Sunday, April 17, 2011

Couldn't be prouder!

My Girl Scout Troop ROCKS!

Yesterday, we headed up to a local Girl Scout camp because it was Camporee weekend - something we've planned to go to for months and one of the highlights of the Girl Scout year. There were severe thunderstorms forecast, and although many of these were producing tornadoes, the girls still wanted to go and participate. There are safe places for campers to go in each unit and other places around camp, so we felt that we would just give it a 'go' and be brave. The morning was drizzly and breezy, but relatively calm. I was working at the Tie-dye bandanna and Pirate hat station, so I didn't get to stay with the girls the whole time, but my co-leader, Martha, was taking them around to the stations. I knew I would be well informed because I had set up the WRAL Weathercall system to call me if there was anything dangerous coming our way. We got through the first 3 sessions, then had lunch together at our unit house.

Many of the other troops who originally had planned to stay the night were talking nervously during lunch and decided to go home after the last session, or in time for them to be home before the storms if possible, whichever came first. Martha and I talked it over, and decided that we wouldn't want to be driving in the stormy, unpredictable weather - and since it would be over by dinnertime, we didn't want to abandon our camping plans. We also knew where the safe places were and had already gone over 'the plan' with the girls.

In the afternoon, we completed the 1st of two sessions, and at the end of that session, we were told by the event director to pack everything up and make final decisions about whether to stay at camp or try to go home because there was a tornado in the storm system that was moving our direction, and we only had about an hour until it was at our location. I packed up the tie-dye stuff and all of the newspaper and paint, and jogged back to the unit.

Martha and the girls were at the unit house already, and we still decided to stay. We told the girls that pretty soon we would be going into the storage room, and they could bring a blanket or a pillow, and we got out our bag of games. There were two other troops that joined us in the storage room. At first we all huddled together and just chatted, some of the girls were scared and cried a little. A few asked if they could call their parents. (no...) Martha asked if any girls would like to play a game to pass the time, and she introduced the girls to the card game called "Spoons." Some of the girls got into the game, others still huddled and were very dramatic.

It got windy, and started raining, and eventually I got the phone call from WRAL Weathercall that there was a tornado approaching our immediate area. Of course the leaders had to keep a lookout since it didn't really seem stormy at that immediate time... when it got windy and the hard rain started coming, we closed the door to the storage room, kept playing cards and chatting until the winds and rain died down. We stayed put in the storage room because due to the advances in modern technology, two of the other leaders had radar on their cell phones and we could see that the storm wasn't over yet. We got a second call from WRAL, and did it all over again... watch and wait... go in and close the door... it all passed. Once the second storm passed, we looked again at the radar and could see that there was a little more rain, but nothing 'serious' coming our way, so we let the girls walk around and stretch their legs. Pretty soon the sun came out and the girls were so happy to run out in the rain and sun combination! The other troops left once we got the "All clear" from the event director, and we made dinner and had a wonderfully fun evening at the Junior Bridging Bash! We even roasted marshmallows at a neighboring unit's campfire!

Today, on our way home, the girls were looking for storm damage, but didn't see any. I told them that there were many families that had a lot of damage, and some families even lost their homes. They really wanted to do something to help. I told them I wasn't sure what we could do, but maybe we'll find out later the best things we could do. When all the girls had gone home safely with their families, Mike drove our family over to the west about 3-4 miles to see the tornado damage. It was awful! There was one house which had the entire front that had caved in, and the chimney had fallen over into the house. There were many barns and sheds which were destroyed. Taylor Anne was very concerned about the animals, of course. We passed by a mobile home which had trees that had broken and fallen on it, splitting it open into pieces. One of the worst things we saw was a mobile home which had been blown over, it looked like it had flipped onto it's side and the walls split away from the roof. Taylor Anne could see furniture and mattresses as we drove by, and she remarked about how awful it would be to not have a home anymore. She was very touched by the devastation, and again asked what we could do - could we stop and help the people? Could we help them pick up the branches in the yard? I told her that I was sure their neighbors were helping them, and that I wasn't sure how else we could help.

Once we got home, the answer came in an email from our Girl Scout Service Unit. There was an emergency shelter set up nearby, and they needed things like towels and toiletries, baby things and clothing. I told Taylor Anne, and she thought it would be a great idea for our Girl Scout troop to help the people that way. We called another Girl Scout in our troop, Haley, who lived close by, We picked up Haley and her mom and we all went out shopping at WalMart. We delivered close to $400 worth of various toiletries, diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby food, formula, underwear, socks, and other various items we had from home like toys and clothes to the shelter near our house. The people there were very grateful. Taylor Anne and her friend were SO excited to set out the items we brought, show the kids the toys, and talk with some of the other volunteers. There was a little girl who was crying when we arrived, and Taylor Anne walked over and showed her a Barbie that Haley had brought to donate - the girl stopped crying, took it, and started playing with it - smiling at Taylor Anne and Haley. The volunteers that were there gushed over the girls and praised them for their thoughtfulness and generosity.

One of the local news stations was there when we were leaving, and they asked if they could interview our girls. OH MY - the things the girls said about helping the community, and feeling so sad when they saw the houses that were destroyed made my heart melt. It was ALL I COULD DO not to burst out crying during their interview! Such sweet girls, and such big hearts!

I am so proud.


Cherry Red Quilter said...

You should be proud - it is just wonderful to see young people putting other's needs first and seeing a need and helping to fill it!

Well done! to you and them

Tipper said...

They do rock-and you know what you do too : ) Congrats to all!