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Fall recruitment campaign underway

Their alumni numbers exceed 57 million and growing, while their members include such prominent names as Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and more than a half dozen other first ladies.

At present, there are more than 5,000 Girl Scouts in Southern Nevada and the organization is looking to increase that number with the launch of its fall recruitment campaign.

Locally, Pahrump's numbers stand at roughly 30 scouts.

Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada CEO Liz Ortenburger said now is the time for parents to consider allowing their girls to join the ranks.

This year's recruitment theme is: What did you do today?

"It's designed to have girls that are currently in the Girl Scouts express the amazing things that they are doing and let the parents and girls who are interested in scouting know the amazing things that we do as an organization," she said.

The mission of the Girl Scouts Ortenburger said is straightforward, which is building girls of courage, confidence and character and making the world a better place.

"The Girl Scouts are progressive, so we work with girls from kindergarten through seniors in high school," she said. "When you start out in kindergarten you're going to do lots of fun things, including making friends and learning about different kinds of things where the girls get to explore their world."

Ortenburger also said as the girls proceed through the program, they fine-tune what they are interested in.

Once they get to high school, the girls embark on various service-related projects.

"The Girl Scouts do lots of different things and we are fortunate to have a resident camp at the base of Mount Charleston and lots of troops cycle through there," she said.

Mary Smith has been a Pahrump Girl Scout for more than 10 years.

Her efforts over the years have earned Smith the organization's highest honor, the Gold Award.

"We earn badges or patches by doing activities, usually with the council," she said. "We earn badges from our books where we follow the steps and go about earning it. I love Girl Scouts. It's a lot of fun and there's so many new experiences every day. I want to become a teacher when I get older."

The Girl Scout troops are categorized by the number of scouts including super troops, traditional troops and what's known as Juliettes.

The size of the troops vary on the population of the community.

"Depending on the area, Pahrump is fortunate because we have what we call multi-age level troops and they will work with all of the ages of girls who are interested in joining," Ortenburger said. "Traditional troops are what Pahrump has as well as the Juliette program, which is for girls who want to participate individually. The super troops should be expanding out to this area in early 2016, we are hoping."

Additionally, Ortenburger said the scouts are broken up into six age groups.

"Daisies are kindergarten to first grade, Brownies are for girls in the second and third grades," she said. "What's known as Juniors are designed for fourth and fifth grade students, while the Cadets are sixth, seventh and eighth, depending on the dynamics of a community's middle and high school grade structure. We have Seniors that are freshman and sophomores and Ambassadors that are juniors and seniors in high school."

Outdoor activities are a major part of the scouting experience, as the troops get to decide what they want to do.

"Because we have some troops where they camp as a camper and we have some troops who go out, dig a ditch, and put up their tent," she said. "We do all kinds of things and the Girl Scout program is built on platforms such as the outdoors, advocacy and leadership, financial literacy and safety."

Ortenburger made sure to mention volunteers play a big role in the organization.

"All of our troop programs are driven by volunteers so any caring adult that is interested in helping to build the next generation of great women is encouraged to become a volunteer and be part of that troop," she said. "They help make not only Pahrump and Nye County strong, but Southern Nevada and the entire United States."

On the issue of fees, Ortenburger said the organization has a program to assist.

"We have scholarships available for every one of our membership options," she said. "The scholarship includes your membership fee for the year, your troop dues and uniform, but you have to keep up your grades."

Ironically, Ortenburger was not a Girl Scout herself while growing up.

"Professionally, I have been with the Girl Scouts for almost 20 years but I was not a Girl Scout," she said. "I was lucky enough to have amazing role models around me as a child. As a professional, I wanted to make sure that wasn't by accident for any girl and that got me into scouting."

Ortenburger also noted 60 percent of all women in Congress were Girl Scouts and 80 percent of all female entrepreneurs were at one-time Girl Scouts.

Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at sharris@pvtimes.com. On Twitter: @sharrispvt.com

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