SHIRLEY — When Sue McCarron and Michele Straitiff sought to find a Girl Scout troop for their daughters, Jeanne and Shaunessy, they had no idea what they were getting into.

“We were trying to get them enrolled and there were no Junior (fourth-, fifth-grade) troops taking new members. Michele didn’t have time to run a troop by herself, so I went to the essentials training and Michele went through the volunteer training, and the service unit leaders kept encouraging us to become leaders.”

Straitiff and McCarron soon teamed up as co-leaders of Shirley Girl Scout Troop 75238, and found two other girls to join them.

“Then I went to cookie training right before the cookie sales and met the three Daisy (kindergarten-first grade) leaders, and they are all brand new, too. So we were all brand new leaders and we asked each other questions.”

At one of the training workshops, McCarron learned about Girl Scout investiture and rededication ceremonies. An investiture ceremony is held to welcome new members, girls or adults, into Scouting for the first time. Rededication follows after investiture and allows Girl Scouts to renew their Girl Scout promise and review what the Girl Scout Law means to them.

McCarron became so interested in the ceremonies that she asked veteran Shirley Scout leader Kathy Bourassa for more information, and discovered that in addition to the Junior and Daisy troops, there is also a Cadette/Senior troop (seventh through 12th grade) led by Bourassa, her husband Gary, daughter Kim, and others, and that Amy McDougall and Jennifer Scheufele are co-leaders of a large Shirley Brownie troop (second and third grade).

“I just wanted to do an investiture ceremony for my girls and us, and I decided it would be cool to have a combined ceremony and have the girls of different ages work together, which they have to do for badges anyway,” said McCarron. “So that is how I got the Seniors involved. Kathy and Kim gave me a bunch of input into how to do the ceremonies and then we got the Daisies involved and they suggested that the Brownies also join us.”

Soon 14 leaders and volunteers, musical guest Andy Sullivan, Shirley Historical Society Museum Curator Meredith Marcinkewicz, two Nashaway Service Unit coordinators, 36 Daisies, Brownies, Cadettes, and Seniors were gathered together in the Center Town Hall for a ceremony celebrating the building of girls’ “courage, confidence and character.”

The Investiture and Rededication of Shirley Girl Scouts took place Jan. 14. Participating troops were Daisy Troop 65233, Junior Troop 75238, Brownie Troop 73497, and Cadette/Senior Troop 68900.

McCarron first introduced Kathy Bourassa, who relayed that 100 years ago, Juliette Gordon Low, of the Girl Scouts of the USA, held the first Girl Scout troop meeting in Savannah, Ga., on March 12, 1912.

“In those days,” said Bourassa, “girls didn’t do the things we do today. You learned how to be a homemaker. She taught girls those things, but also taught them about the outdoors and the possibility of having careers.”

“When I was a girl, we did things like sleepovers and arts and crafts,” she continued. “But we also went every week to a nursing home. We’d bring them presents and make them cards. It taught me a lot about giving back to my community and helping other people. ”

The ceremony

After reciting the Girl Scout Promise, the younger Scouts took turns creating GORP, (Good Old Raisins and Peanuts), but with a modern-day twist. To demonstrate what goes into being a Girl Scout, each pair of girls shared the symbolism of their contribution to the sweet concoction, and poured it into a large bowl.

Gradually, the bowl was filled with all sorts of goodies representing the diversity, fairness, friendliness, energy, humanity, and dedication of Girl Scouts around the world. “In it we can see ourselves,” concluded Junior Troop co-leader Straitiff.

In the candlelight rededication portion of the ceremony, the room was darkened as each girl lit a candle. “What would the world be like if we stopped serving God and our country?” asked McCarron, as she blew out the first candle.

“What would the world be like if we stopped helping people in need?” asked the first Scout, who then blew out her candle.

As the Scouts took turns asking what the world would be like if they abandoned the Girl Scout Promise and Girl Scout Law, they blew out their candles, one by one. Then, as each girl made a commitment to uphold the tenets of the GSA, they relit their candles, and the lights were turned back on.

In the bridging ceremony, each young Scout walked over the gaily decorated bridge to symbolize her journey from one level of Girl Scouting to the next. Upon completing the journey, each Scout received a pin and/or a certificate from the Cadettes and Seniors, and had her pin turned upside down.

“The Girl Scout slogan is, ‘Do a good turn daily.’ For the girls, this means doing something for somebody else without being asked. It is fun to brighten someone’s day by doing a good turn, and when you make other people happier, they often pass it on by doing a good turn for someone else,” said McCarron.

“We encourage any adult who sees our girls ‘doing a good turn’ to place their pin right side up!” she explained.

The event concluded with Sullivan playing guitar, as all of the Scouts and their leaders joined hands in a friendship circle and sang “Make New Friends.” The girls then enjoyed their community snack of cereal, pretzels, Craisins, butterscotch chips, raisins, and other goodies.

After the service, McCarron said that she and the other leaders look forward to future collaborations, including camping trips. “It’s nice to have the combined resources to do things together,” she said.