BENNINGTON — A teacher by profession but a Girl Scout leader by avocation, Emily Becker brings her love of children and organizational skills to both her job and her troop. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving girls in Vermont and New Hampshire, has recognized Becker as Volunteer of the Month for August.
Becker, 41, of Bennington, is the leader of Troop 58007, a wide-ranging group of girls from Daisy level (kindergarten and first grade) through Cadette (grades 6-8).
While their numbers have shrunk a bit due to the pandemic, girls are once again returning to Girl Scouts and her troop, with 13 girls already registered for the coming season. She’s also a substitute teacher for Shaftsbury Elementary, Monument Elementary, and Molly Stark Elementary schools.
“I’ve got all kinds of girls and two dads who are just godsends – one is signed up to be a Brownie leader,” Becker said.
Becker said she loves the multi-level troop, which allows older Girl Scouts to help the younger ones. At bridgings, when girls graduate to the next level of Girl Scouting, a girl will cross a real bridge to be greeted by an older who presents her with her new uniform, which the troop provides.
“It helps that we have a real bridge with real water!” Becker said.
But before a Girl Scout can make that transition, she learns a lot under Becker’s care. They do badge work, such as one called Home Scientist, where they worked with slime – always a fun activity. They take field trips, sell cookies, go camping, and do community service. They’ve marched in local parades, and won a prize at Bennington Battle Day for a community organization, which the entire troop participated in.
Cookies help fund the troops’ many activities, and despite the pandemic, the troop had a very successful sale last year. Becker started small with organizing their fall product sale, a lesser known fundraiser by Girl Scouts, and, before she knew it, it was cookie season.
“We were one of three troops to do cookie booths, this past year,” she said. “We usually get two or three booths at Walmart, but we got more because we were one of the few troops to do it. “
She expressed her gratitude to the town of Bennington, which let her service unit borrow space at the fire department to store the cookies for sale, and the town’s forklift used to load them. There are also the parents who help make it all work.
The COVID-19 pandemic did make things difficult, forcing the Girl Scouts to meet outdoors for a while, then virtually. “It was touch and go,” Becker said. “We did what we could do.”
Just before the lockdown, she was able to bring women the troop considered to be courageous and strong together for a talk on women in history, and had a teacher, a Red Cross worker, and a firefighter.
Becker and her girls are looking forward to a rugged camping experience this month at Somerset Reservoir, where they will sleep in tents and even have to haul in their own water. Parents will accompany the youngest girls, and all will be using tents and cooking over a campfire.
“You do what their plans are,” she said. “Once I get an idea of what the girls want, I can be that teacher I wanted to be. It’s a creative outlet, too.”
Girls are welcome to join Girl Scouts any time of the year, and at any age. Participate by joining an existing troop, forming a new troop, or even as an individual member. Regular membership is just $40, and extended year membership through September 30, 2022, is $56, with financial aid available. See more at www.girlscoutsgwm.org.