The 4th Grade Girl Scouts with their haul of food for Friends for Life. From left to right: Elin, Kendal, Kaylynn, Bella, Penelope, and Nora. Photos submitted by Stefanie Emmings.

When you hear about the Girl Scouts, most people immediately think of cookies. While popular, Girl Scouts participate in a lot more activities than simply selling cookies. For example, on December 13, the Watertown-Mayer 4th grade Girl Scouts held a Christmas Dance Party at the Watertown Community center to raise funds and food for the local Friends for Life Foodshelf.

“It’s up to the 4th grade troupe to decide a community event, so the girls do all the planning,” said Stefanie Emmings, leader for Watertown-Mayer’s 4th grade Girl Scouts. “They chose the Christmas Dance Party.”

The Girl Scouts troupe meets once per month to discuss what the plans are for the next event. This particular party has been in the works since October when the girls first picked it. They had several options to go with for a December Girl Scouts event, such as a Teddy Bear Drive for the fire department which they did last year.

Once decided, the girls have to start working out what they want to do for the party. They are given a budget, and the adults leading the troupe help them out to keep them from aiming too high.

“Sometimes kids think they can do something really amazing, like rent a bouncy castle,” said Emmings. “We help them learn that, even though that would be fun, sometimes that’s not in the budget.”

The girls decided everything from snacks to games to even admissions for the Christmas Dance Party. How did the community get in? With a donation prepared for the food shelf. Anyone wanting to attend had to bring a non-perishable food item to enter and enjoy the activities available.

In the end, the Scouts raised 50 items of food and $87 for the foodshelf. In fact, once the food was weighed, according to Emmings, it turned out to be equal at 87 pounds, which apparently doesn’t happen often.

The Scouts were pretty proud of their work as well.

“They’re already asking if we can do another one,” said Emmings. “We told them probably not until the new year.”

The next event won’t be until 2020, which will be organized by the 3rd grade troupe. It hasn’t been decided exactly what it’s going to be, but there’s always the central theme of helping out the community any way they can. They can help out the food shelf, animal shelters, fire departments, schools, pretty much anything you can think of that needs help, honestly.

Of course the next big event for the Scouts will be the selling of their cookies, where some of the proceeds go to those who are serving or who have served in the military. The Scouts will be going door to door as well as hanging out in Marketplace Foods to sell their ever-popular cookies.

Speaking of those cookies, they do more than help the military and curb diets. Part of the proceeds go to the Girls Scouts as a whole, which helps them bring in more Scouts. One of the biggest barriers for many communities with a troupe is the financial investment needed for the Scouts. There are camps, events, trips, all kinds of things parents often have to pay for. However, the cookies sales are a solution to this particular problem, according to Emmings.

“If you don’t have the means to pay for Girl Scout events, those funds go to that,” she said. “You can apply and they can give you the funds for it, so your girl can still do all of the events and not be excluded.”

The Three River Valley Council, which heads the local troupes, holds onto funds in order for every girl to get the chance to be a part of the Scouts. This means that everyone has the chance to have these leadership opportunities as well as enjoy some of the events without having to think about the financial burden on the household.

And for Emmings, at least, this is a pretty important aspect of the whole thing.

“They learn about doing good things, and they start to do them in their real life,” she said. “If they see someone getting bullied, they go up and tell the bully, ‘That’s not nice’.”

Until cookie selling starts, though, the Girl Scouts will be taking a bit of a break with everyone else. With the Christmas Dance Party a success, even the girls can agree that a little bit of rest and relaxation is in order.

“The girls were so thankful and appreciative for everyone who stopped by,” Emmings said. “We had so many people just come in and donate, not even come and dance, and they’re so thankful for everyone.”

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