Five Girl Scout Juniors from Troop 20173 had the experience of a lifetime as they joined 7,000 of their Girl Scouting sisters on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge for the Girl Scouts of Northern California’s Golden Gate Bridging Event.
The girls, Westfield fifth graders Brooke Luce, Lilly Teeter, Desiree Bowen and Grace Graham and Cassadaga’s Lily Hafner, joined leaders Patricia Bowen and Wendy Graham on a whirlwind trip across the country. The four-day adventure was a time of firsts: for many, it was the first time they had flown; for some, it was their first time away from family; and for all it was their first time amid so many of their Girl Scout peers.
“In Girl Scouting, when a girl moves up to a new level they call it bridging,” Patty Bowen said. “We’ve had bridging ceremonies over small local bridges before. When we found out girls on the west coast bridged over one of the Engineering Wonders of the World, we were in.”
The ceremony was only for 5th graders bridging from Juniors to Cadettes, which means all of Troop 20173 was eligible.
“Then we just had to find funds,” Wendy Graham said.
The catch: the event was just over 4 weeks away when the leaders found out about it.
“Our small community just came together to make sure we could afford it. It gives me goosebumps to think of everyone who helped to make this happen. We received donations from our local American Legion, Legion Auxiliary, VFW, VFW Auxiliary, Women of the Moose, and Westfield Fisheries along with many personal donations people made when they heard about what we wanted to do and the opportunity we wanted to give these girls. We even had most of the money for our seven flights paid for by one individual donor. It was that one anonymous donation that got the ball rolling!” Bowen said.
In the end, the girls were able to see redwoods in Muir Woods, tour San Francisco by bus, visit Sausalito, take a ferry ride past Alcatraz, ride a cable car, and see the sea lions on Pier 39.
“And that’s all besides the main event!” Graham said. “Bridging day included walking across the Golden Gate Bridge, various Girl Scout stations set up in Chrissy Field, and our girls got to meet the CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern California and earned her special CEO patch. The ceremonies closed with the largest friendship circle in the world, which was truly awesome to see and experience.”
A real bonus was that the girls got to meet the pilot on their return trip- herself a woman in a largely male-dominated industry!
Despite a few bouts of homesickness, all of the girls say they are eager to travel again. They are already looking toward their next scouting adventure, which was truly awesome to see.”