GREATER SPRINGFIELD I have fond memories of learning to pitch a tent at Camp Bonnie Brae . I also remember how badly a taut piece of canvas leaks if it's touched during a rainstorm. To this day, toasted marshmallows have never tasted quite as good as they did when roasted over a fire I'd helped to build. I still hum "Taps" when I take down the American flag at my home and can recite all the verses of "Kum Bah Ya."
I also can't pass a display of Girl Scout cookies at a store or event without buying a box of Thin Mints or Trefoils.
Count me among the 600 former scouts and leaders who have already contacted Girl Scouts of Central and Western Massachusetts (GSCWM) to let them know I consider myself a proud alumna, a former member of Cadet Troop 145 of Wilbraham.
The alumnae search is something Angelika Melien, director of fund development for GSCWM, said her office decided to initiate about six months ago, posting notices in its newsletter, on its Web site, and by sending press releases to local newspapers looking for former scouts.
The GSCWM Council, she explained, was formed when the Pioneer Valley, Berkshire and Central Massachusetts offices of Girl Scouting merged in 2008. That merger changed a lot of things, including the council's record keeping.
"In the course of the merger, everything had to be reinvented," Melien, director of told Reminder Publications. "One of the things that happened [in that reinvention] was, the focus was not on keeping alumnae connected [to scouting]."
That alumnae search is ready now to move to the next level, creating an Alumnae Association, with its first gathering slated for May 22 at the Sturbridge Host Hotel and Conference Center, located at 366 Main St. in Sturbridge.
The event will run from 12:30 to 3 p.m., and includes a buffet luncheon, a rolling video with historical photos from area Girl Scout activities, an opportunity to offer input on how the Alumnae Association should be involved in today's scouting, a chance to catch up with old scouting friends, plus time to listen to and take part in a camp sing-along and friendship circle.
Attendees are also asked to bring along photos, letters and other scouting memorabilia that can be scanned for inclusion in a DVD the council is planning to produce for Girl Scouting's 100th Anniversary celebration, which begins in November.
Tickets to the luncheon are $25, and must be reserved by May 16. To secure a seat, contact Brandi Barcomb by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 224-4036. Checks should be made payable to GSCWM and mailed to 40 Harkness Ave., East Longmeadow, MA 01028, Attn: Alumnae Luncheon.
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