Lead the Way
On the eve of Girl Scouting’s 100th year in San Diego, we spoke with representatives from Rancho Bernardo Service Unit about the learning and leadership opportunities available for local girls. With over 900 youth and adult members in 92128, the service unit and troops fosters both independence and teamwork. It’s a girl-led movement, where Ambassadors and Seniors teach and inspire Daisies and Brownies. From camping and crafting to cookie sales and community service, read along to see how this worldwide movement is making a difference right here in Rancho Bernardo.
Rancho Bernardo Service Unit Q&A
Can you give us an overview of the history of Girl Scouts?
Mary Doyle, Girl Scouts San Diego Director of Communications: The preeminent leadership development organization for girls was founded in 1912, when women in the United States couldn’t yet vote. Juliette Gordon Low of Savannah, GA gathered 18 girls together to share what she had learned abroad about a new outdoor and educational program for youth. This nearly deaf 51-year-old sparked a worldwide movement inspiring girls to embrace their individuality, strength, and intellect. She envisioned an organization that would prepare girls to meet their world with courage, confidence, and character. Juliette and that first Girl Scout troop blazed trails, redefining what was possible for themselves and for girls everywhere.
When did Girl Scouting begin in San Diego?
Mary: Next year, local members will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Girl Scouting in San Diego. Headquartered in Balboa Park, Girl Scouts San Diego provides activities for 35,000 girl and adult members, trains volunteers, and maintains program and service facilities in Escondido and Carlsbad, as well as two camps near Julian. More than 900 girl and adult residents of 92128 are Girl Scout members.
What is the history of the Rancho Bernardo Service Unit? When was it started?
Sunny Jerome, Co-Service Unit Manager: The Rancho Bernardo Service Unit (RBSU) began in 1988, when the Rancho Verde Service Unit split into two service units, RBSU and Blue Sky (which is Poway). RBSU includes troops from RB, 4S Ranch, and St. Michael’s School.
What is your role within the service unit?
Sunny: I’m the co-service unit manager, and this is my third and final year at this position. I oversee meetings, events, planning, training, and more for the service unit and its members. I help plan the calendar for the year and make sure that troops sign up to help run the events. I also provide help and guidance along the way. I am now moving into the role as Older Girl Mentor to help troop leaders with older girls.
Pauline Tetlow, Co-Service Unit Manager: Co-service unit manager. This is the start of my second year in this role. I have served on the service unit team for three years now.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
Sunny: I enjoy seeing the girls try new things and find their passion. I also enjoy helping girls and leaders become connected to a Girl Scout service unit community. Our service unit offers badge workshops, service projects, and volunteer opportunities for girls so they can find out what areas they have of interest.
Pauline: I love being able to support the other troop leaders. It’s satisfying knowing that you can help more than your own troop.
At-A-Glance Co-Service Unit Manager
Name: Sunny Jerome
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Education: M.A. in Education
Family: Husband, daughter (13), son (12), and three dogs
Hobbies & Interests: Bike riding, hiking, camping, and hanging out with friends and family
At-A-Glance Co-Service Manager
Name: Pauline Tetlow
Community: Rancho Bernardo
Education: B.S. in Special Education
Family: Wife and mother of two girls
Favorite Girl Scouting Memory: When my girls did the reinvestiture ceremony at the beginning of the school year. We read a poem out loud, each saying two lines while we wrapped a string around our hand and passed the ball of string around the group. When we finished, we were all linked together in a circle. We then cut the string into pieces for each of us to keep, and used them to frame a group picture.
What was your motivation for becoming involved with Girl Scouts?
Sunny: I was a Girl Scout and have very fond memories. I once went to school sick because I didn’t want to miss my Girl Scout meeting, but I threw up and was sent home and missed it anyways.
I think Girl Scouts teaches girls how to be independent. One of my favorite memories is a girl telling me that she loved using the ax (to make kindling) and lighting the fires because her parents would never let her do this at home. I told her mom and then she made a point of letting her kids do the work and become more independent.
Pauline: My daughter said Girl Scouts sounded like fun, and my friend encouraged me to lead the group as I’m a teacher. I like the opportunity to teach my own daughters about character and community with their friends, so they learn how much a team can accomplish.
What is the overall mission of Girl Scouts?
Mary: The Girl Scout mission is to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who make the world a better place. Juliette Gordon Low believed in the power of every girl and helping her discover her strengths, passions, and talents. Through Girl Scouting, girls gain practical life skills, develop positive values, and learn to serve their communities.
What are some of the exciting plans this year for RBSU Girl Scouts?
Sunny: Our service unit provides annual events for the girls to participate in, including He and Me, Brownie Overnight, Brownie Spectacular, GS Caroling, Cookie Kickoff, Leader Daughter Event, Daisy Days, World Thinking Day, Encampment, and Older Girl Campout.
Pauline: My hope is to encourage a stronger sense of community between the troops in our area by holding more joint troop events and service unit-wide service opportunities. I think making older girls more visible to the younger girls can foster a sense of community, and continuity will keep the older girls in Scouts and inspire the younger scouts. Over the summer, we want to compile an online database of useful planning guides and templates for running events to make it less intimidating to host workshops or encampments. We hope to continue hosting all the fun yearly events, as well as adding activities specifically geared to older girls to keep their involvement in Girl Scouts strong.
At-A-Glance Rancho Bernardo Service Unit
What is the motivation for a girl to become part of a troop?
Sunny: Girls join a troop because they want to be with other girls that want to also be in Girl Scouts. They work together as a team and learn how to compromise, negotiate, lead, and co-lead. These are all important skills to have for school, work, and life. But we also have Juliettes, which are individual members. They can sign up for events, camps, etc., but do not belong to a troop. There are also clusters for girls in grades 6 through 12. As described at www.girlscouts.org: “Clusters are regional, girl-led groups of teen Girl Scouts (grades 6-12) and their adult mentors. Adults take a backseat and let the girls drive their own program. Teens plan and lead meetings (monthly, bimonthly, or whenever they want) and produce events for other teen girls throughout the year, including cluster encampments, service projects, and beach parties. Clusters are a fun way for all teens – newbies, Individual Girl Members, or girls in a troop – to take the reins!”
Pauline: The sense of belonging is strong for girls, and feeling useful to others and involved in the community makes us feel rooted and valuable. Girl Scouts gives girls a chance to belong not just to a classroom or school, but something beyond them and to connect with people not in their close circles of friends.
How does one join Girl Scouts?
Pauline: San Diego Girl Scouts have implemented a new online system for registering and finding a troop for new girls. The Opportunity Catalog makes it easier to find troops or interested girls in your area. It can really help troops to be formed of a greater variety of girls than just an immediate circle of friends. Girls can join at any level, and they can join as a troop or individual member.
At What grade level can girls participate in the program?
Pauline: Girls from kindergarten to high school can participate. Daisy Scouts are from kindergarten through first grade, Brownies from second through third, Juniors from fourth through fifth, Cadettes from sixth through eighth, Seniors are 9 through 10, and Ambassadors are 11 through 12.
Tell us about the various types of Girl Scout badges.
Pauline: There are so many! They cover a variety of topics from life skills to STEM, service, and leadership. There are plenty to choose from and something to interest everyone.
Sunny: There are Legacy Badges that are based on activities: Artist, Athlete, Citizen, Cook, First Aid, Girl Scout Way, and Naturalist. Girls or troops pick the badges that they are interested in. The activities are progressive, so girls can build on skills they’ve learned at each level. So when they earn the Cook Badge as Brownies, they’ll add to their experience when they earn the Cook Badge as Juniors all the way up to Ambassador.
There are Financial Literacy badges that help girls learn about money – how to make it, how to spend it, how to save it, and how to share it with others. There are also Journeys, which focus on identifying problems and implementing creative solutions.
RBSU By the Numbers
712 girls registered
3 Gold Award recipients in 2016
7 Silver Award recipients in 2016
55 Bronze Award recipients in 2016
Tell us about some of the recent achievements of your service unit’s members.
Pauline: One team member has just graduated her troop of Ambassadors this year. Her troop has been together since kindergarten and the girls are strong role models for all the scouts.
How has RBSU given back to the community?
Sunny: Over the years, we have collected items and supported the Helen Woodward Animal Center by making catnip toys, hosting a Remember Me Thursday event, walking in the Puppy Love 5K and then leading it in 2015, and decorating floats for the MardiPaws Adoption Parade. We’ve supported United Through Reading for our military who are deployed so they can read their kids a story by video while serving away.
Other programs we’ve supported include I Love A Clean San Diego, Feeding America, San Diego Humane Society, and YWCA’s Becky’s House, a domestic violence program. We’ve also spoken out to local troops about anti-bullying.
Are there any annual or upcoming events in which RBSU takes part?
Sunny: Spirit of the Fourth Parade in RB, Wreaths Across America, and flag raising at the San Diego County Fair.
Pauline: We always participate in the Spirit of the Fourth parade, and we are always on the lookout for opportunities to join in community events.
Does the Rancho Bernardo Service Unit need volunteers?
Sunny: Yes, we are always looking for volunteers. Go to www.sdgirlscouts.org and click on ‘volunteer.’
Pauline: New leaders are always welcome. There are often girls looking for leaders to form troops.
If you could have one wish for the service unit this year, what would it be?
Sunny: More time. Between school, sports, and family, everyone seems to be too busy. It’s nice to see girls give back to their community and spend time in nature.
Pauline: We have a great team of women who really care about reaching beyond their own troops to help the Girl Scouts community. My wish would be to find other caring parents to join the team and continue to support all girls.
If you had to describe Girl Scouts in five words, what would you say?
Sunny: Making the world a better place – ok, six words!
Pauline: Fun, community, rewarding, team spirit, and friendship.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sunny: I really like that girls can sign up for workshops, camps, and training by themselves or with their troop. My entire troop does not want to go backpacking, but my daughter really wanted to try it. We signed up and she completed the training and trip. She loved it and met more friends who enjoy doing the same things that she enjoys. She is now signing up for one of the advanced backpacking trips, which lasts a week, and has some friends who she will see there. She’s also going to mentor girls in the training classes and basic backpacking trip. I love how it’s girl-led. She’s going from the trainee to the trainer. This is why I love Girl Scouts.
In Her Words
“I always love it when we go camping, and I absolutely love it when we do community service. There was this one time when we made and donated tied blankets to Catholic Charities, and we also donated supplies to a preschool in a homeless shelter. Doing that made me feel really good inside. Selling cookies is also really awesome. My troop also recently received our religious award, called I Live My Faith. That was a really amazing experience.” – Emily Entwistle, Junior, Troop 2856
“I’ve learned in Girl Scouts how to make time for things I care about, like how my troop and I have planned multiple encampments for younger girls; how to take care of the earth; and how to be a good leader and role model for others. By selling cookies, I’ve learned how to talk to people, salesmanship, and facing rejection. I know how to make people aware of certain issues, such as children with hair loss, toiletries for homeless women, and pets needing to be adopted.” – Celeste Jerome, Cadette, Troop 8804
“I really like going to Girl Scout workshops. We play games and make things, and had a lock-in where we stayed up until 11 at night. We made SWAPS and went out to the parking lot at night to play games. My troop did a hike for leaders and daughters, and rock climbing for dads and moms and their kids. We just did Daisy Days for the younger girls, and we taught them how to make a worm composting bin. They thought it was kind of gross to touch the worms, but it was a lot of fun singing songs with them. They liked making SWAPS.” – Anna Tetlow, Brownie, Troop 2184
“We have seven girls in our troop. Four of us, including me, have been in the troop since first grade. My mom is the leader. I learned through Girl Scouts that it is good to keep our environment clean, and that you should leave a place better than you found it. Also, that each Girl Scout is our sister, and we should extend our sisterhood to all girls.” – Lauren Mascardo, Junior (bridging to Cadette), Troop 8857
“I’ve learned how to keep people safe when camping – wear long sleeves and pants to avoid getting poison ivy. My favorite memories are sleeping overnight on the Midway under a plane, giving to Ava’s Angels and the Humane Society, and selling cookies, because you get to eat them and earn money!” – Carrye Bramble, Brownie, Troop 2187