MERRIMACK, NH| Mentoring girls to become the change-makers and leaders of their communities, along with helping new adult volunteers to learn the ropes, Meredith Campbell of Merrimack has proven herself to be a valued volunteer. Campbell has been named the Volunteer of the Month for August by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains.
Campbell, who also teaches math at Nashua High School North, is involved with two Girl Scout troops. She is the leader for Brownie Troop 10731, and is also involved with Junior Troop 13912, both in Merrimack. Girl Scout Brownies are girls in grades 2 and 3, while Juniors are girls in grades 4 and 5.
She was a Girl Scout for five years in elementary school, and very involved in her church youth group during middle and high school. Now, her adult life continues to be about service and children through her teaching job at the high school, teaching Sunday school, and being a Girl Scout volunteer.
“When my co-leader’s daughter decided to move away from Girl Scouts,” said Stacie Labore, who nominated Campbell, “even though she is already a troop leader for her youngest, she volunteered to co-lead with me for her oldest daughter. She is detail-oriented and fantastic at keeping ahead of plans.” Labore is the leader for the Junior troop Campbell helps with.
Planning and organization come naturally to Campbell, but she makes sure the girls have a strong voice in the decisions made. “We vote a lot!” she said. With new badges recently released, she said her Girl Scouts have voiced interest in the robotics badges. The girls voted unanimously to learn to ride horses this fall, and have also enjoyed doing the BeanStalk Adventure Ropes Course in Reading, Mass. They will use their cookie earnings to go riding, and for future activities.
Campbell said she always has her eyes and ears open for ways to get her Girl Scouts involved in the community, too. "Whenever we're doing Journeys or badge work, I try to think of how a guest speaker can come talk to the girls during a meeting or where our troop can take a field trip to visit and learn first-hand about an organization," she said. When they worked on the Girl Scout Philanthropy badge last fall, her second-year Brownies helped pack food bags for End 68 Hours of Hunger, a group that tries to fill the gap for the children who experience food insecurity between the time they get a free lunch in school on Fridays and the free breakfast they receive on Mondays. They also donated Girl Scout Cookies to End 68 Hours of Hunger.
Her troop has conducted food drives, and donated pajamas for the Pass Along Project, which provides needed clothing for children in foster care. Labore said Campbell also arranged for a Girl Scout alum to assist with the Outdoor Art Creator badge by making greeting cards using leaf rubbings, creating “fairy houses,” making music from nature, and taking nature pictures. She said that while earning their Pets badge, her second-year Brownies made no-sew cat beds and fleece dog toys, which they brought to Pets Choice in Merrimack, who then donated the items to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua. Her Girl Scouts also used cookie proceeds to buy pet food for a Take Action project, which they delivered to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua.
“She does so much and manages to stay organized and on top of things with two troops and busy home life, all while staying positive!” said Labore. “She's been an enormous help to me this year.”
Merrimack hosts an annual camporee at Wasserman Park, and Campbell said they love to participate in that. Older Girl Scouts plan activities, and her younger Girl Scouts enjoyed the cabin camping, games, crafts, and climbing wall they brought in last spring.
Helping other Girl Scout volunteers to be successful with their troops is important to Campbell, too. “I think that’s the teacher in me,” she said. She participates in monthly meetings with other Girl Scout troop leaders, and helps with the planning and education of new leaders. She said it’s important to form relationships with the other leaders at the monthly community meetings. “After the meeting, we find time to informally talk about what our troops are doing for different badges – giving advice. Establishing these relationships with younger troops is also good for when we then had six girls in the older Junior troop express interest in earning their Junior Aide Award. I was able to help coordinate dates and meeting activities because the relationship was already there,” she said. “Every time our troop does an activity, I’ll post a picture and contact information for the organization on our leaders’ Facebook page.”
She keeps the parents involved as well, asking them to volunteer their help with specific needs. “The parents in our troop are fabulous!” she said. Parents are active outside meeting times as well, helping as troop accountant, with the fall product and cookie sales, chaperoning, and more. "We plan stations - different activities for the Journey and badge work. I plan the activities out ahead of time and then I'll email the parents which station they're leading. They show up already knowing how to help to me and the troop."
She organizes guest speakers and field trips, and tries to get out of the meeting room as much as possible. And she says it’s all about the girls. “Our troop's experience is definitely girl-led. When starting a troop, listen to the girls' input and know their interests based on what badges they choose to complete. If my girls didn't want to continue participating in any particular activity or event, we wouldn't.” She finds that getting the troop out to events like camporees helps because they get to see the older Girl Scouts. “I love how the younger girls can see the older girls. They see the vests with all the badges, and they say ‘That will be me one day!’”
It’s all worth it, she said, to have these experiences with the girls and her own daughters. She urges anyone thinking of volunteering to “just do it!”
Campbell is an outstanding example of what it means to be a G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader)™, helping girls to become young women of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to name her its Volunteer of the Month.
About Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains: Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is recognized throughout New Hampshire and Vermont as a leading expert on girls. Our Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program for girls, with proven results. It is based on time-tested methods and research-backed programming that helps girls take the lead—in their own lives and in the world. Through our exciting and challenging programs, Girl Scouts not only participate but also take the lead in a range of activities—from kayaking, archery, and camping, to coding, robotics, financial literacy training, and beyond! Serving more than 10,000 girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont, girls discover the fun, friendship, and power of girls together. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org.