On a chilly, overcast day at Jefferson Hunt Elementary in San Bernardino, CA, a diverse group of girls gather after school to participate in the state-funded CAPS (Creative Afterschool Programs for Success). All CAPS programs aspire to "enhance each student's academic, social, and emotional development," by providing guided before-school and after-school programming.
Jefferson Hunt's CAPS program allows students to enjoy of a wide variety of activities immediately after the academic day has ended, releasing parents from the worry of arranging transportation. On some days, the activities can run as late as 6:00 p.m.
Different options are offered to meet the varied interests of the kids; for athletes there are sports like soccer, baseball, flag football and softball, while scrapbooking, dance or singing lessons are available to students interested in the creative arts.
This year CAPS has partnered with the Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council to do something a little different: start a Girl Scout troop, where the teachers are the troop leaders and the students become Girl Scouts.
The CAPS Girl Scout troop is the first of its kind in the San Bernardino area. It's an experimental program that's somewhat unusual when compared with traditional Girl Scout pathways, all the while remaining true to the spirit of Girl Scouting. At the moment, this particular troop is only open to girls in the CAPS program.
The bell rings to signal the end of the school day, but amid the immediate rush of students headed home a group of 20 or so girls stay behind. These are the eager members of the first Jefferson Hunt Elementary Girl Scout troop. They enjoy a nutritious snack and complete some homework with the help of teachers, before gathering at the front of the school to work their Girl Scout cookie booth.
The girls have joined late in the Girl Scout year, which runs from August to September, but this hasn't put a damper on their first day as, "real Girl Scouts," says Tatiana.
"I joined Girl Scouts because I love to sell cookies and learn new skills," says Mia, a vibrant girl bursting with cookie-selling passion. In fact, the same level of energy could be seen and heard in all the girls who recognize this unique opportunity.
Tatiana, one of the first girls to sign up for the program, is literally jumping about with joy. "Our cookie selling is going pretty good!" she shouts, "I'm glad I joined Girl Scouts because it's a great way to gain new experiences."
Like all the CAPS Girl Scouts, this is Mia and Tatiana's very first cookie sale and their first time running a business. The girls will take turns operating their cookie booth for the rest of the week, earning them their first badges and covering the yearly Girl Scout registration fee for each member.
Although their belated start won't give them a full six weeks to sell, like other troops, the girls still manage to earn first-rate profits in a little over one week of selling. What's the secret ingredient in their business plan? Heaping spoonfuls of pure enthusiasm.
Znia, another new Girl Scout, says, "I'm living the dream and now I can become who I want to be."
The girls, part of the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council, chanted "It's Cookie Time!" as they worked hard to earn their first badges.
Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio builds girls of courage, confidence and character who help make the world a better place. To find out how you can get involved with Girl Scouts, call 1-800-400-GIRL (4475) or visit us online at the www.girlscoutssangorgonio.org.
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