Many of the girls — all between 13 and 15 years old — have been Girl Scouts with the same group since they were 5 years old.
Elena Gonzalez, Anna Kiesser, Emma Roscoe, Terra Vaid, Kayley Vaid, Cari Woodward and Carmella Sensenig, all in eighth grade or high school, make up the only Cadette Girl Scout Troop in the Del Puerto Service Unit in Patterson-Newman area.
Sisters Terra, 15, and Kayley, 12, have been involved in the Girl Scouts nine and eight years, respectively.
“I like the opportunities to try new things, have fun experiences with other girls in my troop and being able to make a difference and help others in my community,” Terra said.
Her sister echoed her sentiments.
“One of my favorite reasons I like Girl Scouts is because I make new friends and experience new things,” Kayley said.
The girls, who have tackled making stepping stones and friendship beads and selling the traditional Girl Scout cookies, candy and nuts, have a tight bond among themselves and with their leaders.
“They love Girl Scouts with Miss Melinda,” Woodward said. “She has been there for those girls personally, and they can count on her. A lot of them feel more comfortable talking to her.”
Helping the Scouts make smart decisions and being responsible is part of what a leader does, Gonzalez explained.
“I’m glad I can be there for them,” Gonzalez said. “There are times they tell me serious issues, such as bullying or personal conflicts within our group. I make them confront the issues instead of running from it.”
The Cadettes were a part of the Hammon Senior Center grand opening, and they helped with the Patterson Parks and Recreation Department’s Skate the Circle gatherings until December 2008, when they had earned enough money for a trip to Disneyland. On the eight-day trip to Southern California, the troop visited Disneyland and Universal Studios, among other sites, and lived in a timeshare while planning their days out.
The Cadettes are also planning a trip this summer and researching their options.
“The girls have to take a trip-planning class for any long trips before they went to Disneyland,” Gonzalez said. “They also have to look at transportation, parking and other costs.”
The Girl Scouts have also been on mystery trips with various themes, including a vampire-themed camp in October.
They also help other Girl Scout leaders by hosting a meeting once a month for the younger girls in Daisy-Brownie Troop 3870. The older Scouts plan songs, games and a craft or activity.
When earning their Bronze Awards in 2007, the troop hosted a Petpalooza pet fair in downtown Patterson to advocate responsible pet ownership. Now, each girl is concentrating on her Silver Award, following up on an individual project.
“Each of the projects has to be independent of each other,” Gonzalez said. “Each project consists of 20 to 25 hours planning and the actual project itself. The leaders guide them, and they do it themselves. It’s their responsibility.”
The seven Cadettes are also learning how to quilt with help from volunteers at the Hammon Senior Center, including Gonzalez’s mother, Margie Martinez, whom the younger woman said is “very crafty.”
The seniors provide materials and sewing machines, and the girls and their mentors so far have made potholders and quilted them.
“I want the girls to be safe, be exposed to different things and participate in various things,” Gonzalez said. “They’re learning things they normally would not be exposed to.”
All the Scouts participate in youth groups at their churches and are top scholars at their schools.
Though one girl from the troop will move away from Patterson this summer, the group plans to remain close.
“They have made a pact they will meet once a year — something they are all planning to keep,” Woodward said.
• Contact Maddy Houk at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.