It was a perfect Saturday (Sept. 14) for scouting as hundreds of young ladies gathered at Burnham Woods in Fort Smith for the Girl Scouts "Back-to-school Kick-off.”
Organized by the Fort Smith council, the carnival-themed event was free and open to scouts and non-scouts alike.
Throughout the afternoon, girls ranging in age from 5-17, made crafts, conducted science experiments, and explored the camp grounds. The ladies also made their way around the carnival booths, which included balloon pops, fishing games and a scavenger hunt.
True to the carnival theme, families dined on hot dogs, chips and cotton candy. Participants roasted their own marshmallows for s'mores, a traditional Girl Scout treat, at the environmentally-friendly sterno stations.
Girl Scouts staff and volunteers were on-hand to help answer questions about the organization. Parents were encouraged to attend to learn more about the program and the unique opportunities that scouting offers. Before leaving, children were given the chance to sign-up for a troop.
"The purpose of this event is to offer a sample of Girl Scouts and to give girls the opportunity to sign up at the beginning of the school year," said Marian Conrad, vice-president of Communications and Strategic Alliances for Girl Scouts-Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
"I am very excited," said nine year-old Julia Edwards, who signed up as a Girl Scout for the first time on Saturday. "I can't wait to get started!"
Girl Scouts' mission is to build "girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place." The national organization has existed for 101 years and boasts membership of more than three million.
A member of the Diamonds of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas Council, the Fort Smith Regional Council serves more than 1,300 girls and includes 600 adult volunteers. Girls can enroll as "Daisies" beginning at five years-old and work their way up to "Ambassadors" as juniors and seniors in high school.
"This is our largest recruitment event of the year," said Kara Kinder, Girl Scout Membership and Marketing Specialist. "Back to school is when we do our primary push for enrollment."
Similar events were held throughout the state, including in Jonesboro, Little Rock and Texarkana and Fayetteville.
Students interested in participating in Girl Scouts can sign-up online at this link, or may visit their local council office. For more information, call 479-452-1290.