Several area Girl Scouts are seeing a longtime dream come true today as participants in the Pasadena Tournament of Roses Parade.
The young women have all received their Gold Award, the organization’s highest in honor, qualifying them for the Tournament Troop, which carries the banners announcing the award-winning floats in the parade. Boy Scouts who have earned the rank of Eagle Scout are also members.
Participating in the Rose Parade provides Girl Scouts with an opportunity to showcase the importance of community service, said Mary Broomfield, marketing manager for Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles.
“It is an honor afforded to girls who have earned the Gold Award, through accomplishments in leadership, career exploration and a large-scale service project — the core of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience,” she said.
Becoming a member of the Tournament Troop has been a major motivation for Michelle M. Longtain to remain in Troop 735, whose members hail from Glendale and Burbank. The 17-year-old Glendale resident is a senior at Providence High School in Burbank, and she started her path in Girl Scouts as a Brownie in first grade.
“I’ve wanted to carry the banner since I was a Brownie,” Michelle said. “I was told that the girls in our area get this opportunity, so it was one of my big motivations for staying in Girl Scouts, but all the way, I’ve done other things and gained so much more.”
Michelle’s project to earn her Gold Award was to create activity boxes for patients and children who are visiting family at Glendale Adventist’s rehabilitation department. The boxes are filled with games that challenge memory, puzzles, pens, paper and crayons.
She was inspired with the idea after her grandfather had a stroke and went through rehabilitation there, she said.
“I was 12 years old, and I would go and visit and hang out,” she said. “I always wanted to do something when I was there. I thought having activities would give kids something to do rather than just stare at the person in the hospital.”
Kaitlyn Ireland, 17, a senior at Crescenta Valley High School, conducted an introduction to science day for elementary school girls in her community to earn her Gold Award. The purpose was to show that girls can have as much fun with science as boys, she said.
She’s wanted to be a member of the Tournament Troop for as long as she can remember, she said.
“It’s a dream come true,” Kaitlyn said. “It’s a good end to my Girl Scout experience and Gold Award experience.”
Kelly Gregg, 17, a senior at La Cañada High School, founded a club at high school for her Gold Award.
The club is called Dreams for Africa, “Dreams” serving as an acronym for Discussing Rights for Women, Education, AIDS, Malaria and Safe water.
The club hosted an AIDS awareness week and World Water Day, Kelly said.
“For the AIDS awareness week, we sold red ribbons with the Gay Straight Alliance at our school,” she said. “The proceeds went to Keep A Child Alive in Africa and India and the Pasadena AIDS Service Center.”
She is looking forward to marching with the Tournament Troop, she said.
“It’s a great opportunity to be in it and it’s such a tradition in Pasadena,” she said. “I’ve grown up watching the parade, so it’s exciting to be in it.”
To prepare for the 6-mile trek, the Girl Scouts have been walking in group practices, Michelle said. The Saturday before Christmas, they walked five miles in the rain, carrying the poles for the banners.
“I think it’s safe to say we’re prepared for anything after practicing in the rain,” she said.
Michelle has mixed feelings about this final honor in the scouting organization, she said.
“I’m growing up, and this is one of the rewards of working hard in the Girl Scouts,” she said. “It’s sad it’s coming to the end, but exciting because it’s a whole new chapter and something I know can open roads to other things. I feel real special that I get to march the six miles.”Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun