Even though members are only in the third grade, St. John Bosco Brownie Troop 1878 has spent the last four years expanding its horizons by helping charity organizations like Feed My Starving Children, launching rockets with their families and learning about other countries.

On May 13, the troop conducted a "Bridging Ceremony," where members were formally inducted as Junior Girl Scouts. Friends and family watched as the girls walked across the bridge and started a new journey in this new phase of their scouting experience.

"I think that it feels really good (to become a junior Girl Scout) because you get to help more and do more (things)," said Grace Lincoln, who has been a member of her troop since kindergarten and plans on continuing her scouting experience until high school so that she can join other activities. Her favorite memory so far is, "World Thinking Day."

"(It's) when a lot of Girl Scouts come together," she said. "We learned a lot about England and how they serve really good tea, and learned about how royal people have celebrations."

Not only did Lincoln enjoy learning about other countries through this cultural experience, but she said she gained new friendships through an overnight camp in Prescott without feeling homesick.

"I had my mom there and many friends," Lincoln said. "I stuck everyone in my suitcase so it was good."

At this camp the troop got to swap pins, make crafts and friendship bracelets.

According to troop member Kristen Kopplin, the best thing about scouting is spending time with friends.

"I'll get crazy with friends and randomly crack up when there's nothing to crack up about," she said.

This year, Kopplin made it her goal to sell 1,000 Girl Scout cookies.

"I went to cookie booths at Fry's and Safeway, but it was raining," she said. "It was raining at the bank and we were crying because no one was coming to our booth because they went in and just got their money (to avoid the rain)."

Over the years, Kopplin has earned many badges, including one called "Perfect Attendance," since she attended every meeting and field trip during the past four years. One of her favorite memories about her Girl Scout experience is when the troop attended the Father-Daughter Dance, and when she went to "Tealicious with Daddy (and the troop) in kindergarten."

Not only do the girls enjoy spending time with friends, they enjoy serving the community.

"I actually liked Feed My Starving Children," troop member Annie Donahue said. "After packing the packages they would ship the food to places such as Haiti and then we would pray after they would pack them. We would chant: ‘Chicken, veggies, soy rice,' after packing them. It was fun and we will probably do it again."

Over the years, the girls have also enjoyed various camping and outdoor trips.

"I love camping outside in the woods because it's fun and you get to make new friends," troop member Amanda Allen said. "I mostly meet all the Girl Scouts (there)."

Fellow troop mate Victoria Burton shares the love for camping: "(I liked) when we got to go outdoor camping and slept in tents," she said. "Roasting marshmallows was fun. (I also liked when) we went hiking (because) I like hiking South Mountain a lot."

Burton is also excited about moving from Brownies to Junior Girl Scouts.

"I feel really excited to be with my friends and move to the next level," she said.

Before the actual ceremony, the girls acted out in skits that represented some of the events they participated in as Brownies. This included skits about "World Thinking Day" when they learned about other countries with troops from other schools. They also acted out their past experiences of camping and watching plays at ASU Gammage Theatre.

"I enjoyed watching the ‘Rockettes' because I had a lot of fun looking at the dancers," troop member Victoria Jimenez said.

During last week's ceremony troop members were recognized for taking part in the Ahwatukee Easter Parade, volunteering at Maggie's Place, raising $500 for Feed My Starving Children and more, serving a total of 370 hours over the past three years.

Troop member Jocelyn Rupp was one of the 13 recipients of the Inchworm Service Award.

"(It feels) good (to get the award) because I had helped people and I earned it," Rupp said. "I had helped a (fellow) Boy Scout, Andrew Lincoln, through his service project at Maggie's Place and redid their brick wall and placed plants in two houses."

Rupp also helped the school's Daisy Troop and volunteered at Feed My Starving Children. She joined the Girl Scouts because her father is a Boy Scout troop leader and her brother, Garrett, is a Boy Scout.

"I (want to be a Girl Scout) forever," she said.

Co-troop leader Nancy Kopplin has been part of the troop since they were Daisies.

"I really like the Girl Scouts organization," she said. "I like what they teach. (Christy) Lincoln and I took on the leadership position so that (our daughters) could have a good experience. My favorite memory was the Rocket Derby, which is when we had a picnic and launched rockets with our families. We had three launch pads and my husband, who is an aerospace engineer, brought the biggest rocket," she said.

However, Kopplin has more plans for the troop for the years to come.

"I'd love to teach them about flag ceremonies and more service work," she said, adding that she's also proud of the fact that she has had the opportunity to lead the troop over the years.

"I am very proud of them," Kopplin said. "They've accomplished so much and they don't even know it yet. It's always rewarding to see these young girls turn into young ladies."

• Ahwatukee Foothills resident Anna Carlos is a senior at Xavier College Preparatory and plans to attend the University of California, Berkeley next year. She is interning this semester at the Ahwatukee Foothills News.

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