CARIBOU, Maine — Nearly 150 Girl Scouts filled the Caribou Wellness and Recreation Center on May 18 for a countywide sleepover and International Food Festival to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Girl Scouts of the USA.
During the opening ceremonies, event organizer Theresa Dube mentioned how founder Juliette Gordon Low would be proud to see that the Girl Scouts organization had come so far.
“She believed girls can do anything boys can do, and she was right,” Dube said.
The evening’s opening ceremonies began with the posting of the colors, followed by a parade of flags featuring the countries Scouts chose to represent during the International Food Festival. After the Pledge of Allegiance was recited, followed by the Girl Scout Promise, Caribou scouts sang “We Are the World.”
After the ceremony, Scouts made their way into the multipurpose room at the rec center to dine on cuisine from Italy, Mexico, China, Romania, Jamaica, Ireland, Sweden, Germany and, of course, the U.S.A., getting stamps on their special passports for each country they visited.
Parent volunteers and troop leaders served unique cultural dishes from their represented countries to the Scouts, as well as little trinkets from each nation. These “SWAPS” trinkets (Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere) were often immediately fixed to the bucket hats each Scout was provided.
The evening also included a campfire singalong around a deceptively fake campfire, created by County Stove Shop for the indoor event.
“I liked the campfire singalong because everyone was so excited about it and they sang for a half hour straight,” Dube said, adding that the only reason the Scouts stopped singing was because the s’mores were ready.
The Scout-favorite aspect of the evening may have been the face painting provided by Nicole Spencer, co-leader of Troop 1092.
“Honestly, the girls loved everything, but I think face painting was the absolute hit,” Dube said. Between the inklike paint and Spencer’s artistic skills, Scouts were repeat customers at the face-painting booth, which had Spencer painting from 9 p.m. until midnight.
“Kids were even getting their legs and arms painted,” Dube said.
Though official events concluded after the campfire singalong at 10:30 p.m., Scouts were up all hours of the night enjoying the 100th anniversary celebration (thus making the “sleepover” aspect of the evening a bit of a misnomer).
“The Scouts were really excited to be a part of something so big,” Dube said, adding that even the littlest Scouts were beaming with excitement at odd hours of the early morning. “They understood the significance of the event, and so did the adults.”
Dube had mentioned in her opening ceremony speech that an event like this only happened once a lifetime, and Scouts spent every minute enjoying celebration.
Event organizers also had adorned a wall in the main hallway with lists and photos featuring famous Scouts — even local celebrities.
“They liked seeing all the famous women that were Girl Scouts, and they liked seeing pictures of their teachers up on the wall, too,” Dube said
While sleepovers are known for their silliness and fun, the youngsters also exuded many attributes Scouting promotes during the nightlong event.
“It was nice to see the older girls helping out the younger girls, and it was nice to see the little girls put smiles on the older girls’ faces,” said Girl Scouts of Maine Membership Manager of Aroostook County Wendy Burtchell. “It’s a good reminder for the older girls as to why they first started with Girl Scouts when they were little.”
In keeping with the spirit of “make new friends but keep the old,” ladies from different Aroostook troops commingled throughout the evening and enjoyed each other’s company.
Dube and other leaders of the Diamond Service Unit (including the Greater Caribou, Limestone, Van Buren and Fort Fairfield areas) began planning the 100th anniversary celebration last September.
“Interest in Scouting is definitely growing, even in the older girls,” Dube said, mentioning that a huge number of the Diamond Service Units’ Scouts are from Teague Park and the Caribou Middle School.
Interest in Scouting even exceeds the amount of leaders, and dozens of girls are stuck on a waiting list until a new troop opens up.
“We could have so many more Girl Scouts if we had more leaders,” said Dube, herself a leader of multiple troops.
The next big Scouting event is a Highlighter Dance fundraiser on June 1, open to fifth- through eighth-graders from Caribou, Woodland and New Sweden.
The black-light Highlighter Dance will be held in the multipurpose room and the gymnasium will be split in two to accommodate usage of the rec’s large inflatable obstacle courses and dodge ball games.