Girl Scouts of all ages gathered for a reunion tea party last Sunday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the central peninsula’s first troop.
Rosemary Pilatti of Nikiski has been a Girl Scout since the 1960s, when she was 7 and growing up in the Midwest. Now a retired music teacher, she spends her time volunteering for the organization.
In January, Pilatti and other scout leaders began realizing the peninsula’s Girl Scout troops were reaching their 60th anniversary this year. Pilatti said she thought it would be a nice time to bring everyone together to reminisce.
“Scouting offers a means of networking and a method to achieve goals,” Pilatti said. “Participation has kept me inspired to keep making new goals and scouting encourages one to keep believing in dreaming big. It’d be nice just to share stories and hopefully, they’ve had as positive an experience as I’ve had. I really had positive experiences all along, and good role models and mentors.”
Girl Scout troops are divided among regions. The entire Kenai Peninsula makes up service unit 941, which is part of the Girl Scouts of Alaska Council. On the central peninsula, there are seven troops of about 100 girls.
Mildred Bagley, who arrived on the peninsula in the late 1950s, formed the peninsula’s first Girl Scout Troop in the old Kenai Elementary School. The school, which is now home to the Boys and Girls Club, hosted the area’s first 18-girl troop in 1959.
Since the 60s, the peninsula’s Girl Scout troops have grown.
For the last few months, Pilatti worked to reach out to current and former Girl Scouts on the peninsula, to ask them about their experience for the reunion tea party.
Pat Porter, who now lives in Texas, was a former Kenai Mayor and grew up in the area. She was a troop leader for 15 years. She said her daughter’s troop backpacked the Resurrection Trail, drove snow machines to stay overnight in cabins and took canoeing lessons at the pool.
Joan Seaman took over troop leadership from Porter. She raised both her daughters in Girl Scouts. Now they are leading Seaman’s granddaughters in Girl Scouts.
“The best years in scouts were before there were too many rules and regulations,” Seaman said.
Debbi Palm was a leader in the 1980s and 90s. She said she remembers taking the train to Denali National Park with a troop for a four-day camping trip.
In 1990, Kenai’s sister council, from Hokkaido, Japan, came to the peninsula. The girls were here for a Girl Scout sister exchange and the community welcomed the four Japanese teenagers with open arms.
In the early years of scouting on the peninsula, Pilatti said girls learned skills like cooking and sewing. Today, troops learn these early skills, while also focusing on giving back to the area’s homeless population.
“They pack backpacks with personal supplies for foster children in our area,” Pilatti said. “Troops reach out by giving hygiene supplies to the identified homeless connect students in the school district.”
She said girls also make blankets and socks for infants, glaze bowls to give to the food bank and created table favors for senior citizens receiving Meals on Wheels.
“There’s a really strong heart for projects that help with the community,” Pilatti said.
Thirty girls and women attended the reunion tea party, where Pilatti said the group shared stories and memorabilia.
Today, Girl Scouts from all over Alaska are working toward attending the biennial Girl Scouts of Alaska Encampment. At the end of May, girls from across the state will meet in Palmer. The campout will feature numerous activities revolved around ‘STEAM’ (science, technology, engineering, arts and math), such as gold panning, bucket and barrel drumming, electric circuitry, dog mushing, squid dissection, fiber arts, world dances, belly dancing, tie-dying, wall climbing, exploring sources of renewable energy and others, Pilatti said.