By Anna Molinaro
When people hear mention of the Girl Scouts, their first thought is often of cookies. What many may not realize is the extensive programming that also comes as part and parcel of being a troop member.
Ask Girl Scouts about anything from their countless community service events to their camping excursions and you’ll soon realize they do much more than sell those tasty cookies. Last month brought proof of this when 10 members of the Wisconsin Hills Middle School Girl Scout Troop took part in a Kids Build event at the Southeast Wisconsin Carpentry Training Center in Pewaukee. The event was organized by four members of the Sisters in the Brotherhood, a group of female carpenters whose goal is not far from that of the Girl Scouts.
Take it from Christine Birt, a cadette leader, day camp volunteer and lifetime Girl Scout: “Our founder, Juliette Gordon ‘Daisy’ Low, was an extremely creative person and even took out patents on her ideas. In 1912, that was a pretty self-assured thing for her to pursue. Girl Scout leaders are always looking for opportunities to give girls experiences to bolster their confidence to pursue the unfamiliar.
“Ultimately we hope these situations parley themselves into action through the Gold Award. This is a Girls Scout’s highest achievement and chance for a scout to transform her ideas and visions for change into an actionable plan with measurable, sustainable, and far-reaching impacts at the local, national, and/or global level. We have a passion to nurture the leaders of the future and show our girls that can make the world a better place.”
At the end of the Kids Build event, the Girl Scouts in attendance walked away with a woodworking badge and a toolbox made under the guidance of the Sisters in the Brotherhood. However, the day was about much more than building something.
It was also an opportunity, according to Kenya Deering-Moore, journeyman carpenter and member of the Sisters in the Brotherhood, for the “young ladies (to) gain versatility, allowing themselves to problem-solve in more ways than one, and most importantly, know they should not be afraid to step outside the box from what has always been considered a male-dominated skill!”
Clair Sprenger was also among the Sisters in the Brotherhood who were helping with the day’s event. A female millwright apprentice, she has a story that’s not unusual for women in the trades.
“Growing up, I always veered towards hands-on activities like art and woodshop,” she said. “But the school district I went to, which did actually have shop classes, didn’t push their students – especially us ladies – to learn about mechanics and consider blue-collar careers. It wasn’t until I was a year and half out of college, unsatisfied with my work and my paychecks, that I even realized construction was an option.
“My grandad, the first of now five millwrights in our family, was the one who showed me this was an option. It makes me so happy to be part of an organization that is working towards exposing young women to these kinds of occupations and skill sets.”
According to James Anderson, business representative at the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, The United Brotherhood of Carpenters spends over $200 million a year in training. The council invests roughly $100,000 a year in Kids Build events in six states.
– Anna Molinaro is communications director at Building Advantage