Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Anchorage Forget-Me-Not Group Builds Bonds, Strengthens Ties

For a group of former and current Girl Scouts, the bonds they developed and nurtured over the years have led to lasting friendships. Known as the Forget-Me-Not Breakfast Group, these Anchorage-based women meet once a month to chat and reminisce. 

From left: Janice Baber and Joy Kutz. From right: Benita Colyar, Cheryl Lovegreen, and Mickie Pascar.  

The group was started by former GSAK (then Girl Scouts Susitna Council) Executive Director Marjorie Bailey upon her retirement in 1982. There are currently 20-plus members, "though not all the members come to every meeting - every time we meet, the group is different," member Janice Baber said. 

GSAK Communications Director Carly Horton Stuart attended the Sept. 19 Forget-Me-Not meeting. In addition to Janice, members Benita Colyar, Cheryl Lovegreen, Mickie Pascar, and Joy Kutz were present.

Benita is an original member of the group. She arrived in Alaska in 1954 and served as council president 1980-1984. Cheryl is a second generation Alaskan Girl Scout, having been a Girl Scout herself and later a troop leader with her mother. Cheryl's daughter, now grown, was also involved. "I started dropping in on the Forget-Me-Not group with my mom, and then I started coming on my own. These are all good people; there's not a bad one in the group. Since my mom passed away, these women have become like mothers to me," Cheryl said. 

Micki leads a Cadette troop in Anchorage. "I'm involved, my daughter was a Girl Scout and now leads a troop in Barrow, and my granddaughter is involved. That's three generations," Micki said. "My husband was even a registered member. For us, Girl Scouts has been something we can do as a family."

Joy's Girl Scout experience was also a family affair. Her father and husband were both members, and her daughter was a Girl Scout. In the early 1990s, Joy and her family were transferred to a military base in Germany where Joy led a troop of Brownies and Juniors. She also served as a Girl Scout trainer and age level consultant. "It was a different world," Joy said. "We didn't do cookie pre-sales, for instance - you just had to guess how many boxes you might need. Amazingly, we always managed to order the correct number of boxes!" 

Joy's travels have taken her to two of the four Girl Scout world centers: Pax Lodge in Hampstead Village, England, and Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland. (The other two world centers are in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Pune, India.) 

Cheryl, Micki, and Joy were all involved in Girl Scouts growing up and earned the organization's highest achievement. (The highest achievement is currently called the Girl Scout Gold Award, but it has been known in the past as the Golden Eaglet, Curved Bar, and First Class.) Unlike these three women, Janice was not a Girl Scout growing up. "I was actually recruited as an adult by another troop leader in Arizona. My son was always a tag along to Girl Scout events, which got him interested in Boy Scouts. I didn't have a daughter, but it was fun to be involved on my own," Janice said.  

Janice has attended every Encampment in Girl Scouts of Alaska history. She is known for leading "TLC" and "Craft Cash" activities. "I've made so many friendships in Girl Scouts," Janice said. "The Forget-Me-Not group is a way of ensuring those friendships last."

The Forget-Me-Not Breakfast Group meets the third Saturday of the month at Denny's Restaurant, 3850 DeBarr Road, Anchorage. For information or to get involved, contact Janice Baber at     





Thursday, October 24, 2013

Celebration and Tour of Camp Singing Hills

GSAK had a great turnout for our Camp Singing Hills celebration and tour! Girls, troop leaders, community members, and legislators - including U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Rep. Geran Tarr of Anchorage, and Rep. Bill Stoltze of Eagle River - helped make the day a success. 

  GSAK CEO Sue Perles (left) and Sen. Murkowski with Troop 690

The event was held 2:00-4:00 p.m. Saturday, October 19 at our 40-acre Camp Singing Hills property in Chugiak. Reporter Samantha Angaiak covered the event for KTUU Channel 2 News. Attendees enjoyed Girl Scout Cookies and hot drinks while they toured the camp. They also witnessed a flag ceremony conducted by Cadette Troop 407, were treated to a skit put on by Brownie and Junior Troop 690, and heard speeches by GSAK CEO Sue Perles, Singing Hills Capital Campaign Chair Jane Angvik, U.S. Sen. Murkowski, and Rep. Stoltze.  

Sen. Murkowski, a Girl Scout alumna and member of honorary Congressional Girl Scout troop Troop Capitol Hill, spoke to the girls about the importance of STEM education. Once completed, our 6,500-square-foot Singing Hills lodge will be fully wired for interactive distance learning and will serve as Alaska’s first STEM Center for Girls. Sen. Murkowski serves as honorary chair of GSAK’s Singing Hills Capital Campaign.

Camp Singing Hills lodge

In addition to the lodge, Camp Singing Hills will have four yurts and a shower house for year-round camping; two trail systems, plus camping locations and outdoor environmental education sites; and a waterfront area with canoe storage and an environmental education dock.

Saturday's celebration and tour launched the public phase of our capital campaign and accounted for more than 40 new donors. The primary structure on the Camp Singing Hills property was destroyed in 2009 by an act of arson. In 2010, project teams came together at Encampment to consult with girls, adult volunteers, and board members to determine the camp features and facilities that would best serve Alaska’s girls. 

From left: Michael Fredericks, president of RIM First People; Wayne Flesch of Cornerstone General Contractors; Jane Angvik, Singing Hills capital campaign chair; Bryce Klug of RIM First People; Lynda Zaugg, GSAK first vice chair; and Cricket Gartrell of ARCADIS. 

In 2011, the Alaska State Legislature appropriated $2.1 million to assist with Camp Singing Hills planning and development. With support from the State, and Sen. Murkowski as honorary chair, GSAK launched a $4 million capital campaign to rebuild Camp Singing Hills. In addition to the State of Alaska, we have received support from the Rasmuson Foundation, BP Alaska, ConocoPhillips Alaska, the Mat-Su Valley Health Foundation, and a host of community leaders. 

The rebuild of Camp Singing Hills is due to be completed by the end of 2014.Once completed, we expect the camp to serve 2,000 unique girls, attract 4,500 in-person girl visits each year, and reach many more girls employing interactive technology.

A big thank you to all those who turned out for our Camp Singing Hills celebration and tour!