PARKERSBURG - Girl Scout leader Tracy Murphy started as a co-leader of an outreach Girl Scout group for McKinley Elementary School students.
Murphy's Troop 1529 has grown to include 36 girls from Daisies (Grades Kindergarten to First Grade) to Cadets (Grades 6-8).
"She originally started out with an outreach troop, then broke off and became her own traditional troop. Now she has her own troop including the original girls. She does fundraisers, the girls do community service projects. She's like the perfect example of what Girl Scouts should be," said Marijo Tedesco, director of membership services with the Girl Scouts, Black Diamond Council, Parkersburg.
Front from left, Carlee Boyles, Rachel Murphy, Emma Gibson and Sadie Hazelett are shown with the thank you certificates they received for helping with a Thanksgiving dinner at a local church. At back from left, Troop members Anisa Hupp, Ana Collins
Photo by Pamela Brust
Parent and volunteers with Troop 1529 include Karen Wolfe, Tiny Murphy, Missy Scott, Rachel Hupp and Andrea Collins.
The Girl Scouts of the USA charters individual Girl Scout councils to deliver the Girl Scout Program to girls on a local level. The local Black Diamond Girl Scout Council was formed in 1974 when four councils merged.
Girl Scouts of Black Diamond Council serves more than 15,000 girls each year in 61 counties in West Virginia, Ohio, Virginia and Maryland. The council has 13 regional offices.
Originally, Murphy's troop met at the Children's Home Society when it was located next to the school. After it began to grow, it moved to the nearby St. Andrew United Methodist Church.
"We now have girls from first through seventh grades," said Murphy.
The troop includes her daughter Rachel, who was her motivator for getting more involved.
Tracy felt her daughter wasn't being offered enough opportunities to learn and grow.
"I used to be a preschool treacher, I really wanted to see my daughter, who is a straight A student be more involved. I had applied to be a leader, another lady got it, then I co-leadered for awhile. We got so large I started the separate group, then she left and I got the other girls in my troop as well," Tracy said.
Rachel said one of her favorite activities so far with the troop was a fall festival.
"We bobbed for apples and had games," she said. "I also liked the sock hop," Rachel said her grandmother helped her make her outfit for the 1950s style dance.
"We had a sock hop at a nursing, home, the kids were even helping those in wheelchairs get on the dance floor and they were pushing the wheelchairs around so they could be part of it," Tracy said.
"I like doing new things, it's fun," Rachel said.
Sadie Hazlett is looking forward to the troop's Barbie Party scheduled for later this month.
The "Be Anything, Do Everything" all things pink celebration will help the girls see the possibilities life has to offer them. Barbie has had more than 100 careers, and Tracy said she's lining up speakers including medical professionals, teachers, chefs, and others to talk to the girls about their professional lives.
Rachel Hupp, a parent and volunteer, said she's noticed her daughter has become more confident since becoming involved with the troop.
"I think it's really important the girls be involved with the community, and I like the random acts of kindness," she said.
The girls have been to nursing homes, prepared Thanksgiving dinner at a church, made cards for nursing home residents, collected food for food pantries.
Missy Scott said her daughter Kylee is having fun and the scouts provide the opportunity for her to meet new people.
"She likes doing volunteer work, she has the volunteer spirit," Scott said.
Andrea Collins' daughter Ana is a cadet and serves as a mentor to the younger girls in the group.
"Until we came to Parkersburg we had moved around a lot and she was never in the same school for very long, so when we came here she asked to join the Girl Scouts. She's been able to connect and make friends and feel she's a part of the community, she feels like she belongs," Collins said.
Tracy Wolfe said she's glad to see her granddaughter Sadie Hazelett have the opportunity to go out into the community.
"I think she enjoys being out and meeting people, seeing what's out there for her," Wolfe said. "She enjoys helping others."
The troop has been involved with a variety of projects to earn badges and, and at the same time, giving back to the community.
"We do our own fundraisers to help with the expenses. We had a yard sale and raised $1,300. I used that money to pay off the girls' registration fees, for sashes, badges, supplies. We used some of the funds to purchase craft supplies and books. I wrote a Walmart grant and got funds as well. I purchased games. We just keep growing, so I had to buy more books," Tracy said.
For fitness month, Tracy contacted the YMCA and the girls were able to swim in the pool there to earn their fitness badge. The troop has received help from the League of Women Voters, been involved with science projects, participated in martial arts and Zumba exercise classes. The girls gathered materials and put together first aid kits for their families. They've been camping, learned about nutrition, went bowling, sponsored food drives, worked on their first aid patch with firefighters and had a Christmas party.