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Girl Scout canoe team takes first in relays at New York competition

The Swift Water Paddlers is a Girl Scout team that won their competitions at the General Clinton Canoe Regatta over Memorial Day weekend. From left are Marissa, Hannah, Leila, Healey, Emily, Megan, and Natalie. Behind them are coaches Stephanie Matte, Sonya Rousseau, Megan Cook, Kate Shaffer, and Erin Balcom. (Courtesy photo)

The Swift Water Paddlers also raced in Wolfeboro, NH

BAINBRIDGE, NY – They’re a force of nature – one that couldn’t be beat in a canoe relay over Memorial Day weekend. The Swift Water Paddlers of Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains worked hard and took first place in their competitions at the General Clinton Canoe Regatta in Bainbridge.

The team consist of middle school and high school-age Girl Scouts who have been practicing their skills at Camp Kettleford in Bedford, NH, since the end of March.

“The water levels were somewhat shallow in New York, said coach Megan Cook,” which causes slower paddle times because of the weak river current, but we are well equipped for those conditions since we typically paddle in a pond with no current when we practice! We competed in the six-girl 15-mile relay.”

With just four girls, the two who paddled the first leg of the relay also paddled the third leg of the relay. In the four-girl 10-mile relay, three girls competed, with one of the paddlers who did the first leg also paddling the second with a different partner.

“Before the start of the regatta, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it,” said Leila Whitney, 13, of Milford, NH, “but once we got to the switch point, not only did we do better than I thought, but I realized I could do the whole distance. I learned not to underestimate yourself."

“I enjoy being part of a canoe team with other Girl Scouts because it is a fun experience canoeing and meeting other girls,” said Natalie Faucher, 12, of Milford, NH. “I really enjoy the races because I see my hard work pay off. I like seeing other Girl Scouts on other teams at the races because although we are competing, we all enjoy the same thing.”

“We were able to start a week sooner than usual due to a quick pond thaw during the warm weather in mid-March,” said Cook. “We had a couple really chilly practice days - low 50s - and some much warmer than usual days - mid 80s. All team members were able to race in the Smith River race in Wolfeboro, as well as the General Clinton race in New York. All boats made it successfully through the stretch of whitewater rapids in Wolfeboro!”

“Being on the Swift Water Paddlers has taught me to push past limits when I didn’t know it was possible,” said Leila. “I appreciate that everyone on the team chooses to be there and gives their best. Also, the coaches are more than just coaches, they are our teammates. They are encouraging, fun and all-around good people.”

“The season was great!” said Cook. “We had a small team, but we are hoping for some strong recruitment next season. We had two girls graduate from high school this year, so we have just five prospective paddlers for next season. Plenty of space for eight-10 new paddlers next spring.”

Along with Natalie and Leila, the Swift Water Paddlers include Emily Overhulser, 18, of Londonderry; Megan St. Germain, 17, of Londonderry; Hannah Hebert, 18, of Manchester; Haeley McCullough, 16, of Derry; and Marissa Matte, 14, of Merrimack.

Whether exploring nature, climbing a rock wall, camping in a tent, or taking on a canoe competition, Girl Scouts encourages girls to discover the best version of themselves and take chances in a nurturing environment. Learn more about Girl Scouts at

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