Living the Girl Scout way all her life.
DERRY, NH – Her enthusiasm is infectious, her drive is unstoppable, and her dedication to Girl Scouting runs deep. Because of her commitment to girls and Girl Scouts, Susan DiSalvo has been named Volunteer of the Month for August by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving girls across New Hampshire and Vermont.
DiSalvo, 54, of Derry, has been a Girl Scout troop leader for decades, guiding girls from kindergarten to high school with her own special mix of tradition, joy, and leadership.
“I’ve always wanted to be a leader, even when I was younger,” she said.
She credits her co-leaders, Michele Fontaine and Chris Haswell, for helping her keep the troops active and happy.
“Sue always has a smile on her face,” said Fontaine. “She is willing to help support her Girl Scouts no matter what.”
Fontaine listed DiSalvo’s many contributions – leader, community volunteer, camporee organizer, workshop leader, trainer, camper. “Sue is a true Girl Scout. She lives her life by the (Girl Scout) law and is always there to help a fellow leader or Girl Scout. She loves the outdoors and helps to bring her love of camping to our troop.”
Council member DeeDee Rice has known DiSalvo for 12 years, and said DiSalvo is always smiling. “She is genuinely full of joy and makes everyone around her feel the same way. She loves to have fun,” said Rice. “Sue embodies the Girl Scout way of life for herself and her girls, and her enthusiasm for Girl Scouts is evident by the overwhelming retention of her girls, and by her commitment to them and her peers.”
Rice said DiSalvo has held several positions over her years as a volunteer, including troop leader, service unit manager/volunteer support coordinator, and council trainer. Rice said having “Sue, as a Girl Scout volunteer, only strengthens our council.”
Currently, DiSalvo (“Ms. Sue” to her girls) leads Troop 13966 in Derry, a group of 9th- and 10th-grade Girl Scout Seniors. The girls have been together since 2011, and over the years have visited Boston, participated in community service projects like collecting teddy bears for the local fire station to give to kids and sewing dresses for needy girls through the Dress A Girl project, and keeps Girl Scout history and traditions alive.
“We’re a very traditional troop,” she said, “so I try to harp on traditions. We do flag ceremonies, we always do the promise and law, and a lot of Juliette Low stuff,” referring to the founder of Girl Scouts.
She encourages her girls to get outdoors, going to camporees and taking on a trip to Acadia – having fun despite a rainy few days.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, DiSalvo thought the troop would want to take a break from virtual meetings over the summer, but the girls chose to keep going. “A couple girls said ‘We’re still not really going out and doing anything, can we meet every other week?’” she said. They play games and do 30-second mysteries, and even finished up their Trees badge. “We did a Zoom call with a UNH arborist – so we learned a lot and finished the badge.” They were also a pilot troop for Girl Scouts’ space science badges last year and were excited to see if they could find the comet recently visible in our night sky.
Canoeing, kayaking, and camping are big for DiSalvo, whether with her Girl Scouts or her family. “Camping is my favorite thing,” she said. “We have a trailer, with pop-out sides. We’ve traveled around the country.” They have even followed her husband as he has done charity bicycle rides – first the length of New Hampshire, then from Maine to Florida, and ultimately from Seattle to New York.
She’s an active member of the Girl Scouts Alumnae Association, and has taught workshops at the annual alum gatherings at Camp Farnsworth in Vermont. “Girl Scouts is huge with me,” she said. “It’s the biggest part of my life. My family teases me about it all the time. I’m kind of the dorky leader, always want to have my pins on!”
The mother of four children ranging in age from 14 to 28, she is also in business for herself with Old Nutfield Pet Sitting. But it’s Girl Scouting that fills much of her life. She sees how girls gain new skills, become more confident and able to navigate the world.
“I had one girl who was deathly afraid of heights,” DiSalvo said. “We went to the YMCA in Goffstown to do the high ropes course. All the other girls are cheering her. She’s crying but gets to the top, and walks across the high rope to the next tree. She came down and she was so proud of herself! The girls were incredible! That’s what I see is girls doing things they didn’t think they could do, and their friends encouraging them. Girl Scouts is a safe space. We try to make our troop as safe a space as possible.”
And DiSalvo herself gets great joy from the girls’ progress. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it! It’s a lot of fun.”
Volunteers like Susan DiSalvo are at the heart of Girl Scouting. She has touched countless lives and helped make the world a better place, mentoring girls to become young women of character, courage, and confidence. Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains is proud to call her the Volunteer of the Month for August.
It’s easy to join Girl Scouts, whether as an adult volunteer or a girl from kindergarten through 12th grade. Be a G.I.R.L. – Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-taker, Leader™! To learn more, see www.girlscoutsgwm.org.
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.