Girl Scouts live by a code where they promise to help people at all times. With a local park in disrepair, Montesano Girl Scout Troop 41645 helped an entire community by cleaning up and making improvements to the park.
The Girl Scouts, Paige Carroll, Maddisen Conner, Alexesia Fry, and Patience Teter, decided to clean up Kelsey Park in Montesano as part of an effort to earn a Bronze Award, the highest award a Girl Scout Junior can achieve. The girls also chose the project because they, themselves, wanted to enjoy the park.
The scouts approached the city with the idea of using city funds to improve the park, but because of the city’s financial situation, they then had to use their own cookie money and donations received from businesses in Montesano, said Patricia Conner, one of the co-leaders of the troop.
“The girls hit some road blocks but they were able to get their project done,” Conner said.
Maddisen Conner, 11, said in addition to soliciting donations, she and her fellow scouts cleaned up the park and used the funds collected for improvements such as new bark in the play areas.
The girls picked up garbage bags full of trash and pulled weeds. They cleaned the playground equipment with a special non-toxic solution of vinegar and water, too, said Alexesia Fry, 11.
The scouts planted flowers, which Paige Carroll, 11, said were specially selected to attract butterflies.
Each girl put in 20 hours of volunteer time, some of it as hard labor, said Patience Teter, 11.
“It was really tough raking the bark and shoveling it,” Teter said. The girls worked in conjunction with Montesano Parks director Rocky Howard. According to Maddisen Conner, Howard was really cool to work with and helped to make the park better.
Further improvements are in the works, the girls said, including anchoring a retaining wall, adding more trash cans and possibly an accessible swing. When the girls go to the park to play, they find themselves picking up more trash. They also often replace bark which has been scattered on the equipment.
“It’s depressing when you have people continuing to disrespect the park,” Carroll said. She and the other scouts said they were saddened their work has not been respected by some people. But, they have hopes that things will always get better.
The scouts recently were honored at a Montesano City Council meeting where Mayor Vini Samuel recognized the girls’ efforts.