together leaders and Girl Scouts from eight local troops, a total of 75 girls and 12 leaders, for a first-ever All Troop Meeting on November 29, 2012. The leaders and Girl Scouts of Troop 4451 wanted to utilize the gathering as a platform to provide a large-scale and meaningful community service. They pulled from the concepts behind The Year of the Girl and decided that the most inspiring image of women representing strength, bravery, and service would be the very women who sacrifice and serve our country so that our girls are free to be Girl Scouts.
Towards this end, Troop 4451 adopted the Pocket Flag Project, a project during which miniature flags are folded, bagged with a special note, and then shipped to the front lines, where they are worn in the pockets of active soldiers to remind them of their flag and home. The girls set a big goal: to fold 600 flags in one hour! As the project evolved, the troop realized that Girl Scouts were not often given an opportunity to learn about the American flag, how to take care of it, what it symbolizes, and what it means to them. To remedy this before the event took place, Troop 4451 distributed worksheets, taught how to fold and handle the flag in person, and asked all of the Girl Scouts to write essays about what the flag means to them. They were also asked to invite friends and family who had served our country to the event or to help their Girl Scout write the essay. We wanted to be sure that by the time the project was over, the portion of the Girl Scout Promise which reads “I promise to serve my country” became more than just a phrase and the flag on their uniform became more than just a patch.
Pooling the Troop’s resources, we were able to gain the support of two important groups: The Daughters of the American Revolution – Columbine Chapter (DAR) and the American Legion Auxiliary – Unit 103 (ALA 103). The DAR provided books about the Flag Code and the Pledge, and both the DAR and the ALA 103 provided very necessary financial support to cover the cost of flags, bags, printing, and postage to the front lines. A friend of the Troop, a retired high-ranking Army officer, now employed at the Department of Defense, helped us to put together a group of six strong and inspiring active servicewomen. The event’s sponsors, as well as the servicewomen, joined us for the event and helped the girls fold the flags.
At six tables, Troop 4451 divided the Girl Scouts, the sponsors, and the servicewomen so that each table represented various ages, multiple generations, of girls and women. Each table was encouraged to share stories, learn from one another, and help to enrich the experience. As baskets of pocket flags filled, the girls would ceremoniously carry the flag baskets across the big gym, to the symbolic mailing box, pour them in, and ring our American eagle wrought iron bell. Each girl had a turn and they were so excited to carry the basket and ring the bell- they rang the bell with such pride! The servicewomen were Girl Scouts in their youth and joined us in our closing circle, as did our sponsors, and veteran Girl Scouts who had attended to support the event. The first woman from the Army Coast Guard to be sent to Afghanistan told the girls that she received a pocket flag her first time being deployed and said it now hangs framed in her office. She enthralled the girls with her story of how she wore it in her pocket and it made her feel connected to home.
To make sure the project is not just a one-time event, Troop 4451 sent home letters to all of Coronado Elementary School’s students in November asking them if they’d like to send a personal pocket flag to a deployed solider in their family, neighborhood, or community. This project sought to turn the Girl Scout promise into an action and succeeded tenfold… in fact, it succeeded 600 fold!
Respectfully submitted by Shoshana Nash, Troop 4451 Co-Leader