BOW, NEW HAMPSHIRE | For Bow resident and former Girl Scout, Kate Ess, volunteering hasn’t just been a way to give back, it’s an opportunity to help guide girls to become the leaders of tomorrow. Ess’s ongoing dedication to the Girl Scout community is why she’s been named as Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains’ October Volunteer of the Month.
After moving from upstate New York to Bow, N.H., 10 years ago, Ess was thrilled to find a Brownie troop for her oldest daughter Jennie. A former Girl Scout herself, she wanted Jennie to experience the same benefits of scouting that she had enjoyed as a girl. “She had two wonderful leaders and I was so thankful for that,” Ess said.
With Jennie in second grade at the time and two little ones at home, Ess helped her with her daughter’s troop when and where she could, including at troop meetings from time to time, chaperoning a few of the troop’s field trips, and even volunteering at the troop’s annual camporee. Then, when the position became vacant, Ess stepped up to serve as Community Service Product Sales Coordinator finding it to be a good fit for her and her family.
“This is a critically important volunteer role, and Kate really took this position and ran with it,” said Robin Boyd, manager of Product Sales at Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
Ess has continued in the position for over eight years. “It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun. I enjoyed helping the other leaders and volunteers. Everyone was nice and easy to work with. Each time we wrapped up another successful season, it was a really good feeling.”
When her youngest daughter Maddie entered first grade, Ess was ready to start a Daisy Girl Scout troop. She paired up with Monica Mason, whom she met through a Girl Scout volunteer information session, and started a mixed-age level troop.
“There were a number of kindergartners interested in joining Girl Scouts, but no troops available for their grade level, so we took them,” she said. Just a few short weeks into the school year, the troop had blossomed to 15 girls, the largest one in Bow at the time. “We didn’t want to turn anyone away. Although we had two different grade levels, we made it work.”
Ess credits the success of the troop, in part, to the encouragement she and Mason received from their volunteer service coordinator, Sheila Johnson.
“Sheila was an outstanding person and mentor. She basically told me that there is no one right way to be a Girl Scout leader. She told me that the most important thing I could do was to guide these girls in becoming their best selves and to have fun with them.”
This fall marks Ess’s eighth year with Girl Scout Troop 20727. “We remain a very active troop, and these girls get along well with one another.”
In fact, the girls recently organized and hosted their fourth camporee in partnership with Hooksett Senior Girl Scout Troop 13906. “It’s been a lot of fun watching these girls grow as leaders over the years. They have done an outstanding job organizing and leading our community’s camporees,” she said, pointing out that nine of the troop’s girls earned their Bronze Award for their part in running a movie-themed camporee two years ago.
“I just really enjoy being with these girls,” she said. “They are very special to me. It’s an honor being another important, trusted adult in their lives, and I hope that they always know they can come to me if they need support.”
For those considering becoming a Girl Scouts volunteer, Ess stressed the importance of reaching out to fellow troop leaders. “You do your best and don’t be afraid to ask other leaders for help,” she said. “There are a lot of different ways to do this. Find your right way.”
Ess enjoys volunteering at school and church, in addition to her volunteer work with the Girl Scouts. She also enjoys reading, running, cooking, and spending time with her husband, four children, and very loved dog, Minnie.