By Sherrie Norris
There are summer vacations with the family — and then, there are summer trips with your friends. And if you are a local Girl Scout, you might be able to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Such was the case recently for several members of the Boone-based Girl Scout Troop 10492 who enjoyed a four-day trip to Chattanooga, Tenn., for a little fun and adventure.
June 16-19 was a special time for the girls and their chaperones who traveled by car to enjoy and explore the historic, enchanting town on the Tennessee River.
According to troop leader, Amber Mellon, after enjoying their first night in a downtown hotel, a visit to the Chattanooga Aquarium kick-started their adventures on the second day. A tour of the city included interesting sites such as the Chattanooga Choo-Choo and the Moon Pie Factory, followed by a dinner river cruise.
On the third day, the group bravely navigated the steep trolley-like Incline railway from Lookout Mountain to the Ruby Falls waterfall and Rock City, which they described as “a beautiful garden that has views of seven states.” They also visited Point Park atop Lookout Mountain, the site of a Civil War battle.
On their fourth and final day, they began their journey home, stopping along the way to take in the sights and sounds of the Knoxville Zoo, where the girls loved riding a camel.
When asked about their most favorite parts of the trip, the majority inevitably replied “the aquarium,” which was the main attraction that drew them to Chattanooga, Mellon said.
A trip such as this is important for the girls, for several reasons, Mellon stressed. “I believe in the importance of traveling to learn about other places, to have common experiences and to gain confidence. Through traveling, girls learn more about themselves as they gain different experiences to the ones that could have in Boone.”
They also learn more about the way other people live, she added, “And through that, they gain more respect for the other people in the world. Also, traveling is just fun!”
They plan and work hard for trips each year, alternating between “little trips and big trips,” she said.
Chattanooga is just the latest on an impressive list of interesting places the troop has visited, Mellon said. Others include Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington and Savannah.
Beginning last October, the girls started to explore ideas about where their summer travels would take them this year, Mellon said.
“It was to be a small trip year, so it had to be within about four hours, by car, of Boone,” Mellon shared. “In November, we had a final vote between Chattanooga and the beach, which would’ve been over the four-hour drive, but wouldn’t have require a lot of planning.”
“From there, the girls started to build upon a list of things they wanted to see. By February, I had a final big picture plan of where we would be staying, along with what we would be doing. A cost was given to the girls, which was offset by our annual cookie sales. We also received a $500 grant for my work helping to bring the JOIDES Resolution to the scouts of Boone. We did a car wash in June to offset any remaining cost.”
(Mellon added that the girls have also been saving from the cookie sales for a big trip before they graduate from high school, which will be a little while, yet.) “Plus, the troop covers the cost of all badges they earn and any money left over goes toward the trip.”
So, proving that hard work, diligence and planning ahead really works, four girls and five adults returned to Boone with memories to last a lifetime.
Troop 10492 consists of Cadettes, Seniors, and Ambassadors — middle schoolers and above — and welcomes new members to join the fun.
“Girl Scouting is important at the middle grades and above,” Mellon said, “as it helps to build your resume through the leadership experiences offered, the travel experiences offered, and the Silver and Gold Awards. It offers a place for girls to support each other, which is needed, especially at the high school level. Scholarships are also available through our cookie program.”
Any girl meeting the above criteria who is interested in becoming a Girl Scout is invited to email Amber Mellon at email@example.com.