Eight fourth graders from Girl Scout Troop 582 bridged from Brownies to Juniors at a special ceremony attended by family, friends and Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste, who was the keynote speaker.
The bridging event took place in September at Stevenson Ranch Library. Each girl Scout crossed a makeshift bridge of brown and green balloons. Weste congratulated Troop 582 on their achievements and commended them for making an impact on the community in just five short months.
The mayor congratulated the Girl Scouts of Troop 582: Ella Fernandez, Kaya Hunter, Jacqueline Peters, Clara Pope, Kaylee Samuels, Pampoose Shia, Sarah Song and Yunha Song.
Girl Scout Troop 582 is led by Valencia residents Edna Dimataga-Fernandez and Gunther Shia. The troop started with a handful of Girl Scouts from Valencia Valley Elementary School. By May 2022, the troop had representation from three elementary schools in the Newhall School District, including Valencia Valley, Stevenson Ranch and Peachland Avenue elementary schools.
Many of the girls in the troop were looking forward to joining a Girl Scout troop back when they were in second grade, but since in-person gatherings were prohibited due to the pandemic and Girl Scout activities were limited to Zoom meetings, there was no incentive to start a troop back then.
Since the indoor mask mandate was lifted in mid-March of this year, the group decided it was the perfect time to start a brand new troop.
It all began when Edna Dimataga-Fernandez and Gunther Shia attended a Girl Scout orientation meeting in April. Both of their daughters were third graders at Valencia Valley Elementary School, and since many of the established troops were not accepting new Girl Scouts, they were encouraged to start a new troop.
Edna and Gunther had no idea that they would leave that orientation meeting as Troop Leaders, but they stepped up and decided to work together. Their daughters were eager to become Girl Scouts. A third parent, Joo hyung Ha, who also had fraternal twin daughters attending Valencia Valley Elementary, became the troop treasurer.
Considering all of the obstacles these last two years, Troop 582 was determined to achieve a lot as Brownie Girl Scouts before leveling up to Juniors in October.
Dimataga-Fernandez said: “Just because these girls were only Brownies for five months doesn’t mean they can’t accomplish a lot and do meaningful things in the community. In fact, during our first troop meeting, we hit the ground running by working on a special project for Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. Our Brownie troop created 19 handmade posters for the nurses. This was for their Nurses Day celebration on May 11.”
Renee León at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Foundation| ensured that the posters were hung at each of the hospital’s nursing units. It was heartwarming to see pictures of the nurses holding up posters created by the troop, the troop leaders said.
“Giving back and paying it forward is so important. Our troop felt a sense of accomplishment when they saw how their acts of kindness made the nurses so happy. And, of course, we are so grateful for our nurses. They were there for our community when COVID-19 hit,” said Edna Dimataga-Fernandez.
Within five months of forming, the troop leaders held bimonthly events for the Brownie Girl Scouts. In addition, workshops were organized so the girls could earn up to three Brownie badges before their September bridging ceremony.
The Space Adventure Badge was the first badge the troop earned. The timing was perfect since a total lunar eclipse was set to happen the evening of May 15. The troop met at Valencia Valley Park and participated in the lunar eclipse workshop. Each Girl Scout got to see the lunar eclipse through a huge telescope.
The First Aid Badge was the second Brownie badge they earned. Barbara Barnes, a registered nurse who is also a Valencia resident, taught the girls first aid basics, including what to do in an emergency — from calling 911 to treating burns. They also learned how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on others and on themselves.
The third badge was the Fair Play Brownie Badge. The troop met at Valencia Valley Park in mid-August and the girls learned all about teamwork. Since the troop consisted of Girl Scouts from three different schools, the girls learned to play as a team during several rounds of “tug of war.” They also participated in “the egg game” where they were paired up and carried a raw egg on a paper towel across the park.
The troop also engaged in some fun and educational activities including going on a tour of Old Town Newhall Library, where they were introduced to the Summer Reading Program. The girls obtained a library card, browsed through books and even had the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes. They were super excited to see how the book sorter machine works, thanks to the children’s services librarian.
A fun troop activity in July was the “Color Me Mine Scout Party” on Town Center Drive. The girls took a tour of the kiln room and learned about the firing and glazing process. Each Girl Scout was also able to paint a ceramic piece and create art out of modeling clay.
According to Edna Dimataga-Fernandez, their Girl Scout troop also learned about leadership and public speaking. She emphasized that it was important to have Weste attend their bridging event.
“Having a female mayor present at the ceremony teaches our girls that women can hold positions of power. Mayor Weste inspired each of our Girl Scouts to be leaders in the community and beyond,” said Edna Dimataga-Fernandez.
Now that the girls are at the next level of their Girl Scout journey, they are committed to helping more people including nonprofit organizations in Santa Clarita. The girls realize that serving in the community makes the world a better place.
In 2023, the troop looks forward to finally selling Girl Scout Cookies during cookie season, an important fundraiser for their troop. Since their troop didn’t form until April of this year, the troop wasn’t able to sell cookies in 2022.
In addition, the girls are eager to participate in the city of Santa Clarita’s 2023 Fourth of July Parade with Weste.
If you have a fourth grader interested in joining Girl Scout Troop 582, contact Troop Leader Edna Dimataga-Fernandez at 818-730-8366.