Tonya Williams mentors multi-level troop with creativity and passion
LUNENBURG, VT – A large troop of Girl Scouts are lucky to have a dedicated, creative, and organized leader to give them the best possible Girl Scout experience. Tonya Williams is one of the women leading this group, and she has been chosen as the Volunteer of the Month for August by Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains, the council serving Girl Scouts across Vermont and New Hampshire.
Williams, 37, of Lunenburg, has led Troop 30356 for eight years, assisted by co-leaders Jessica Simonds, Meagan Johnson, Georgianna Losh and Shawnee Losh.
“Tonya leads the Cadette girls, always listening to what the girls want to earn. She is organized and creative when planning activities,” said Simonds. “She works full time and still manages to accomplish Scouting! Tonya is a go getter - when setting her mind to a task, (she’s) a real leader we can count on!”
Keeping the girls interested is also one of her talents. With a troop ranging from the youngest Daisies (kindergarten and first grade) to Ambassadors (11th and 12th grade), the troop has varied skills and desires.
“The cool thing with our troop,” she said, “is we, as leaders, don’t want to get bored either! And we don’t like to bore the girls. So, we are constantly coming up with new things. We rarely repeat things. Like, we do camping every year, but we do it differently - backyard camping, a sleep over in the school's multipurpose room, at a campground, and one at a friend’s off-grid camp in the woods. We’ve done powder puff derbies, pumpkin derbies, camping every year. We’ve done field trips to Santa’s Village, Clark’s Trading Post, hiking, a Mother’s Day tea, glow parties.”
They have yearly activities like making Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving cards for nursing homes, and sometimes make Thanksgiving food baskets for local families. They are often involved in Old Home Day with the parade, as well as providing games and food. The Girl Scouts love to help provide activities for children during the gingerbread bazaar, and this year learned how to make a quilt square, entering the local quilt contest.
COVID-19 didn’t slow them down either, she said, participating in a gnome paint-and-sip, and a Christmas light scavenger hunt. Some also did a “bear hunt,” where residents put a teddy bear outside they had to find. They also had a virtual cupcake war, movie night meetings, a birthday parade, and outdoor meetings.
Williams became involved in Girl Scouts when her oldest daughter was a second-year Daisy, and took on a leader role the following year. Now her daughter is a sophomore in high school who has earned so many badges and patches her uniform vest is full. Her Girl Scouts are often involved in community service projects, and on their way to earning Girl Scouting’s highest honors, the Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards.
The Bronze Award, available to Girl Scout Juniors in grades 4 and 5, was earned recently by refurbishing the local community food shelter, and the troop also helped provide new picnic tables for the town’s Old Home Day. They’ve collected socks for a local homeless shelter organization, participated in Green Up Day, and helped with the local Halloween Trick or Trunk. One combined Bronze and Silver Award project involved creating an outdoor play area for Lunenburg Elementary School, which included a kitchen area, playhouse, barn/farm play table, water wall, and a music wall. This year, the Girl Scouts are working toward their Silver Award by creating owl nesting boxes. Next year they will aim for Gold with individual projects in high school.
“My youngest daughter is working on her Silver project,” she said, “which is owl nesting boxes, and part of that process, as she’s doing it independently, was showing other sister Scouts how to build them.”
For this teacher’s aide at Concord School, it’s all about the kids. She said it’s fulfilling to be a mentor.
“It really is to make a difference in the world and to make the world a better place,” she said. “It's community based, and teaching young ladies to become involved in their communities and to have a say. There's a sense of happiness in the heart to help others and to be kind.”
Williams encourages anyone thinking of finding that same fulfillment to consider Girl Scouts.
“It’s a great place to be,” she said. “You’re helping young girls find a voice.”
Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains appreciates all that Tonya Williams has done for her Girl Scouts, and is proud to call her our August Volunteer of the Month.
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Girl Scouts of the Green and White Mountains serves girls throughout New Hampshire and Vermont through volunteer-run troops, events, and virtual programs. Visit www.girlscoutsgwm.org to learn more.