It was a usual morning in Bellingham Square and the usual crowd there was doing their usual thing.
That was, until a group of Chelsea Girl Scouts showed up and began selling cookies and brightening up the Square with their laughter and smiles.
The usual crowd didn’t know what to make of it.
The girls, though, had no problem and began attracting positive attention at a very clipped pace.
“We even sold cookies in Bellingham Square,” said Troop co-leader Maria Teixeira. “The regular crowd didn’t know what to make of us, but we hung in there and it gave the Square a nice image. The girls did a great job.”
Added Troop founder and co-leader Eileena Teixeira, “It was early in the morning and I wasn’t sure we should be there at first, but then I said, ‘Yea, we should be here,’ and it went off great. The girls loved it and so did everyone else.”
Yet, the new Chelsea Girl Scout Troop isn’t just turning up in the Square, they’re turning up all over the City, completing service projects at the Soldier’s Home, raising funds with cookie sales and giving talks in the schools. There hasn’t been a Troop in Chelsea for quite some time, with all the previous Troops dying out many years ago. The new Troop, made up of about 15 girls between the ages of five and 11, started only about one year ago, but is quickly gaining headway with local girls.
Eileena said that she was never a Girl Scout, but thought it might be a nice activity for her young daughter.
“My daughter had just turned six and last year I was looking for an activity to put her in and I came across the Girl Scouts,” said Eileena. “For the past 10 to 12 years they didn’t have a Troop in Chelsea and they worked with me to start one here. Girl Scouting is an excellent activity and it really piqued my interest, especially for young girls today…Girl Scouts does seem to be growing and on the move and it’s a wonderful activity.”
She said that to this point the girls have responded well and so have the City and the schools.
“When we were out doing our community service project, there were people who used to run Girl Scout Troops in Chelsea coming up to us and telling us about their experiences,” said Eileena. “Everyone has been really supportive of us in every way.”
However, it’s not just the locals who are excited about the new venture. The New England Council of the Girl Scouts said that they are particularly excited that Chelsea has revived its Troop. In addition to the existing Troop, they said that a Troop for younger girls is just now starting at the Early Education Center in the Chelsea Schools.
“We’re really putting an emphasis on giving the Girl Scout experience for the girls of Chelsea,” said Stacy Wilbur, a spokesperson for the Girl Scouts. “We’re really excited about this Troop because this is another footprint where we really want to grow membership. There are a lot of opportunities in Chelsea and we feel the Girl Scouts are a great opportunity for girls there. We’re building future leaders and we want all girls everywhere to benefit from that.”
So far, that’s been happening in a very natural way.
The girls meet every Monday evening in the Chelsea Boys & Girls Club.
They go over trips and service projects, they talk about their lives and they recite the Girl Scout pledge. More than anything, they laugh and have quite a bit of fun.
Eliza Caraballo and her young daughter, Victoria Iraola, just recently joined and Caraballo said they are having a great time.
“My daughter saw it on the television and said she wanted to go to Girl Scouts,” said Caraballo. “It’s really fun. The parents don’t want to leave when we drop them off. We play games with them and my daughter likes it.”
Maria Valles said her daughter, Iliana Vidal, has been involved since around November, and surprisingly, she looks forward to meetings and events.
“One of my friend’s daughters is in the Troop and I didn’t think my daughter would be interested, but she wanted to join,” said Valles. “I’m glad she did. She wasn’t very outgoing, but she’s really come out of herself and is much more outgoing. I am glad the Girl Scouts are back in Chelsea. I always wanted to be a Girl Scout and never got to be one, so I’m glad my daughter gets to.”
At this past Monday’s meeting, the girls were planning their trip to Cocoa Keys Water Park this Friday – a reward they’re getting for selling more than 1,500 boxes of cookies this past winter and spring.
As they talked about the trip, they made up a list of rules and safety procedures, and discussed what would happen if anyone stepped outside of those guidelines.
In a time when young girls and older girls are subjected to negative and degrading messages in the media and in society, such positive messages provided by the Girl Scouts seem to really be in vogue. Girls and their mothers are craving opportunities to show their daughters that there is more out there for girls than what is reflected on MTV, in pop culture and in the movies. That’s a point that particularly needs emphasis in Chelsea and other urban areas.
The message isn’t lost on the Chelsea Troop, who at the conclusion of each meeting, gathers in a circle and – one at a time – offers a compliment to another girl or to a leader. As they beam smiles at one another, it’s obvious that the activity is a real confidence booster for the young girls.
And of course, that is followed by a big group hug known as the ‘Girl Scout Squeeze.’
“One of the goals of Girl Scouts is to equip girls with character and confidence,” said Eileena. “The activities and badges, they help to build up their confidence and to accept diversity. We have a diverse group in age and everything else. They learn to get along with each other…It helps create more women leaders and stronger – as they get older – young women and women in general.”
Anyone interested in Girl Scouting in Chelsea should contact Eileena Teixeira at (978) 210-4230 or attend one of their meetings on Mondays at the Boys & Girls Club.