Ryan Chartrand

Two Cal Poly students are taking the time to prove that leading a Girl Scout troop is not just for stay-at-home moms.

For the past two years, business senior Paula Dahlgren and liberal studies junior Sarah Garnick have been leading a group of 10 girls ages 7 to 9.

“We’re closer in age, so the girls can relate to us,” Dahlgren said. “It’s way cooler if it’s not your mom leading.”

“In Girl Scouts you have role models to look up to besides your parents or your friends’ parents,” Garnick said. “When I walk in, the girls run up and hug me and you can tell they’re excited to see you.”

Both Garnick and Dahlgren were Girl Scouts when they were younger.

Dahlgren began leading the troop three years ago when she saw Girl Scouts downtown and thought they were selling cookies. She stopped and found out they were actually trying to recruit new members.

“It was the right place at the right time, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it,” she said. “They thought I’d be a good leader and just asked if I wanted to lead a troop.”

Dahlgren led a troop with her roommate at the time for the first year. When her roommate graduated, Dahlgren asked Garnick, who is in the same sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, if she would co-lead.

“I’m going into elementary education and I thought it would be fun to interact with school age kids around here,” Garnick said.

One of their favorite parts about leading is being with their troop and seeing how they act.

“I like the random things the girls say; you forget how fun childhood was,” Garnick said. “For an hour a week I can be a kid with them.”

Dahlgren agreed, saying, “I love the girls. They’re adorable and they never cease to amaze me with their curiosity and love for knowledge.”

Kelly Doherty, a third-grader in their troop, said that she likes Girl Scouts because of what she learns there.

“It’s fun because you get to do things that you don’t get to do when you’re in school, and you get to do things for people,” she said.

Although the troop meets for an hour every week, Dahlgren and Garnick have to put in more planning time, especially during winter quarter for cookie season.

“I think it’s a great thing, but you do have to love kids and have a lot of patience,” Dahlgren said.

Sydney Leonard, a third-grader in their troop agreed that Girl Scout leaders must be patient.

“They’re really nice and really patient even when the girls are being loud,” Leonard said.

Marisa Milliken, a third-grader in the troop, echoed her sentiments.

“I like how Paula and Sarah are really nice and they’re not so bossy. They have great activities they come up with,” she said.

The troop is in their last year as Brownies and will become Juniors in June.

During a typical meeting, they begin by saying the Girl Scout Promise, a pledge to help others. They do different activities every week or work on badges. They sometimes read stories and have a snack that one of the parents provides. They always end meetings by circling up and singing a song.

Some of the activities they have done include making T-shirts, going to Hearst Castle, making their own bread at House of Bread, watching baseball games and going out to dinner.

One of the benefits of being a Girl Scout is that they can meet people who go to different schools and they have opportunities to do things they might not otherwise, Garnick said.

“I know the parents are really appreciative,” she said. “One of the moms e-mailed us saying, ‘My daughter was really shy before this, and I think Girl Scouts has helped her come out of her shell.’”

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